A battlefield or a dance floor

“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.

His Spirit guides us on a dance floor of amazing grace and resplendent love

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?


  1. says

    I think for most of us an earthly identity is just a label that we use as a common denominator to describe a portion of our lives. It’s only when we become consumed by that label and it turns into something we think about day and night that the battlefield mentality sets in. I waited 8 ½ years between my second and third, I waited 4 ½ years for the first. At times I was so consumed that I could not even look at friend’s babies. I believe that, now that I’m much older the only thing worth being that consumed by is my faith. I love my children and for a time I identified myself through them since my own growing up years were far from ideal. Now, I see that God’s hand in all things is what I want and need, whether it’s a battlefield for my feelings or a dance floor for them,I know He will equip me for both/either or neither. Rejoicing for you as you move into that new state of motherhood!

  2. says

    Amanda, I’ve been a lurker for several months now, and I greatly appreciate your candor and willingness to tell us about your journey. My journey is different, but much of the pain is the same, the pain of desiring another child and not receiving it. I have rejoiced with you as you have learned you were carrying this precious son.
    I ask for your prayers today. I am going in a few short hours to learn if my womb is empty or full. Dozens of negative tests and weeks of waiting for closure and praying for faith are about to end in some kind of certainty, and I am afraid. I am fasting today for courage and faith.
    Thank you for letting me share your journey and helping me to look to the only source of hope.

    Alice, mommy to Grant, 2.5 years.

    • Alice WIlliams says

      I just thought I would update my comment to say what the answer was. After a few more weeks and more testing we learned that I have PCOS and we are now taking steps to overcome it. My body is finally starting to normalize again after a 140-day cycle, and I’m ready to start over! Thank you for your prayers.

  3. says

    I think one danger of infertility is the tendency toward self-focus. The isolation of infertility provides an opportunity to focus on myself, specifically my infertile self. Before too long, my identity becomes only my infertility. In those seasons, infertility gets me down. I have found that the best treatment is to focus on others, recognizing that they are hurting in other ways. Thank you for sharing your journey. You are not alone.

  4. says

    I have often search for blogs that offer some kind of encouragement to those of us waiting on the Lord to bless us with children. Most infertility blog posts leave me even more discouraged than before I read them. :)
    Though my husband and I are really just beginning our journey (TTCing for 16 months now) I feel like I have already experienced the full range of emotions.
    Thank you for the encouragement!
    May the Lord bless you as you seek to bless others.

  5. Michelle says

    Thanks, Amanda. These are some powerful truths; I love your honesty and your commitment to keeping your face set towards Christ. I am so thrilled for you that God gifted you with a child!!! Just beautiful.

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