Sacrifice of Joy

As I’ve said in earlier posts, struggling with infertility is a bit like grieving the loss of a loved one. There are times where the pain is intense and others where it’s just a part of the backdrop of my life.

Lately — this past week in particular — the pain has been thick. Although we’ve done the math to see it’s more than likely that we won’t have the girls until October or November, there is growing political and economic uncertainty in Ethiopia (worse than before) that is bleeding over into our minds and the time between now and the fall seems like eons. We’re watching friends grow their families and wondering at times if God has exiled us to growing a vegetable garden, instead :).

In the meantime, this blog has been a cathartic exercise of working out what I believe God is working in me. And just this week the latest tool He’s given me to walk through this is true gratitude — it’s hard not to write about what even just a few days with this new instrument has done in my heart.

I was challenged by a friend a few weeks ago to keep searching out the beauty coming out from the ashes of my pain over our delays. I’ve seen it in broad strokes but “camping out” there in the day-to-day is a different story.

But the hardest time for me to do this is in the morning. It seems that 7 hours of unbridled thoughts, fears, and anxieties tend to rear their ugly head the moment I hear that dreadful alarm. I’ve gotten used to waking up heavy and staring at the day ahead through the lens of what I lack.

Advice is great — we all love to give it — but there are those certain, supernatural junctures, where the word from a friend or even stranger coincides with God’s in-working in you and it sticks. This was one of those for me.

Psalm 27:6 says:

And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me; Therefore I will offer sacrifices of joy in His tabernacle; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the LORD.

Choosing joy is a sacrifice. To choose to praise God when everything in me points to those things I’ve deemed enemies (enemies of my circumstances, enemies of my plan, enemies of my peace) means letting go of my own sense of justice and trusting Another’s grid for my life. But I’m selfish. I want things “my way” and in my timing. And I fail so often at keeping my mouth shut when either of those is hindered. I guess I’m good lab rat in that way …

So, my little experiment with gratitude has proven fruitful. Just like any other “sacrifice” God calls us to, what’s on the other side is better. After just a few days of choosing joy, choosing praise — ultimately choosing Him, I am OVERWHELMED. God is so good to me. At one point last fall someone prayed over us that this would be the best year yet of our lives. I can say with full honesty it is.

Now, don’t get me wrong — this is not Pollyanna-esque thinking. I’m not manufacturing thankfulness for the ants in my kitchen. I’m just a surveyor taking a look at a plot of land that’s overgrown with brush and needs some leveling, but … if I let my eyes move beyond those things … I find sweet wild flowers springing up from underneath that brush and –there!–a stream, if given the right attention, that would be great for fishing. (And the eyes to see those things came, first, from God.)

These beautiful little girls from Ethiopia (that will be soon disrupting my schedule, my sleep, my plan and my efficiency:) ) would not even be on our radar if it weren’t for the thing I moan to God about the most.

So today I thank God for this:

… my growing heart for Ethiopia and God-inspired prayers for that nation.

… my marriage that’s stronger than it’s ever been, as me and my best friend have maneuvered more than we would have chosen for ourselves this year. Together.

… the extra months and years of preparation for parenting that, in hindsight, we desperately needed.

… TIME — the carved out space in my life to sit before God and meditate on His beauty.

… and I can’t forget the lettuce springing up out of my little urban garden. (Probably the biggest miracle out of all of this — I actually grew a plant 🙂 Maybe now I’ll graduate on to children!)