‘Living on Borrowed Faith’—What Infertility and Misplaced Hope Taught Me About God’s Timing

hope

When I was pregnant with my twins, my husband Blake and I talked a lot about ideal timing for a third baby. We wanted to try again after the boys were two so that they would be almost three when the baby was born. As we got closer and closer to the date we said we’d try again, part of me felt ready and part of me felt like I was still drowning in the chaos of twin life. I’d never felt so busy and scattered before in my entire life. We were just entering the “terrible twos” and beginning the exhausting stage of discipline. Ready or not, we decided to transfer our sixth embryo that fall.

It failed. I was blindsided by the news. I knew in the back of my mind that it could fail, but I was so sure that it wouldn’t. Going into the procedure, I felt so confident. And then the call came. Not pregnant. Even as I held my two miracles in my arms, my heart broke all over again. It sent me back to where I’d been three years earlier, and all the familiar grief came flooding back into my heart.

I was tired of crying over my story, but I also knew that I needed to grieve this loss. So there I sat, crying over yet another failed attempt to bring life into this world, another precious baby lost to us forever. This transfer cost us $10,000. I had poured so much medicine into my body. I had missed time with my boys and my business to prepare. And the worst part? I knew now in a way that I hadn’t fully known before exactly what I was missing out on. I looked my boys in the eyes, and I grieved over the loss of the life that could have been with that little embryo. I pictured birthday parties and middle-of-the-night feedings and first steps and those chubby little hands holding mine and I wept.

Over the next few months, my heart grew numb. I didn’t feel sad. I didn’t feel frustrated. I didn’t feel anything. As we navigated all the decisions about when to try again, I was simply going through the motions. I was unintentionally building walls around my heart because I was so sick of experiencing the same heartbreak. I was tired of riding the roller coaster of emotion.

As Blake and I discussed our options, we realized that we had felt optimistic the transfer would work simply because our last transfer had worked. But, the last time, with the transfer that led to the twins, we had prayed heaven down. We had rallied our prayer warriors. We had prayed, we had fasted, and we had begged God to breathe life into those embryos like our lives depended on it. We didn’t just have hope. We chose hope. We lived hope. We focused our eyes on Jesus, the One who is hope, and ran toward Him with everything we had. We did none of those things this time around. Yes, we prayed. But nothing like we had before. And that had everything to do with why my heart was so numb.

I had allowed my desire to become my hope. I think we often confuse the two when, in reality, they are very different. Desire is what a person wants. But a desire’s strength is inconsistent; it rises and falls with human emotion. Biblical hope is the confident trust that God will fulfill His promises. Biblical hope is steeped in grace. The strength of biblical hope rests on the faithfulness of God Himself. Through His grace, we are blessed with miracles whether we deserve them or not. Doesn’t that just give you chills in the best way? None of us are owed a thing by God, but He pours His grace out to us anyway, blessing richly and fully. How lucky are we?

Still, despite knowing all of that, we continually place our hope in all the wrong things. Even the best of things—doctors, jobs, relationships, our kids, love—aren’t God. And when we place our hope in temporary things that can never completely or indefinitely satisfy, we will always be disappointed.

The sad part of this story is that I knew better. I knew where my hope should be. I knew that hoping in the wrong places led to heartbreak. But I got lazy. And I got busy. I allowed the busyness of raising my boys, being a coach’s wife, and running a business to be an excuse not to be faithful in my walk with the Lord. My quiet times rarely happened, but I had all the excuses, of course. And when I did spend time with God, those times were filled with so much distraction.

Once again, I was living on borrowed faith. I was using the best doctor at the best clinic, and our embryo had a good quality score. Check, check, check. I checked the boxes off in my head and mapped out the plan for how it all would go. My plan. Not His plan. I wanted to have a third baby around the time when the boys would turn three. I liked that age gap. I wanted to deliver in early summer, so Blake would be home more to help me. We made all these decisions around what worked best for us without even asking God what He wanted for our story. We took back the reins and were writing the story of how we wanted it to go. Our hope was not in Jesus. Our misplaced hope was staked firmly in our plan.

So afterward, then the transfer failed and I wrestled over my numb heart, I began to pray and cry out to God. Why this same heartbreak again? I’ll never forget the moment when I stared at my miracle twins, and I felt this truth so clearly placed on my heart. I couldn’t stop thinking, They were not my plan. Over and over that phrase went through my head.

My plan was to have our first baby seven years ago. My plan was not IVF. My plan was to get pregnant the first time we tried. They were not my plan. They were His plan. Every part of my boys’ lives was not my plan. I never wanted twins. I didn’t want to give birth in August as Blake and my mom started back to school. God’s plan was hard. But as I sat there on that couch snuggled up to the cutest miracles I’ve ever seen, none of that hard stuff felt heavy anymore. Why? Because God got me through it all. As I hugged my babies and tears fell down my face, the fog lifted and took the numbness with it.

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Taken from Give Grace by Megan Smalley. Copyright © March 2021 by Megan Smalley. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson. www.thomasnelson.com


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Megan Smalley
Megan Smalley, is the founder of The Infertility Sisterhood and the author of the new book Give Grace. Her new book shares her journey of infertility and lessons she learned along the way to help others accept grace and heal during life’s toughest trials.