I attend a mom’s group at my church every Tuesday morning. For those of you who visit here often this probably comes as no surprise to you. I’ve gone to this group for two years now so by time alone you’d think I feel right at home-like I fit in. But I don’t.
The last few weeks, since the wrap up of our most recent study, the lovely ladies of my group have been sharing testimonies. I love their honesty and willingness to be open. I love their faith to just jump, knowing that there is grace. I appreciate the vulnerability and joy in the sharing of struggles. I’ve learned so much from each of them, perhaps the thing that lingers the longest is that many of these women, each of which light up with Jesus, have things in their pasts that are less than bright and shiny. The constant is that no one had things perfect. Some came from dangerous families. Some backgrounds are flooded with alcohol and drug abuse. Some have marriages that struggle and babies who are no longer here. But each one has a story that is all her own.
I didn’t share. I’ve contemplated my own testimony over the last few weeks and even told my husband that I didn’t feel like I have one to give. That things in my life are too messy still to see the bright outline of grace and peace comes in doses that are few and far between-more like cracks in the thunderstorm clouds of this life. My story isn’t broken how most see it. I don’t have years of abuse-personal or at the hands of someone else. I never became addicted to substances. I never had an abortion. I didn’t attempt suicide. From the outside looking in, my story seems pretty bland and typical. A cookie-cutter Christian just living this life she was given. For those that know better, under the surface is a tangled web of emotions, heartache and loss.
I have the good Christian girl salvation story. I accepted Jesus into my heart when I was four, sitting on the orange and green carpet in my bedroom, next to the rough yellow dresser covered in stickers and stamps. I remember the sun shining in through the window and thought that my life would be different. The years flew by and in high school I fell in love with a boy. We did everything right. I lived in the legalistic world of “doing” because that’s what you did, not because I loved Jesus and wanted to make him happy. But looking back-that’s how I thought you acted when you were a Christian. You did the right thing because that was the right thing to do. You went to church. You went to camp. You went to alter calls. Lather-rinse-repeat.
Soon after the boy and I got married we thought I was pregnant. This is where my heartache and my own personal addiction began. The test came back negative, but I had already had this tickling of hope that it was positive. The next twelve years would be marked by pregnancy test, ovulation kids, and monthly disappointments. Bitterness became my bedfellow. Instead of pressing into Jesus, I got mad. I screamed and yelled and begged for mercy. I would read of Hannah and Sarah and how God remembered them, and the enemy would whisper in my ear that I had been forgotten.
I became a part of a club that I didn’t want membership to-The Infertility Club. Women couldn’t relate to me. Every pregnancy announcement or baby shower was a slap in the face. I was happy for them, but my heart broke even more. I sought promises from God, and felt let down in each. I remember laying in bed one night, sobbing over another round of ovulation kits and Clomid-and I heard his voice. Audible like he was there next to me, the Father spoke into my soul. Be still. But I couldn’t I held on to my pain. He whispered again and when I railed back I heard his sigh and then the plead, Trust Me.
I tried. I tried to lean in and listen to his call. We started looking deeper into adoption, specifically from foster care. We were let down time and time again. Those who meant well stung with words and deeds and disguised as a balm but instead burned like poison ivy. When we did become parents, change was big and fast and seemed reckless. I was now a mother, but was still an outside. Separated from the mom groups by legal documents and non-newborns. I was still unrelatable. Added to this was the type of parents we were. We couldn’t relate to normal parenting strife. We’ve lost friends to the behavior of our children. We’ve been screamed at, kicked, hit, scratched and more by the children in our home. Our kids have wounds and scars and history beyond our making. Sometimes it feels beyond our parenting ability. But their’s are not my story to tell. I will say this-it is hard. So very, very hard. Unimaginably hard and right now is one of those hard spaces where you feel like you’re on an island and drowning-the tidal waves rising higher and higher each moment and each breath is more strangled and shallower than the last. The joy of motherhood is lost on me. I pray for the Father’s love to filter through me, for there are days when I feel so empty that I cannot pour out.
I know that the enemy comes like a thief-to steal, kill and destroy. I know that it is my job to battle this. To pull from the depths of my roots like an old oak tree and find the joy, or at least steel myself for the storm. There is no grace here. No moment of bright light and heartbreaking beauty where I see my Jesus. I’m learning to lean in though. I feel like the first 25 years of my faith I was a new christian, still in those baby steps. Now I’m finding out how to press in. I’m no longer a baby believer. I still feel forgotten sometimes. There are still days when I feel like my pain was overlooked and underrated, the promises broken. I think that’s part of being human. I know that these are lies whispered on my heart and I think of C. S. Lewis and the Skrewtape letters. My joy is hard won and often short lived, but I press into Lamentations 3:22.
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed. For His mercies are new each morning. Great is Thy faithfulness.
That is my testimony-I am not consumed. Mercies are fresh each day. He is faithful. It is my promise to my children, as Jesus renews me and forgets my transgressions from yesterday, so I will (try to) do with them. I’m not perfect. I’m far, far from it. But I’m learning and growing and pressing in. It seems like a testimony is supposed to be the end of the story, but mine isn’t finished yet. There are pages yet to be written.
Linking up today with Jennifer Dukes Lee over at #TellHisStory.