The single pink line on the pregnancy test mocks me from the bathroom counter: You’ll never be a mother. I drop it into the trash — along with my hope.
“God,” I whisper, “why does this have to be so hard?”
That scenario repeated itself for almost a decade of my life. I know what it’s like to wait for something that feels like it’s never coming, to ugly cry, yell into your pillow, fight the urge to give up. Maybe you’ve been there too? Maybe you’re there right now.
What I came to understand through that season is this: God can handle whatever we feel. The hard questions. The tough emotions. Our doubt and despair. Through it all, He’s still there.
With the help of His relentless love, my heart began to slowly, unexpectedly heal. One night at our church small group, just after I’d had a miscarriage, I couldn’t hold it together any longer. “I’m not okay,” I told them. Instead of being dismissed for being too emotional or rebuked for not having enough faith, I experienced comfort and acceptance — and it felt like coming in from the cold.
God also began changing my perspective on motherhood. One morning I read the third chapter of Genesis, where Eve is called “the mother of all living.” In that moment God seemed to whisper this truth to my heart: All women are mothers. Because all women bring life to the world in some way.
I realized I brought life into the world through my words. I birthed books. I was a mother.
Embracing that truth gave me new hope and helped fill the hollow space in my heart.
Years later I sat in my living room watching a documentary about kids who age out of the foster system. The narrator explained that when these children turn eighteen, they’re often simply told, “You’re on your own.” The story touched me deeply, and when people asked if we’d considered adoption, I started answering, “If I adopt, I’ll choose a twenty-year-old.”
One time when I gave that response, a friend of mine asked, “Have you heard of Saving Grace?” It turned out that a transitional living home for foster girls aging out of the system was being started right there in my town. I connected with the founder, and when I told her my dream, she didn’t look at me like I was crazy.
Life got busy and more years passed before I was invited to attend a banquet celebrating the accomplishments of the girls living at Saving Grace. God had impressed on my heart that my word for the next year of my life was love. And the night of the banquet I met my daughter: Lovelle.
How old was she? Twenty, of course. Lovelle and I had lunch together a few weeks later, and she asked me if I had kids. I gave her the short version, and before I left she said, “Well, you can just be my mom.” She met my husband, Mark, and slowly, over many months of building trust, we became a family.
Fast-forward to a few days ago. My granddaughter Eula races around her backyard. The world is full of color this afternoon — yellow dandelions, the pink polka dots on her shirt, the blue sky above. She points out her favorite things to me. “Bird! Wagon! Dommi [the dog]!” When she finally pauses to catch her breath, I find myself in a state of wonder. How did I end up in this moment?
I think back to a decade of infertility for Mark and me, a lifetime of difficulty for our daughter, and how God brought us all together. I think of Lovelle’s wedding day when she wore a white dress and danced with her dad. I think of being in the room when she gave birth, holding her hand and telling her again and again, “You are strong. You are brave. You can do this.”
I think of the first time I held Eula, how she looked at me with her wide, curious eyes — the same ones staring at me now. Almost seven years have gone by since we met Lovelle, and it feels as if we’ve always been a family.
During my infertility, I struggled with thinking that God’s timing must be off or that maybe circumstances in my life had somehow slipped out of His control. Maybe I wasn’t good enough for Him to answer my prayers. I cried in the bathroom, shouted in frustration, found it hard to pray sometimes. Where was God? Why wasn’t He doing what I wanted — and doing it now?
August 28 is the day we legally changed Lovelle’s last name to ours. We call it “Gerth Day” and celebrate it every year like a birthday. And what day was Eula born? August 28 — Gerth Day. When I held her for the first time, I knew deep in my soul that God’s timing had never been off. He had always been in control, and He had better plans than all my demands.
I don’t believe God caused my infertility. But I do believe that He is always working out His good plans for our lives, that there is so much more going on than what we can see with our eyes, that hope is a powerful thing, and that the desires of our heart will not go unmet — even if the answers to them look totally different than what we expect. We all go through seasons of waiting. We can’t determine what will happen next. But we can have hope because our story is not over. There’s still so much I don’t understand, but I know this: the Author is good, we are loved, and He alone holds the pen that gets to write “The End.”
This story was written by Holley Gerth, as published in the Create in Me a Heart of Hope Bible study.
What a powerful story of real, deep, raw hope. This piece appears in the new (in)courage Bible Study by DaySpring, Create in Me a Heart of Hope, available now for preorder. With stories like Holley’s woven together with scripture study by Mary Carver, our prayer is that our new Bible study will help you see the hope God offers each one of us.
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