A few months ago I think I eluded to the fact that for a while church had been difficult for me. I really couldn’t pinpoint the exact reason why. I thought it was because (especially during the holidays) all the sweet little families…complete with children and grandchildren…that surrounded me there. I also reasoned it was because my extended family was not with me at church which in retrospect I realized was a pretty lame excuse. Even before we moved to Charlotte we had left my home church and had found a wonderful church nearer to our home in Hendersonville. We were happy as larks there even though we were not related to one soul in that church.
In the last few months I came to realize the reason I was having such a hard time at church…it was the condition of my heart. I have been disappointed in God, and I have been bitter towards Him and towards people who had received things from God I didn’t think they deserved. I have also been disappointed in Him because He had not fixed things that I thought He should fix.
Mind you, not all of this centers around my childlessness. There are also other areas in which my pride has been rearing it’s big ugly head. I have been envious, jealous, indignant, profane, and judgmental…I could go on.
I’ve also been a whole lot of self-righteous. I’m a rule follower, and I think everyone else should be too. I tend to get really out of joint when people don’t follow the rules and don’t play nice. While it’s good to play by the rules and expect others to do the same when you let that tendency overtake you to the point that you’re angry about something constantly then something’s wrong…very wrong. I knew I had to get to the root of my problem and work through the things that were making me so bitter. I know some bitter people, and it scares me that I could end up like them if I don’t make some drastic changes. So, I asked God to start dredging out the black bile of bitterness in my heart, and He’s begun the process, I won’t lie to you and say it’s anything less than painful. Bitterness is like the Bermudagrass that I pulled out of my flower garden last night. It wraps it’s tentacles around everything good and chokes it out. Just like I had let that Bermudagrass take over my beautiful flowers I had let bitterness over my childlessness (and other issues) wrap it’s tentacles around my heart, and I did not weed it out before it did great damage.
I have thought for years upon years that what I needed to complete me and our family was a child. It was an understandable misconception, because it’s normal and natural for a woman to have a child…we’re biologically wired for it. When it didn’t happen to me but happened to other people…some of whom I didn’t believe deserved it…that’s when the bitterness started taking root. I let that bitter weed have it’s way for years, and it became so prevalent that it choked out many of the good things in my life.
However, after I had prayed that prayer for God to start weeding out the bitterness I had sort of an “ah-ha” moment last weekend as I cuddled my 2-month-old nephew. He was being super-snuggly and looking at me with those innocent blue eyes and charming me as only a baby boy can do. In the past that would make my baby-want meter go into the red zone, but at that moment something odd happened to me. I felt an odd sort of contentment that I was Aunt Vicki and not momma. I was going to eat that moment up and then hand him off to his mother to change the diaper he had filled while I was cuddling him. I suddenly realized that a baby isn’t everything. Seventeen years ago I held my other nephew, and now he’s gone, and not only is he gone…he’s on a dangerous path; one we’re desperately praying that he’ll turn from. I couldn’t imagine what life would be like right now if we were his parents. It would definitely be harder than the life we have now. It’s painful enough walking through this as aunt and uncle.
Getting back to my main point…God planned this life for me. My pastor said it this morning. I have to stop whining about the life he planned for me. I have to give up these hopes and dreams and get to the point to where nothing matters but Jesus. He was talking to a large congregation…many of whom have lost jobs, homes, cars, possessions, and status this year. He was telling them to quit longing to get those things back and just start focusing on Jesus and seeing that everything that comes our way…seemingly good or bad…is always ultimately for our good.
So, I have to start seeing my childlessness as good…the distance from my family as good…my husband’s chronic illness as good and so on and so on. I have to get to the point to where all I need is Jesus, and I’m going to be working on that. I know it’s not going to be an easy or pain-free journey.
If you would like to hear the message I heard this morning go here and click on the sermon from Sunday Morning, August 9, 2009. Loran Livingston is the real deal. Strap on your seatbelt, because he’s an old-fashioned fiery preacher (I love that!), and he gives it to you straight. My toes have chronic bruises from where he’s stepped on them, but by golly, I’ve deserved each and every bruise!
As Anne Graham Lotz says, “Just give me Jesus!”