Facing Discouragement through Infertility: Lisa's Story

Lisa Nighswonger Picture.jpg

My story, the story of infertility, is not a unique one. In fact, 6.1 million women in the United States share this painful journey with me. For over two decades, my husband and I have battled with the heartache of desiring children, hoping for the “happily-ever-after” ending. Yet with each step we took towards fertility, we only encountered setback and disappointment. And like so many before me, discouragement could have easily become my anthem. Instead of hopelessness, however, God showed me something greater than children. He showed me that His purpose was greater than any maternal dream I might have, and in my loss, he revealed to me both Himself and a vision of the woman he intended me to be.

 As you might guess, however, embracing these truths didn’t happen overnight. God rarely works that way in us. Each barren month that would pass became a rhythm of discouragement. The first year or so, I kept telling myself, “It will happen next month.” But when months turned to years, questions began to plague me: What if His plan for me didn’t include children? How would I live with this loss? Could I joyfully live out that story? It didn’t seem to help that my husband kept repeating in each conversation we would have about kids: “He will give us exactly what we need when we need it. We must not need a child, or we can’t handle one right now.” Aargh! Those words became a potent mixture of anger and sadness that would well-up inside of me. I knew he was right but setting aside my dreams for God’s purpose in my life was not the assignment I wanted. I wanted a baby!

 That was when I happened upon Isaiah 55:8, a verse I have since chosen to make my life verse. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.” And if you continue reading, verse 9 became the hope of my dilemma: “…my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” I began to wrestle with what exactly were His “ways” and “thoughts.” And over time of meditation in the midst of discontent, I arrived at my epiphany: God is so much smarter than me. You were probably smiling as you read that, but for me it was profound. Who am I to tell the God of the universe what the perfect plan for my life should be? God wasn’t walking me down this path with ill will as his intent. He wasn’t in heaven making plans to ruin my dreams and make me miserable. I began to honestly believe that he had something in store that would be better than I could ever design. What I didn’t know was that his design would include children, but from a place I would never have expected—foster care and adoption.

 Don’t get me wrong, there have been days that I’m still overcome with sadness at the loss of my dream. Each time I see a friend place their hand tenderly on their little baby-bump, it is a heartbroken reminder that I may never know that happiness. My path to motherhood did not look at all how I had dreamed. Instead, I faced each day with uncertainty; never knowing whether or not the child placed in our home would stay 1 week or 6 months. But those private moments of sorrow have also become a wonderful place of renewal for me. If God is sovereign and He loves me, and his plan is perfect, then what He wants is a woman who will do anything He asks in order to bring glory to His name. It has allowed me to learn that my story isn’t even about me! It only makes sense in His story. We are supporting actors in the greatest story of all, the story of Jesus. Daily, I would preach this truth to myself, choosing to lay down my dreams willingly and joyfully. And every time I would arrive on the other side of a trial, something amazing would happen…I would look more like Christ than Lisa. Amen!

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