“Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him and bless his name” (Psalm 100:4). There are days when that isn’t even a second thought to me and I can live in thankfulness. But what about when life is just not going the way you thought it would? When you feel stuck in your circumstances?
My husband and I have been on a two-and-a-half-year journey of starting a family, and it has not been an easy one for me. God is stretching me in ways I never could have anticipated. When we decided to start trying, we really didn’t expect it to take long. We thought maybe at most, 3-4 months and we would be on our way. We tried unsuccessfully for 6 months before my husband left for a year long deployment. When he came back, we had another 6 months of trying before we finally got that positive test. But only days later, that joy turned to extreme sorrow as I realized I was miscarrying our baby (If you haven’t heard our full story, you can read more about it here).
It has now been another 7 months since our miscarriage and I still struggle, sometimes daily, with trying to figure out how to just sit in my hopes and my expectations of ever getting to naturally conceive. This longing has been a part of me for several years. Not just a wishful “some day” thought like when I was a little girl, but a deep longing for my future family. But God opened my eyes to something that I’m approaching the wrong way. I work really hard to isolate my feelings to protect the people I love. I’ve had this mentality that if I don’t acknowledge the fact that I’m having possible pregnancy symptoms again, the next negative test will be easier to swallow. In my mind, I’m protecting my husband from having to feel the huge disappointment every month that I already feel. Or I think that I’m being a good friend by not explaining how every thought of mine is captive to pregnancy, because they will just get bored by the same stories every month and not want to be my friend.
But what God has opened my eyes to this week is that my isolation protects no one. That’s just what the enemy wants me to think. My isolation pushes people away. It makes me feel weighed down and bitter towards my longings. It makes me miss so many opportunities for invitation to community and invitation for God to speak into hearts. I have tried to protect my husband, but God is reminding me that it is not my job! I have tried to control certain friendships, but God is reminding me that He has so much more for those relationships! God is inviting me to be more invitational. To be my messy, broken self who struggles with the same thoughts every month, and to allow HIM to be God and to use my brokenness for His glory. And when I do that, oh it is so beautiful! When I invited my husband this week to carry this burden with me, I did not expect to see God move in him so quickly and so beautifully. But I already see a transformation happening in my husband’s heart that only God can create. Only God can turn our brokenness into something so beautiful. And He will do it, every time, when we respond to the invitation.
In my isolation, trying to force myself to be more thankful for my circumstances gets me no where. But when I stopped focusing on my circumstances and turned my gaze to God, even for a moment, just to respond to the invitation, I found myself living in thanksgiving again. Being thankful for my circumstances because of the way I see God moving in my husband because of the circumstances. Learning to be truly grateful. Isn’t God awesome?
I came across a prayer this week in Stormie Omartian’s book, “The Power of a Praying Wife” that spoke to my heart, so I changed the wording to be about me, and it’s a perfect prayer for my heart today:
“Lord, I pray that I would have a heart of thanksgiving. May I not be broken in Spirit because of sorrow (Proverbs 15:13), but enjoy the continual feast of a merry heart (Proverbs 15:15). Give me a spirit of joy! Help me not to be anxious about anything, but give thanks in all things so that I can know the peace that passes all understanding. May I come to the point of saying, “I have learned in whatever state I am to be content” (Philippians 4:11). You say to me this day, “The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace” (Numbers 6:24-26).
Original image found here.