when your brain tries to write its own narratives

“Sometimes life is hard, for no reason at all.” Carole Boone, Remember the Titans

When I first found out I was infertile, I told myself there had to be a reason. Surely there was something God knew that I didn’t. There I was, like someone crawling around in the dark, arms extended, desperately grasping for answers. Because that is what the brain does what it doesn’t know the full story. It tries to fill in the blanks so that you can stay sane, so that you can keep living your life without everything spinning out of control.  

First, I told myself it was because God knew I’d be a bad mother. It sounded feasible enough. After all, I am an only child and an introvert. Plus, I yell at my husband quite a bit, much more than I would have predicted before I was married. Maybe I would be the same way with my kids? Or maybe God knew I was going to die at an early age. After all, breast cancer did run in my family. Or perhaps my hormonal deficiency was worse than the doctors were letting on. I came to the conclusion that I was a sickly, angry, terrible human being, and God was protecting my future kids from my presence. In fact, God had to go to such lengths to protect them, that He kept them from coming into the world altogether.

We can go to dark places when we stay in our own heads for too long.

Next, I blamed my infertility on the world we live in. The narrative went something like this: I am infertile because there is sin in the world. Sin caused the world to break, which means there is brokenness in our bodies too. Sometimes God chooses to heal the brokenness (e.g. give infertile women miracle babies), and sometimes He does not. Either way, there’s nothing I can do about it.

This line of thinking, of course, led to a lot of apathy and numbness. I gave up altogether. I stopped praying about my infertility. I didn’t talk to my husband about it. I simply didn’t deal with it. After all, if there was no point anyway, because God was in charge and He made all the decisions and I was a cog in His machine, then it didn’t matter what I did. I could ignore the pain and stuff down the frustration, and I would never have to worry about it again.

Well, I’m sure you’ve figured out that that didn’t work either.

The last narrative, and the one I’m still working through, goes something like this: God has a reason for this, but it is not for me to know (Isaiah 55:8-9), and God is in control of all things, but He is not far away (Acts 17:27b). Or put another way: God is actively involved in this part of my life, and if I am ever going to catch glimpses of His purposes in it, I will have to actively participate as well (Philippians 2:12-13). No more self-doubting and self-loathing. No more apathy and numbness. Just faith, love, and that thing I so desperately need: meekness.

When I look back on the other narratives, it makes sense that my brain went there. I was feeling bad about myself, so I figured God thought badly of me too. And I didn’t want to face the facts, so I figured God didn’t want me to face them either. But the true narrative is Jesus looking at me and saying, “I came to give you life, that you might have it to the full.” (John 10:10) “Your infertility does not disqualify you from that.”   

One day, I will know the reason for my barrenness. But that will be the same day I see Jesus face to face. All that crawling around in the dark will become falling on my knees in the Light. And all that arms-extended, desperate grasping will become arms lifted high in worship of the One who died for me. The only narrative I care about will be the One that put me in His presence, that one that gave me this full life to live, both now and into eternity. 

 

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