I’ve laid awake at night scrolling through decades of apologies I’ve needed to make — instances when I didn’t know the unintended pain I’d inflicted or when I didn’t understand someone’s silent suffering. With age, maturity, and hard-fought life lessons, there comes a new understanding of grief. It’s multi-faceted with layers of nuances we never imagined.
I started writing here at (in)courage when the youngest of our five children was in kindergarten. With a large family by choice, the pain of infertility was the farthest thing from my mind. In fact, my parents celebrate thirty grandchildren from only four kids. People joked that there must be something in our family water, and when our eldest son got married, he ran with it. He and his precious wife prepped me for the eight grandkids they’d give us right away.
I couldn’t wait. Our home has been the launching pad for some of God’s greatest missional work. And as I’ve made mothering decisions, it’s been with the knowledge that my parenting choices impact not only our own children but our children’s children. The covenant of family weaves legacy components, and now I had the honor of an additional generation.
But when our son and daughter-in-love found out they had a minute chance of having biological children, we were all devastated. Life changed. Dreams shifted. Future plans were instantly rearranged.
With hundreds of Bible verses addressing the blessing of children, they’d stepped forward offering their family and fertility to Him believing, “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them” (Psalm 127:3-5a).
So why couldn’t this Scripture be their story?
Infertility isn’t often addressed from a future grandmother’s point of view, but watching your beloved child be filled with such heartbreak and face closed doors is a pain for which I wasn’t prepared. While it’s not a cancer diagnosis or a devastating car accident, that diagnosis changed everything. Yet amidst such disappointment, the Lord has drawn me closer to Himself.
My empathy and sensitivity towards those suffering in silence has increased. One out of every eight women deal with infertility issues. Compound that with the pain that one out of every four women miscarry at some time in their motherhood journey, and we have vast ministry opportunities to encourage and support women at every gathering. For generations, these were topics not talked about amidst the “quilting bees” of life. Stunning statistics sat buried alongside hidden hopes for the future.
If you’ve previously walked this road or are presently pleading for God to expand your family whether as a mother or grandmother, I recognize the grief and exhaustion you’re carrying. On behalf of myself and others who didn’t understand the devastation before, I am so sorry for our insensitivity; I know it can be a lonely journey.
It’s been four years of holding our son and daughter-in-love’s sorrow near to my heart. I’ve wrestled hard with the Lord over this diagnosis and He’s okay with that. I’ll admit that I’ve even gotten a little judge-y, pointing fingers at others wondering, Why them and not us? My sin has bubbled up, yet He welcomes my questions, my cries, and even my dashed dreams. He lets me mourn and then reminds me that His Word will not return void. So as the months turned to years, we were invited to claim Galatians 6:9 as our pillar of hope:
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
With that goal, I’ve decided to usher my heart of sadness into declarations of praise for the Lord’s faithfulness and to walk with those journeying through silent suffering. Does this change our kids’ prognosis? No. Are there still questions and uncertainty? Absolutely. But the same God who opens wombs closes them too, so we persevere and trust in His goodness. I choose to believe His promise of hope in a plentiful harvest because it will come at the Lord’s right and appointed time. I have no idea what that will look like, but I know that every embryo, every baby, and every child matters. And so I wait as God continues to write the story for my children.
While He delights in showing His power through miracles, my expectant prayers have shifted: Lord, please expand their family in any way which brings You the most glory. This is hard, but it’s all for You.
And shouldn’t that be our cry every day? With work or neighbors, family or friends?
Show me how to bring You the most glory, Lord. Every single choice is all for You.
Let’s not become weary in our wait. His harvest is coming.