Tag Archive | religion

The Waiting Room

I’m in the waiting room of my Gynecologist’s office. The almost eerie silence is pierced every couple of minutes by the sound of a door swinging open and a soft woman with a wide smile calling a name. I’m hyper-focused on the slight creek the door makes with every swing. I wonder how the receptionists can stand to listen to it all day, every day.

I make my way to the restroom and I’m greeted by a sign that reminds me to check with the front desk before urinating in case the doctor will want a sample. But I know the doctor won’t want a sample because I’m not here for a UTI and there’s no chance that I’m pregnant.

The sign seems to mock me.

How many times have peed on a stick in the hopes of seeing a second line? How many times has my husband said, “I really think this time is it!” when my gut already tells me it isn’t? How long has it been since he stopped saying that because the disappointment hurts too much?

Back in the waiting room there are three other women sitting in chairs, all of whom are obviously pregnant. There is another woman standing at the reception desk who doesn’t look pregnant so for a moment I assume, like me, she’s just here for a routine exam. But she’s speaking loudly so she is easily overheard. At least it seems loud in such a quiet space. She’s complaining because she’s pregnant and getting married in a few weeks. She can’t believe her terrible luck that she will have to spend her honeymoon pregnant. “Can you believe this happened?” she groans to the receptionist. I ponder whether she understands how these things come about and I wonder if she grasps just how blessed she is that it came so easily to her. Then she gripes that this is her second pregnancy in just a few months, and that she took a bunch of Morning After pills the last time so she would miscarry. “I miscarried that baby and it just figures that now I’m pregnant again!” she exclaims.

You didn’t miscarry that baby, you aborted it, I think to myself. A miscarriage happens to something you love. Something you wanted more than anything else in the world. I’ve miscarried and I can assure you it is nothing like you’ve described.

A chemical abortion is still an abortion.

For a moment I have an overwhelming urge to kick her. I’m not proud of that. I probably wouldn’t admit that to someone in person, but we’ve always strived to be real on our anonymous little blog. The feeling was almost tangible. I actually pictured myself doing it. Then in shame, I sent up a silent repentant prayer. It was judgment, jealousy, and violence all rolled into one sinful thought.

Infertility is hard. Really hard.

When my name is called, I follow the soft smiling woman beyond the creaky door toward the examination rooms. The walls are lined with pictures. Picture after picture after picture of adorable, chubby little babies. The offspring of the women who have received their care here.

The pictures taunt me.

“You’re not a real woman” they say.

Women were made to make babies.
You have no purpose.
You’re broken.
You waited too long.
You’ll never be a mother.
You don’t deserve it.
 
Sometimes I think that Gynecology offices should be separate from Obstetrics offices to spare us infertile women the emotional trauma of a visit to the lady bits doctor. Because let’s be honest, going to the Gynecologist is already traumatizing enough without adding in those jeering beautiful infant photos lining the hallways.
 
My doctor tells me even if I didn’t have a chromosomal disorder and even if I didn’t have PCOS and even if I weren’t overweight, I’d still have almost zero chance of conceiving because at my age all my eggs are dead. He also informs me that at his age, my husband’s sperm is dead too. He didn’t use those exact words, but he may as well have.

I feel silenced from talking about this pain because everyone around me seems to think I shouldn’t even want children, what with my age and the fact that I already have step-children. But there is a biological drive to reproduce. There is something deeply ingrained in a woman to be a mother. God created us this way. My step-children are wonderful and amazing and a huge blessing in my life, but I will never be their mother. I can love them, nurture them, and guide them, but I can never be theirs. They already have a mother, and I cannot (and should not) take her place.

They will never call me mom.

Every children’s birthday party, every pregnancy announcement, every baby shower, and every gender reveal is like another stab in an already shattered heart. You avoid the babies in your life. You desperately want to hold them, and yet you don’t, because you know if you do, you will absolutely fall apart. Your façade will slip, your truth revealed. In these situations, it is reality to be authentically happy for others, but almost inconsolably sad for yourself.

