Oh, Barren! Obedient?

medium_2718556208 “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Luke 11:9

I’m currently involved in a writer’s group taking lessons on writing queries. A query is an asking or requesting; specifically for the writer, a query is what you must do to get an editor or publisher to consider looking at your work. No guarantees implied, a query might be akin to getting your toe in the door.

If God were an editor, I’d be in the slush pile of rejected manuscripts and lengthy boring queries.

But, I’m not. I continually remind myself I’ve been accepted for the next assignment. The problem is, I may not know what is required of me, or worse yet, I don’t like the work He’s given me to do.

I was reminded of this when I recently received an email from a group member about a query I’d written. My proposed topic was encouragement for the woman with a newly confirmed diagnosis of infertility.

It’s been almost 40 years for me since I was told I could not conceive. I’ve watched with great interest the technological developments, research, new pharmaceuticals and therapies, and extremely high tech interventions like “Snow Babies” and surrogate moms. Just because I am long past the ability to benefit from these wonderful techniques doesn’t mean I am not still rooting for more to be done to help our modern day Hannahs.

Unfortunately, the sting of being barren still persists. Perhaps, our modern world is less condemning of the couple without children but the personal anguish within the hearts of defeated lovers is just as intense and unrelenting as ever. Proverbs 30:16 lumps the barren womb in with the grave, drought, and fire. Ouch.

As modern women, we are encouraged to see our strengths and abilities. We are to expand our capabilities, increase our self reliance, determine our destinies, and flex the muscles of talent and skill to their utmost. Young women today have so many more opportunities to fulfill themselves than ever before. The conflict that occurs when all of our dreams, efforts and hopes are  extinguished when “can’t’ is encountered, leaves the high achieving gal flat on her back.

I accomplished nearly everything my heart desired as a young woman. I was intelligent(and hope I still am), healthy, creative, spontaneous, capable, and confident; I intended to continue down the path of productivity in every aspect of life because I could. Until, I faced being barren. It was the one thing I could not do.  Money, prayer, surgery, modern drugs, begging, crying, anger, frustration, or magic incantations did not produce a child. I was stunned. I could not.

For the first time in my life, even though I knew Jesus as Savior, I did not know Him as Sovereign Lord. I gave lip service to Him being in control of the universe, but when He pushed me up against an immoveable wall of barrenness, I had to cry ‘uncle’.

The response to my query was that the barren ‘could’ adopt because there are so many needy children worldwide. These children are a unique problem, requiring much love and support from God’s church, but they are not necessarily the solution to the barren womb. Many loving couples with children of their own open their homes to someone else’s child. However, for many woman the lack of a child, which could be solved by acquiring someone else’s, is only half of the problem.

The problem for Hannah, Sarai, Michal, Anna, and me is not what could be done but what can’t be done. As meaningful as the aforementioned women’s examples from the Bible are to me, the most influential childless person in the Bible is not a woman at all. It’s a man; Jesus Himself.

During my last pity party, over thirty five years ago, I lamented how terrible it was of Him to not allow me the joy of having my own children. I even had the audacity to throw up to Him that He, a man, couldn’t possibly know the torment of a barren womb since He didn’t have one. Making one, in my opinion at the time, did not give Him an edge to understanding one.

Quietly, with great love, He tapped me on my shoulder. “Daughter, I hate to point this out to you. I didn’t have any children either. I was fully man when I was on Earth, and I would have liked them as well. But, I had to do the will of my Father. And, so do you.”

Wow. An epiphany. From that moment onward I saw barrenness as the space for His will for my life. My ‘can’t’ turned to His will.

Instead of adopting, I spent thirteen years as a Sunday school teacher of youth at my church. I slept over, ate pizza till the cows came home, boogied at all night lock-ins, and watched several generations of young church members blossom into fine Christian parents, bringing their own children to church. A real highlight of my ministry life was when I received communion from a newly ordained deacon, gray at his temples, who had been one of my guys in the high school department. I had to do the will of my Father…

As a far adoption, it is not an easy or affordable task for many. Healthy infants in the United States are in great demand with low supply, and some couples realistically are not equipped to meet the needs of disabled children. Some men are open to procreating their own offspring but resistant or negative to rearing someone else’s. A woman without the funds or support to adopt is left with her barrenness nonetheless. She lives with the two regrets.

A favorite American holiday, Mother’s Day, was inspired by Anna Jarvis, who was not a mother. She chose to honor her own mother with a white carnation, her mother’s favorite. Another childless American icon, Juliet Gordon Lowe, founded the Girl Scouts, and has affected millions of girls for over 100 years. I was one of them. Surely there are myriad of ways to connect with children and offer love and guidance as they grow. Support can be given to moms in need, assistance offered to pro-life agencies, and talents applied to educate the world to uphold the glorious jobs brave moms do every day worldwide.

For those of us who have asked and not received, the challenge is to look at the empty corner in our lives as the next place the Lord will pull us out of life’s slush pile and  put us back into circulation. Each one of us is unique and He will use us as He sees fit because He is God. I am not. For the newly diagnosed Never-Mom, look to Him as your guide and example. Believe that life has much love, fulfillment, and joy for you as you follow the One  who really can sympathize with our weaknesses. What could you do to affect generations of children, now that you have the time?


photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/auvet/2718556208/”>jimmywayne</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;


3 thoughts on “Oh, Barren! Obedient?

  1. Jessica S January 7, 2014 / 1:11 am

    What a beautiful topic to write and share your wisdom (through God) on! Write that book! That is how you can affect and lift up other women. A barren womb is not a barren heart. This was a beautiful, beautiful post.

    You know what? I’m the Senior Editor of Inspirations at a new, faith-based publishing house, Anaiah Press. I agreed to be their nonfiction editor, because I prayed for guidance and there they were. Anaiah literally means “answer of God.” So, my dear friend, write that book and query and send it directly to Jessica.Schmeidler@anaiahpress.com.

  2. blkntan4 January 7, 2014 / 1:49 am

    Bless you for your encouragement and positive affirmations. Words can be like balm to a wound and yours soothed mine today. I ‘m writing as fast as I can with His wind beneath my wings. Thank you, Jessica.

    • Jessica S January 8, 2014 / 4:03 am

      You just take all the time you need. I can be patient. 🙂

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