The past 8 months in a nutshell: Lost my job. Applied for 100+ jobs. Didn't get 100+ jobs. Began house search. Met new niece and nephew. Met with doctor to begin preparing for getting pregnant (not trying now, just preparing so we're ready when we decide to start). Found out about PCOS. Went off meds. Put an offer on a house. Lost said house. Turned 25. Began planning 4th wedding anniversary.
Looking at that list, I suppose it would be easy to slump into a vegetative state, wallowing in the misfortunes and ignoring the celebrations. I admit there have been times when I've been tempted to, and a few where I've succumbed. But the fact that my outlook has remained relatively bright is nothing but a testament to God's strong hand holding up Jonathan and I through so many changes and roadblocks.
There's a driving force that allows me to handle these challenges. I'll give you a clue: his name starts with "J" and ends with "esus". Here's a list of "little victories" that He's helped me win:
1. Employment. Our only income for 8 months has been from Jonathan's job, and my unemployment. However, our savings continues to grow. It's not depleting, it's not even just stagnant. It's slow, but it's growing. God is providing.
2. Budget. I'm a raging shopaholic. When Jonathan and I decided that it was time to get serious about buying a house, we put ourselves on a spending freeze, save for the necessities.
I thought it would be difficult to not have a clothing budget, or even a monthly petty cash budget for Starbucks or makeup or pedicures. Lo and behold, I've actually enjoyed the shopping handicap. God is teaching me that shopping isn't as fulfilling as I thought it would be. I'm being filled by joining BSF, volunteering at a hospital, and saving my Christmas gift cards for something that I really, really love.
3. Houses. A few weeks ago we had to walk away from a house we fell in love with. We got tantalizingly close to mutual acceptance, but it got to the point where he couldn't go any lower, and we couldn't go any higher, so we had to walk away.
The night we realized it wasn't going to happen, I moped and pouted and allowed myself to wallow in anger. The next day I waited for the depression to overwhelm me, but instead I felt peace and - to my great confusion - relief! Although our final offer on the house was very possible for us, it would have made the next year or two quite uncomfortable. God understood that I still want to be able to shop and go out to eat and take a vacation once in a while, and these things would have been nearly impossible if we'd bought the house. There were no "if only's", no "why me's," no "it's not fair's". Just peace. I know my mental and emotional limits, and I'm telling you, that peace didn't come from my own mind!!
4. Bible study. Jonathan joined BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) last year. He'd been patiently and persistently urging me to join the women's group, and I irritably and self-righteously (and as graciously as I could muster) declined. I knew my walk was stagnant, that I hadn't willingly opened my Bible in who knows how long. I didn't have doubts, but I also didn't have motivation.
When January's intro night rolled around, I felt a need to make an effort to honor God, and a longing for fellowship. Now, 5 months later, the last night has concluded and I'm bummed about it. I'm going to miss being held accountable to meet with God throughout the week. I'm going to miss the fellowship. Not for too long, though. We resume with the study of John in September. :)
5. PCOS. This is the big one for me. My greatest fear in life is inability to conceive. We've been discussing starting a family, and while we aren't trying right now, I thought I should get my body prepared so that when the time comes, we'll be ready and have our ducks in a row. I visited my doctor in March and told her about some health issues I've had, including a couple hospital visits. She ordered an ultrasound and blood draw, and the resulting diagnosis is PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome). It's a condition that causes abnormal hormone levels leading to - among other symptoms - multiple ovarian cysts, and quite possibly infertility by way of anovulation.
Enter panic, racing heart and sweating.
It's possible that I ovulate just fine on my own. My doctor (who is fabulous, by the way!) has me charting my cycles, and the data will show whether I'm ovulating or not. If I don't ovulate, there are some treatments, but Jonathan and I haven't discussed them yet, and I know already we aren't sure where we stand on infertility treatments for ourselves.
It's not just parenting a baby that I crave, it's carrying one. I understand all the pains and problems that come with pregnancy, and I swear I'm not masochistic, but I can't wait for all of that. I can't wait for the experience. The idea that I may never get to do that is terrifying. God is forcing me to rely on Him. To be honest, I'm not sure I would trust Him this much if I didn't have to, if I could take control of things myself. It's scary, but at the same time, it's a weight off my shoulders that I've got Someone so much greater to do it for me. My new mantra is Matthew 11:28 - "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."
I had a revelation the other night reading the incredible, heart-wrenching story of Todd Smith of Selah, his wife Angie, and their child Audrey Caroline. Todd and Angie found out when she was 20 weeks pregnant that their daughter Audrey would almost certainly die either in the womb, or immediately upon birth. (Angie's faith is impossibly strong, and I encourage everyone to read her story.) With tears streaming down my face, I read about their journey and realized that I would rather conceive and miscarry than never have the chance at all. To all the mothers who have miscarried, I understand - as best I can - that the grief never goes away, that it's a life-changing loss, and that you would probably never wish such an experience on anyone. That said, given that I would willingly put myself through that may help you understand just how strong my desire to carry a child really is.
I won't know for some time if I'll be able to someday conceive. I think about it every day and constantly remind myself that it's fully in God's hands, not mine. (Then I have to remind myself to be okay with that.) Of all the trials that have come my way in these eight months, I anticipate that PCOS will yield the greatest results, and for the better, regardless of the outcome. Either I will be rejoicing that God gives us a child, or I'll be rejoicing that my worst fear realized has found me nestled into His arms for comfort.
All in all, thank God for trials, because without them I would be proud, arrogant and dependent only upon myself. Thank God for the little victories that He allows me, knowing that all suffering and no relief would leave me lifeless and despairing. Time will tell what the final outcomes are, and I look forward to sharing how He's blessed me through victories or losses.