And then comes the guilt. Guilt for feeling that way. Guilt for being too-self-focused. Guilt for failing your husband yet again. Guilt for not taking it better. Guilt for not always praising God through the storm. Every month the grieving process starts all over again. You try not to get your hopes up, but you can’t help hoping this is the month for your miracle. Followed by the inevitable let-down, indescribable grief, and the return of the guilt. Did you know that more than half of women experiencing infertility say that it is the most upsetting experience of their lives? Another study showed that women with infertility feel as anxious or depressed as those diagnosed with cancer.

I have no idea how people do it without God.

Because I know God, it’s not all consuming for me. The Lord has blessed me tremendously and I am very thankful. I have an amazing husband and an incredible family. I am truly happier in my life now than I have ever been. I have a God whose love IS all consuming.

In my pain and sorrow, He is there. Always there. I can’t say why my prayers haven’t been answered or if they ever will be, but I can say without any doubt that I know He’s heard me. He knows my tears. He sees my struggles. Even when my attitude hasn’t always been right, He has continued loving me through it all. I am forever grateful for that.

He is a God of the impossible. It was but a few short years ago that I was on this blog moaning that I was still single in a sea of unhitched Christian women with nary a single Christian man in sight. I saw all the impossibilities: the high ratio of single women to men, my below average looks, being beyond the average age for a first marriage, and being too busy, too shy, and too anxious to date, among other things. By my human reasoning, there was no way I’d ever find a mate so there were times that I doubted whether God would send me a one. Still, I was never quite able to give up my hope and when the time was right, God answered my prayers for a spouse in a way that went far beyond my expectations. My husband is so incredibly good to me. He makes me feel loved and valued every single day. He has a tremendous faith in God. He is everything I ever wanted in a partner.

If God can answer that prayer, I know that He can make me a mother. If He doesn’t, then I know He had His perfect reasons for not doing so.

In His Love,
Rebekah L.

 

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Serving Without Measure

A few days ago, I posted about how God was telling me to leave my worldly measuring stick behind and to just love people the way He does, in whatever capacity I can. Today, I’m expanding on that a little bit, just because I think our God is so amazing when it comes to this.

When we think of ‘giving’, we think of it as a voluntary thing. To be a giver is something desirable. When we think of a ‘servant’, we think of someone who is forced into that lifestyle. We think of people were abducted and forced into slavery or something.  We as Christians are also called to be servants, but our obligation is not due to force; it’s due to love. We are free to choose it or not. Still, having made such a choice, it’s no less obligatory.

Let’s think about that for a second. Think of servants – true slaves. They don’t get to pick and choose what tasks they’ll be doing that day.  They don’t get to pick and choose when they’ll serve. They have to be available every moment and they have to do what they’re told. They don’t get to say “I’m tired today, I’ll take a nap.” Or even “I’m tired today, maybe I’ll do the laundry instead of the yardwork.” No. They work where they’re needed, when they’re needed, and often they’re under-appreciated for all they do.

It doesn’t sound like it’s all that fun. However, that is the choice we make when we choose to follow Jesus. Jesus was GOD. He was GOD. And so often, He’d throw away His Godly power in order to be humble and to literally be a constant servant. He taught, He healed, He preached….He was busy. His followers used to worry about Him being so busy. They’d tell Him to stop and rest; they’d tell Him to stop and eat. He’d refuse. His philosophy? He was doing the work of His Father, and so His Father would sustain Him through it. There are several references to Him being tired. He served anyway.

He was right (of course He was!). His Father sustained Him. He gave without ceasing. He had a choice. He choose to give and give because that’s how much He loved us. When we make that same choice, to serve at our own expense, we in turn are showing just how much we love Him and want to emulate Him and spread His love here on earth. And when we do that, when we follow the path God sets us on, God sustains us. He knows when we’re at our breaking point; He won’t push us past it. He’ll bless us when we need it, and provide for us when we need it. All we need to do is make that choice to serve without measuring how hard we’re working or whether or not we want to.

