It was several months ago and a little past noon when I zoned in on the wedding picture that sat on my husband’s desk at work. I couldn’t help but notice that the look in my eyes and the smile on my face was not the same look and smile that I was wearing. It was different now. I remember leaving his office that afternoon wondering where the woman in that picture had gone. She was different now.
So much about my mind and body have changed in the last eight years since that picture was taken. When I see it, I remember a 23-year-old woman who was confident and felt beautiful. She was so innocent and naive to the world around her. Never once was there a thought in her head that the journey to motherhood would be so difficult and long-suffering. Never did she hide from cameras or avoid walking past mirrors.
But now, eight years later, she knows all too well the devastation and pain infertility, PCOS and an early miscarriage can cause. She now hides from pictures and doesn’t even own a camera. And mirrors? Oh how she hates mirrors; each time she takes a glance in one, she can’t help but take immediate notice of the symptoms she has related to PCOS. Each day she cries over the 40 lbs of weight gain due to insulin resistance as she tries to squeeze into her favorite pair of jeans and because of the extra male hormones in her body, she spends over 20 minutes of her morning and nightly routine trying to pluck out the dark and coarse hairs on her chin before applying the expensive lotions and potions in hope they will reduce the oily skin and blotchy appearance also associated with this illness. When she looks in the mirror, she doesn’t see a confident and beautiful woman who stood on the sandy beaches of the U.S. Virgin Islands eight years ago. What she sees is brokenness.
She sees a face of infertility.
Infertility has had a way of ruining my self-esteem. The devil has used it in many ways and for many reasons. He wants to make me feel broken and ashamed when someone asks “the question.” It’s the question that makes all women struggling to conceive upset and uncomfortable even if it’s for a second. It’s the one that makes our hearts race, palms sweaty and our stomachs hurt. It’s the question in which I have to answer back saying, “No. We don’t have any children at this time.”
When I walk into a room, I immediately feel insecure as I think about everyone seeing me as the girl with the blog who struggles to have children. I wonder what they are thinking. Do they think I must have done something to deserve this punishment? When I sit amongst the other guests at a baby shower or gender reveal party, I cannot help but feel as though all eyes are on “the infertile.”
Will she cry? Will she run to the bathroom for a meltdown?
Is her laugh genuine? Are her smiles real or just a show to hide the pain?
The enemy wants me to feel ashamed and insecure. He not only wants me to feel less of a woman, but also less of a Christian. He wants to beat me down with thoughts that I don’t have enough faith or that I haven’t jumped through the right religious hoops in order to receive God’s blessing of motherhood. He wants me to feel disgraced, humiliated and condemned as if I am being punished for my past. He wants me to see my body as only broken and infertile and that my gift of healing is a work to be completed rather than already finished through Jesus’ work at the cross. He wants me to think that my lack of children and diagnosis define who I am, but it’s not who I am.
Or is it?
Just two days after examining my wedding picture and leaving my husband’s office in tears, a woman in church randomly came over to me in the middle of worship and said, “You are not a face of infertility. You are a face of His promises kept” before turning around and walking away. Immediately I began sobbing. How did she know my deepest thoughts–the ones even my husband doesn’t know? How did she know I have been spending my afternoons crying over my broken, infertile body?
She didn’t know; God did.
And she (God) was right. When He looks at me, He doesn’t see what I see. I am not just my blog. I am not just a woman desiring to have a child. I am not the numbers on the scale and the imperfections I or anyone else can see in the mirror. I am not my doctor’s diagnosis and the opinions of others or even the opinions of myself. I am not my past or what hell says I am.
I am a wife, a friend, a sister, a daughter, and a devoted woman of faith. I am a foster mom to a beautiful little girl. I am fearfully and wonderfully made and created to be a mother (Psalm 139:14). I am an encouragement to others. I am the name God loves to call and the apple of His eye. I am His beloved child and the delight in His voice. I am forgiven of all my past mistakes. I am healed by faith of anything and everything that is causing me to not conceive (Isaiah 53:5). I am one of the best of His creation because I am created in His image. I am His workmanship (Ephesians 2:10). I am beautiful.
When God looks at me, He doesn’t see my past. He doesn’t see failure. He doesn’t see a broken, infertile woman. He doesn’t see statistics, PCOS or the symptoms. He only sees His promises kept.
I am not a face of infertility.
I am a face of His promises kept.
And sweet friend, so are you.
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