For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a wife and mother. Like most little girls, I played house and would name and care for all my dolls. Even before I met my husband, I built my life around having children. I kept toys, books and clothes from my childhood in organized labeled boxes, hoping to pass them on to my children one day. My career in product development and design, afforded me the opportunity to take home discarded samples of products we were developing. So when I started working for a children’s clothing brand back in the late 90s, I started collecting children’s clothes to save them for “one day”.
When I worked in the housewares industry, I collected kids themed dishes and accessories for that day when I would have children. When most people used their VCR (yes…..I said VCR) to record their favorite soap operas, I used to record baby and birthing shows. I had a huge collection of Disney® movies and VeggieTales® DVD’s that I was stockpiling for my children to enjoy.
When God blessed me to marry my husband, I immediately started thinking about when we would have children and daydreaming about what they would look like. When I went shopping I would think to myself, “this dress would be really cute to wear when I’m pregnant”. When we bought my car, my thought was…..”this will be the perfect size for a child’s car seat!” The point of me sharing all this is just to illustrate how my life and my thoughts all revolved around my desire to be a mother. There isn't anything wrong with that desire, but...
Don’t get me wrong, I prayed to God about children, but I just assumed that was part of His plan for me. After 33 years of dreaming about having children, we started trying. Now just to further illustrate my point, during that first year of trying, I stopped buying shoes. Can you guess why? Yep, I had heard that your shoe size can change after you have a baby. I stopped almost all my hobbies and activities because I didn’t think I would have time for them once our baby was born. I started cross-stitching a baby blanket and buying baby clothes and little decorations for a nursery. I’m sure you can guess how the next chapter of my story went. After a year of hoping and trying, we found out that something was wrong.
I was devastated. I prayed, but I continued to pray for what I wanted. I still didn’t ask what He wanted. I just assumed that He wanted us to have children because that was the desire I felt He had put in my heart. Like Hannah, I was sad, upset and bitter about my barrenness. (1 Samuel 1:8, 10) Like Hannah, I continued to beg and pray. Now it would be a beautiful testimony if my story had a Hannah ending and the Lord allowed us to conceive at that point. Then I could insert a picture of our child here and wrap up this post. But that was only the first of a series of disappointments in my infertility story.
After much prayer and counsel from other believers, we decided to try in-vitro fertilization. And by the grace of God, I was pregnant with our first child. We were over the moon happy. Other than my wedding day, I have to say that that was the happiest time in my life. The doctor identified early on that there might be something wrong, but I had faith that God wouldn’t give us this child and take it away. This was our miracle baby.
But nine weeks later I had a miscarriage. Without going into detail, that was one of the most terrifying, physically and emotionally painful things I’ve ever been through. But in the midst of it, I found God’s Grace. Instead of feeling anger, I found submission. It was literally in the middle of pain that felt like what I can only describe as labor-like contractions, that I started saying “Your Will, Not Mine O Lord. Your Will, Not Mine.” I repeated that for hours, while our baby died.
If you have given birth or have had a miscarriage, you might feel differently, but for me, once I was pregnant, our baby was alive. For me, the hours of going through the physical pain of a miscarriage was like helplessly feeling our baby die and not being able to do anything about it. It was in that loss that I started to realize that even though I was a Christian, I wasn’t fully submitted to God. My dreams of motherhood were overshadowing my openness to God’s plans for me.
I wish that in that moment, I had been able to say, “It is Well," and move on, but after that I had more surgeries to try to fix some of the issues that were preventing us from getting pregnant. Nothing worked. I went through a period of being angry with God. I questioned my life’s purpose. I loved the company I was working for at the time, but I felt unfulfilled at my job and out of place as one-by-one, my friends left for maternity leave. I felt shame and like less than a woman. I was overwhelmed with guilt that I couldn’t give my husband a child.
But with each trial, I felt convicted to let go of my will and God drew me closer to Him and illuminated His Will for me. I finally accepted that His Will is more important than the desires of my heart. I still want to be a mother, but I want to fulfill His Will for me more.
After 5 years of trying to conceive, I began a season of prayer and fasting, where I decided to start getting up early in the morning and read the Bible. It was in one of those quiet times with the Lord that He whispered encouragement to me and gave me the idea to send boxes of encouragement to others. In that moment, God restored my joy and gave me a new purpose. Ideas began to flow and I was less focused on the loss of my dream of motherhood. I became increasingly focused on helping other women by encouraging them through the trials they faced. He gave me a new dream.
It’s been over 8 years since this infertility journey began and over 3 years since He gave me the vision for loved+blessed. I still have hope that if God’s Will is to bless us with a child, He’ll do it. He is able! And if not, I’ve accepted that He has given me a special assignment; to use the talents He’s given me to encourage as many women as I can. If my husband and I are never blessed with children, I still want to leave a legacy. So I pray that with each box we mail, that my legacy will be one of encouragement and my testimony will remind someone that there is nothing you’re going through that God can’t see you through.
Your struggle may not be infertility, but no matter what it is, He will make ALL things work together for the good of those who love Him and who submit to His purpose. (Romans 8:28) Life is beautiful, even though we all have seasons of disappointment along our journey. Things happen that we don’t expect, but nothing surprises God. He has a plan for you and it’s better than the plan you can dream up for yourself.
Jamila is the founder of loved+blessed. On her personal mission to leave a legacy of encouragement, she blogs about her own life lessons with the hope that it will bring joy into others lives and help them find the courage to keep walking in faith knowing that all things work together for the good of those who love the Lord. Read her testimony of how God turned her misery into ministry.