I had never heard the concept of “sharing your story” until I joined MOPS. Growing up in the church, I had definitely heard many people share their “testimony,” but that word always seemed far more substantial and important than anything I’d have to offer. I mean after all, how impactful is it to hear of a girl raised by incredible, loving parents in a pretty much idyllic home who accepted Jesus into her heart in First Grade? While I was happy to share my story (no one has ever described me as quiet, and I’ve never met a microphone I didn’t like), I did not think it would mean much to anyone listening.
As I began thinking through what I would share with my MOPS group, I decided maybe my life had been a little more trial-some at times than I initially had thought. I’ve never been a fan of History – I like to go and do and plan, I’d need 25 hours in a day if I was going to devote one of them to looking behind me. So maybe my story just seemed smooth to me, because my current life was. When taking the time to reflect, I remembered the valleys, and I began to notice a pattern in my life when times were rough. Waiting.
I have always been extremely close to both of my parents. Sure, there was a time at 13 when I stormed up the stairs ranting, raving, and vowing to never become my mother, but that was the exception not the rule, and now I pray I can be exactly like her! In 2012, my mom was diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer, which is a scary and aggressive form of breast cancer that has not been as thoroughly researched as many of the other more common types. We were faced with waiting. Waiting to see if her chemo would work. Waiting to see if her cancer would spread. Waiting for her body to heal from a double mastectomy. It was a year of waiting (well, I was waiting; my mom would probably describe it all with a more negative verb than that), but God healed my mama, and she has been cancer-free since her 60th birthday in 2013.
Life was good again. I could return to my normally-programmed I-plan-every-detail-of-my-future life. As a bleeding-heart Kindergarten teacher, the only thing that was more important than my work was the hope of starting my own family. I could get pregnant at the precise time to have my beginning-of-summer baby. If my mom got pregnant easily, surely I would, too, right!? While I’m not sure if God actually laughs at our plans, He was probably at least giving me a smirky side-eye. Again, I found myself waiting. Waiting for a baby I so desperately wanted. Waiting for testing to tell me why I couldn’t get pregnant. Waiting for the start of fertility treatments. Waiting to see those beautiful two pink lines. God did bring me my baby. Beckett was born in April of 2016. Surely now I could get back to my planning.
Beckett was a perfect and precious gift from God, but he did have a birth defect called hypospadias. “No big deal.” “Just a simple surgery.” “Super common and easy to fix.” If only they were paying our medical bills! Two botched surgeries led to two more surgeries, 100 hours of hyperbaric oxygen treatments, and some very scary waiting periods. Waiting to see if his graft would fail or thrive. Waiting to see if he needed yet another surgery. Waiting and praying for healing. His final surgery was in June of 2018, and so far, all is perfect. I’m done with waiting now, God.
February 2018 brought us another precious son, Callum. (No waiting involved this time; he was our we-went-out-and-drank-a-pitcher-of-margaritas baby.) I was really enjoying a life without pause. Let me schedule every minute and to-do in my pretty little Erin Condren planner and check it all off like a boss. Just how I like it. But that’s unfortunately not how life goes for most of us.
My dad was diagnosed in September with Stage IV Renal Cell Carcinoma (kidney cancer). It turns out that cells from his Stage I form of this cancer (he was originally diagnosed in 2007, and his diseased kidney was removed) had been hanging around for over 10 years until they decided to attack his body again in new places. Luckily there are new treatments that are promising, but we are definitely back in the dreaded waiting zone with his health. Waiting to see if and how well the treatments will work. Waiting for side effects to rear their ugly heads and then hopefully be managed. Waiting to know what his (and our) future will hold.
During this period of struggle for our family, we were blessed with happy news on February 1st, Callum’s first birthday: I was pregnant! (No margaritas involved this time; okay, well maybe, but not a surprise and no fertility treatments needed.) A new baby and grandchild brought joy to us all despite my father’s suffering. Unfortunately that feeling would only last a few weeks as I lost the baby due to a miscarriage that began on my husband’s birthday. I was absolutely devastated. And now here I am waiting once again. Waiting to be pregnant. Waiting to feel healed. Waiting on the healthy baby I still long to have.
I think it’s abundantly clear by now, but my personality type (type A with a side of messy bun and box of wine) doesn’t enjoy waiting. I want my life to be organized and planned and just as I envision it. I’m not a perfectionist (just take a peek inside my house), but I do pride myself on being a doer, a making-things-happen-er, a strong woman who can control my life with my persistence and hard work. But I think this is what God is trying to tell me: I’m not made strong by my doing; I can be made strong in my waiting.
Mary and Martha waited on Jesus to heal Lazurus. Joseph waited to be freed and made a leader. Hannah waited for a child. Moses and his people waited for the promised land. Time and time again, we read examples in the Bible of the perfecting of faith through waiting. Although God isn’t writing a message to me in the sky (though that would be nice, wouldn’t it!?), I can’t ignore His clear message to me right now in my life. Waiting sucks, but it can be incredibly fruitful in the most important ways.
I don’t want to waste my waiting this time. I’m working on finding peace in the pause. I’m trying to use my pain to minister to others. When I went through primary infertility, I decided to share about it, and the response was incredible. So many people – from dear friends to casual acquaintances – reached out to share and support. Around that time, I heard (from some speaker or author far wiser than me), that once we have gone through a struggle, we are now uniquely equipped to help someone else going through that same thing. Just 2 weeks after my recent pregnancy loss, a friend called me as she was experiencing the start of her own miscarriage. I was able to cry with her, pray with her, and encourage her as I had started to come out of my own fog of despair. As I spoke to her, I mentioned that she was now uniquely qualified to touch someone going through the same thing… “oh! Like I’m doing right now!” It was such a sweet moment the Lord blessed me with during a dark time. Being light for someone else didn’t mean my miscarriage “happened for a reason,” but it did mean that my pain could bring glory to the Lord and healing for both myself and my friend.
My newfound determination is to draw closer to the Lord during my current period of waiting. To slow down, to let go of the plans I have conceived so that I can discover the even better plans the Lord has in store. I won’t stop hoping and praying for my Dad to be healed; I won’t stop hoping and praying for God to bring me another baby. But I will embrace this waiting and find faith I’ve longed for but never had. So if you see me standing in line at the grocery store, and I’m looking impatient, feel free to remind me, “Warriors Wait.” I’ll take a hug, too.
To connect with Nora, email her here.