Promises, promises


It is one of those weeks where I don’t really want to write, because I am scared of what is inside of me. What is inside of me this week isn’t wise or Godly or awesome blogger worthy. It is messy and scary and painful. I don’t always want to show you that side of me, but it’s better than being fake. So here goes…

My thought life went into a tailspin this week thinking of an old crush a long time ago. He really cared about me, more than I knew at the time. I passed him up because another guy was pursuing me who was more suave and persuasive. It is a regret I have held on to for a long time.

I started wondering if that unwise choice sent me down this road of having no family. I wished to God that I could go tell my 18 year old self to look for the fruit of something when it is still a seed. To go for the kind man instead of the charming one. To tell her that she might have a lot of prospects now, but someday she would have almost none and that she shouldn’t be so picky. That if she passed this opportunity, she might never have a chance at love again.

I also started realizing how very many years ago all of this was and I panicked. A Christian isn’t supposed to be scared of getting older. A Christian isn’t supposed to be terrified of death. But I am.

Oh God, have mercy on me.

I am going to be completely transparent with you here and say that it is times like these that I doubt the goodness of God. I feel like he has promised me things that have never come to pass, and I don’t know how to reconcile that with my view of him.

I can relate to Abraham this way. Abraham was promised a son and I’m sure he thought promise would be fulfilled within months. But it did not happen for decades. How confused he must have been! And yet, Abraham still had faith.  Yes, there were seasons of crazy doubt where he tried to control the situation by getting his servant pregnant. But it says in the verse below that after that episode he kept going. Despite his doubts, despite how dire the circumstances looked, he did not give up on God.

“By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance,  obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going… For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.

And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she  considered him faithful who had made the promise.

And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.

All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. “(Hebrews 11:8-12.)

I, too, am a foreigner and stranger on the earth. Being alone doesn’t feel right because it’s not right. Pain is part of the package of being human, of being strangers on the earth. We long for something more because there is something more. Like Abraham, we look for the city with foundations that are true, a city that is built by God. A place in which we will one day live, where all things will be made right.

But even on this earth, even as strangers, there is hope. Abraham and Sarah along with many other saints did not completely receive the things promised during their lifetime. But there is a good reason for this delay. The promise was for so much more than one son. It was for a nation that would live on for centuries, an inheritance that we ourselves have been grafted into. How could they have possibly imagined how extravagantly God’s promise would be fulfilled?

I am struggling with understanding all of this pain, but like Abraham, I don’t want to give up on God. He is everything to me. I want to have the kind of faith that still believes in God’s goodness even when it doesn’t look like he is good. My pain, no matter how deep, does not negate his goodness.

Maybe, just maybe, I already have the kind of faith that Abraham had. Maybe I have moments of doubt and despair and control like Abraham did when he tried to get the promise of a son with his own strength.  But I have suffered many things and I still believe. I have wavered at times, but I have never broken my covenant with God, and he has never broken his covenant with me.
Perhaps God will fulfill the promises he has given me in ways I can’t understand, like he did for Abraham. Perhaps he will take my tiny seed of faith in his big big hands. Then he will scatter that seed into the wide night sky, a hundred million stars bursting fourth.

He did it for Abraham. He can do it for me too.

Thirty, Flirty, and Fertile (Part II)

As I stated in Part I of this series, when people tell me that age doesn’t matter, I respond with “tell that to my uterus.”

My uterus and I have had quite a few problems in our relationship as of late. In truth, my uterus is pretty frustrated with me.

The argument she has with me all the time sounds like this: “Kate, what am I good for if I don’t house a little baby for nine months? I’ve been sitting down here for over thirty years with nothing to do! I need a job, Kate! Go out there! Find yourself a man! Get married and get these eggs fertilized.”

I feel sheepish and guilty every time my uterus and I talk. Because she’s right. I do need to get “out there.” But it’s more complicated than it seems. I try to tell her that, and she says, “Why didn’t you go out with all those guys who liked you ten years ago? Why were you so picky?”

“I don’t know, Uterus. Life only makes sense in the rear view mirror.” That’s what I always say. Or maybe that’s a country song. Either way, it’s true.

