“I don’t understand why you let infertility be your identity.”
I was engaged in a conversation with an acquaintance of mine who has a young child. It was one of those conversations that I look back on and hope I demonstrated enough grace. While I count it an honor and privelege to share about infertility and help others be more aware of the burden of barrenness, sometimes I’m caught off guard by their questions.
But the question, “Why let infertility be your identity?” really resonated with me, and I spent weeks pondering the fact that I’d never considered this question before now. My first reaction was, “Why let you being your son’s mom be your identity?” But I knew if I said that it would sound snarky, and I didn’t mean it that way at all.
Does Infertility Define Me?
I asked myself that question so many times. And at times, it did. There were times – weeks and months even – that my heart was so consumed by our childlessness that I could think of nothing else. Being childless cut to the core of who I always thought I’d be.
But my barrenness did not define who I was, or what I hoped to become. My faith in Jesus defined who I was: a daughter of the King of Kings, wholly underseving of His resplendent grace, but a grateful recipient of the most history-making, life-changing act of mercy this world has ever known. That defines who I am.
And my identity ultimately rests in who I am in Christ. My mind knows this, and my heart depends on this.
But we all identify ourselves by our accomplishments, circumstances, and self-awareness, don’t we?
Some of us are career women.
Some of us are wives.
Some of us are single.
Some of us are diabetics.
Some of us are mothers.
Some of us are childless.
Some of us are waiting-to-be-mamas.
A woman who has dedicated her adult life to getting an education and climbing the corporate ladder will likely find much of her identity in her successful career.
Someone who desires to be married, but is still waiting for “the one” will likely identify themselves as single.
A wife and mom who stays home with her children will identify herself as a stay at home (or work at home) wife and mom.
These are who we are.
I think there is a delicate, fragile balance of allowing ourselves to find identity in our circumstances or accomplishments, but knowing that our worth and value, and ultimate identity comes from Christ.
While examining my own heart on this issue I looked to the Word of God. And I was encouraged to see women just like me, who wrestled with their childlessness. Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, Hannah, and Elizabeth are identified in Scriptures as women who were barren. The Bible clearly and painfully describes their childless state, and offers the encouraging truth that God had not forgotten or abandoned them.
In fact, in each of their lives Yahweh shows up in a mighty, unmistakable way. I want that.
Oh how my heart was stirred when I realized that God saw my childlessness. He knew my barrenness. And while it seemed He may have forgotten me, I knew He was at work in my life.
Friends, take joy in knowing that God uses our self-imposed identies to shape us into the image of His Son. He is constantly at work in our lives to make us more like Himself! And that is where our ultimate identity lies.
Was infertility my ultimate identity? No! But neither is motherhood.
Waiting on God’s timing, choosing to trust, and submitting to His will takes perseverance. Sometimes it is a beautiful dance with His spirit leading us on a dance floor of amazing grace. And sometimes it is a battlefield where our will collides with His and we are wounded by our own stubbornness.
Can I encourage you today? That heartache and struggle you carry? Maybe you need to let it go, breaking free of the weighty burden you bear, and abandoning a battlefield raw and broken by the war of wills. But maybe you need to embrace it and understand that God sees and knows – and He is drawing you near to Him, and guiding you on a dance floor of amazing grace and resplendent love.
Are you standing on a battlefield or a dance floor? God turns our wrestling into a beautiful dance. Will you let Him?