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12.14.2007

A Tale of Three Christmas Parties

Last week, we attended the annual church Christmas party for leaders of ministry teams and care groups. This party has become somewhat of a personal measuring stick for me over the past three years. Up until we started trying to conceive, this gathering was one of my favorite events of the year. We would get together with some of our closest friends to share laughter and memories, and each person would share how they were most encouraged by God's work in the past year. It was a joyous time. I expected things to be much the same in December 2005.

But then one pregnant woman after another arrived at the party. I think about half the group was expecting, and all I wanted to do was run and hide. It was a miserable evening. I took a huge nose-dive into self-pity and stayed there. [As we shared our highlights for the year,] every other couple mentioned the gift of the baby on the way. When it was my turn to share, I said something about our care group, but internally I was thinking, “I have nothing to be encouraged about! God is not blessing me! He has forgotten about me!”

On the way home from the party, Aaron asked how I was doing and I told him truthfully. I was completely overwhelmed. I knew I was sinning in a thousand ways – pride, unbelief, jealousy, self-pity, impatience, lack of contentment, etc. – but I felt absolutely stuck. I felt like the pain of not being able to conceive was leaving me no other options. There was too much pressure, too many temptations, and I didn’t know where to begin to fight against it all. I was ready to throw my hands up in despair (entry from 6.23.2006).
That night became a turning point for me. You see, we had been trying to get pregnant for about a year at that point, and the suffering of a good desire denied had begun to get very intense. As a result of the anguish I felt at that party, I began to fight back against the sin that infertility was beginning to expose in my heart. The fight has lasted much longer than I expected. A year after that night, we returned to another church Christmas party, now with a couple failed IUIs under our belt. The party was populated with babies instead of pregnant women (although I'm sure there were a few of those, too, knowing our church). It was still a challenging evening but by God's grace not nearly as difficult as the year before.

Now here we are in December 2007, at the end of our third unsuccessful year of trying to conceive. With two failed IVFs and with questions about whether we'll be able to attempt IVF again, we are in some ways farther away than ever from the chance of having a child. And yet, I am content. As we sat at this year's Christmas party, I was able to honestly share how encouraged I am at how God has filled me with such gratitude for the gospel that I feel joy and peace even in the face of my still-unfulfilled longing. Yes, being in the company of another cluster of pregnant women - some of the same who had been expecting at the 2005 party - gave me twinges of resignation, but what a change God has wrought in my heart! These Christmas parties mark off the years of my physical barrenness, but they also give me a chance to measure the harvest of spiritual fruit.

9 comments:

Lauren said...

I know group functions can be really hard when you feel like you're the only one not pregnant/without a baby. That's great though that you felt so content this year, even though you're still waiting on that particular blessing. God is doing good things.

In Search of Morning Sickness said...

I am humbly challenged at your own look at your heart. While I don't have the same peace/joy right now, I am asking & seeking for it.

Heather said...

I'm at the end of year one and beginning to shake my fists and fight of the sin that creeps up in my heart, so your post today really meant a lot to me. THank you for softening your heart to God.

Katie said...

Andrea, the fruit is so evident! It is a joy to get to be a part of your life and watch God conforming you more into the likeness of His Son. I'm so glad that the Lord has brought us together as friends, joined by our unchanging bond in the Gospel.

bekah said...

I just found your blog as I was doing some random searching this evening, and I was so encouraged reading this post! My husband and I attend a Sovereign Grace Church in Richmond, VA, and we also have been trying to conceive for three years. My heart approach to infertility two years ago compared to today seems to mirror yours. I am so thankful that God has used this struggle to teach me of his love for me, his sovereignty, and his ability to use this as a blessing for me! It amazes me to see how he has changed my heart and brought me to a place of praising him for this season. It is always encouraging to me to hear/read of other women going through the same struggle and praising God through it. Thank you for humbly sharing your journey!

andrea_jennine said...

Bekah, thanks for your encouraging comment. Do you know Jeff and Kim Marinelli? They used to attend our church, but I believe they're in Richmond now...

Jen said...

What a beautiful post, Andrea! Thanks so much for sharing! The fruit is evident indeed!

Jen

Elaine said...

Oh my, how many times I have asked God to grant me the same contentment. I have made my life verse Philippians 4:11. You have restored my faith that God will fill my heart with contentment, I just have to keep asking, seeking, and praying. Thank you for sharing what must of been a difficult post. It's never easy admitting out short comings.

Mama Whitney said...

though i have NO idea what your pain and heartache must be like i truly believe you are right where God has you, friend! you are ministering to many, me included! thanks for always being so transparent for His glory!