According to the social norms, my uterus and I have exactly three years, eight months, and eight days to get ourselves pregnant.

That is the day that I turn forty. The day that my eggs shrivel up and die. Forever.

If they do by some monumental miracle of God get fertilized after that day, my babies will look like a cross between Jay Leno and Steven Tyler.

At least that’s what the people around me and society have told me.

I joke about my uterus and about roller skating parties, but the truth is, my ticking biological clock is a serious matter. If I can’t sleep at night, I am often thinking about the fact that I am getting older and might never do all the things I dream of doing, especially having a family.

Lately I am realizing how much this is culture induced, though, and that if we didn’t have such a thing as the label of age, I wouldn’t be so scared. Think of the countless references to turning forty that plant fear in all of us. Forty seems to be the marker in which we need to figure out whether our lives are meaningful or not in our culture. My friend who is a midwife in Portland says that half of her clients are in their forties. From the way our culture talks, you would never think that was the truth.

Often when I date someone, I will start out the relationship lightly, but then my fear kicks in. I try desperately not to be desperate. If I am not careful, I end up wearing my biological clock on my sleeve. I all but stand up on the table during a date and do an interpretive dance of the old DC Talk song “Time is Ticking Away” complete with my arms moving to the rhythm like a clock.

I am realizing that this is one of the biggest fears I have dealt with in the last decade. I have let it run my life sometimes, and I am tired of it. If I wasn’t so fearful of this age thing, if I were not so aware of the social label of age, I might be able to date someone without them feeling unnecessary amounts of pressure, without them inevitably taking on some of my own fear. I could date them for a good while so that we are sure about the decision and wouldn’t rush into anything simply because of how many years I’ve lived. It is something I need to work hard to overcome.

The only way that I can possibly get over this fear is to trust God. If God wants me to have a family, I will have a family. He has no time constraints. Nothing is too difficult for him. If I don’t have a family, it will be very hard for me to understand, as it is something that I believe God has promised to me. But I will be okay. I can choose to be a mother in other ways if that is what the Lord has for me.

In Ecclesiasties 3:10-11 Solomon gives us these words.

“I have seen the burden God has laid on men. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. ”

Let’s look at this verse a little closer. You read the first part -“I have seen the burden God has laid on man”- and you wonder. . .what is this mysterious burden that God has laid on men? To have to work to provide food and shelter for your family? The evil in the world? Mosquitos? Joan Rivers?

The next sentence that identifies the “great burden” that God has laid on us is very surprising.

Here is the burden: he makes all things beautiful. 

Why would God making something beautiful be a burden? That sounds much more like a blessing doesn’t it?

Read on and you might understand.

“He makes all things beautiful in its time. ”

This great burden is not that he makes all things beautiful. It is that he makes all things beautiful in his time. In ways that are beyond our limited perception.

Some of us get angry at his timing. We do not like getting older. We don’t like that “Only Be With You” by Hootie and the Blowfish was written in 1995. (How can it possibly be that long ago?) We “cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” Standing within the walls of time, we don’t understand.

Maybe we need a different perspective.

My friend Sam said to me the other day, “Kate, do you realize that if you had a child a few years ago, your baby would most like have had Lyme disease? (Lyme can be passed onto children in the womb.) Maybe it was not God withholding from you when he didn’t let you have a baby at that age. Maybe it was His grace. Maybe He wanted to wait for you to be healthy to let you have a child.” It had never occurred to me before that my having to wait might not have been God stealing something, but him waiting to give me something much better.

We can’t often see things clearly from our limited perception of life. Perhaps God stands above us, above time, as if we are in a parade, and he throws down love on us, like floating ticker tapes. He throws down love from that lofty window, seeing the bigger picture, and we don’t understand what he is doing from beginning to end. But the love still falls down on us, surrounding us as we march on, unaware.

Thank you, Jesus. Thank you for your grace. Whether I have a husband or not, whether I have children or not, even when I don’t understand your timing or my disappointments, I can trust this one thing.

You make all things beautiful.