And really, it’s not that much of a choice. Jesus gave endlessly, exhausting Himself and ultimately undergoing torture and death so that I, Rebekah A, would have eternal salvation. He did the same for you. And we are not given eternal salvation, this choice to follow Jesus and live by His example, so that we can pick and choose when to do so. When we choose God, it’s an eternal choice. It’s a choice to give of ourselves when we can. It’s a choice to pick up the cross. Yes we may make mistakes. We fall. But we don’t get to put the cross down. Jesus had help at one point carrying His cross. We’re allowed help too. We don’t have to go it alone, and we don’t have to martyr ourselves. But we don’t get to put it down.  God can temporarily take it from us to give us rest. But when we choose God, and we choose Jesus and the salvation and love that comes with Him, we also choose His lifestyle and we choose to walk on His path. It’s a path of love and peace, but not always one of convenience. And that’s so important for us to remember, because there are no coincidences under God. Every person who crosses your path, crosses your path for a reason. God can use you in every instance. How many chances are we missing because we’re ‘too tired’ or ‘not in the mood’?

So today readers, I ask you to not only lay down your measuring sticks when it comes to your relationships, but lay it down when it comes to actions. Your only starting point should be when God says ‘go’, and your only finish line should be when God says ‘stop.’ He’ll take care of you; you’ll see. And while He’s at it, He’ll move in amazing ways in your life. After all, He loves you just as much as He loves the people He tells you to serve!!

God bless!

~Rebekah A

 

Leaving My Measuring Stick

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” ~Matthew 7:1-2

This scripture, or really all of Matthew 7, really hits home. In fact, I was talking about it with a friend the other day. I was realizing all at once just how flawed my servanthood is.  See, I try to have the heart of a servant (as we should!) and I suppose I do. But it isn’t a constant heart.  I’ll give – either time, prayer, food, whatever it is I can give to bless a person. And at some point I expect that to be reciprocated in kind. I get frustrated when it isn’t. Then I complain.

The law of common sense says ‘you get what you give.’ It’s human nature to expect it and desire it. But when we expect appreciation and support from people for doing things we’re supposed to do anyway (we are called to be servants, after all), and don’t receive it, it can trigger bitterness in us and can even start to affect that relationship. And really, it makes no sense to apply human nature here; you can’t use worldly standards to measure God’s work and calling. It just won’t add up. Serving someone the way Jesus said to, and by Jesus’ example, and using my human measuring stick to determine that the person I served should now turn around and bless me….well that’s just silly. The concept of having the heart of a servant is all over the place in the Bible. The concept of serving only when it’s reciprocated is nowhere. When Rebekah watered all those camels at the well and spent hours doing so, was she measuring how much she would get in return from this elderly servant? No. She helped without measure, as she was called to.

A few days ago I posted about a friend who has had a lot going on, and how no matter how much time and prayer I gave to her, I felt like when I needed prayer, I was brushed aside. The more I thought about it, the more I realized I was thinking in terms of ‘she always ____’ or ‘she never ____’. I was generalizing. And it wasn’t fair. After all, how many mistakes have I made in the eyes of the Lord? How many times have I put God second or pushed Him farther back on my to-do list that day? And yet, for all that, is Jesus really holding up a measuring stick to my faith? Is He measuring how small my steps are today compared to what they were yesterday? Or how far to the right or left my focus is, rather than on the straight and narrow path He’s set before me? No. He isn’t. He may temporarily, just to bring it to my awareness what I’m doing. But as soon as I repent and bring my focus back in, He simply applauds me for coming back on track.

And yet, here I am, holding this measuring stick up to the friendship of a person who, like me, is only human. We’re flawed.  And our flaws come with us when we sit at God’s table.  It’s not up to us to decide who ranks better or what somebody ‘should’ be doing or how we ‘should’ be treated. Should Jesus have been crucified and tortured? Of course not – He didn’t deserve it. But He took it. And in spite of what He went through to save me, and in spite of the horribly poor job I do at repaying Him, He loves me. There is no condemnation in Him when I make mistakes, only forgiveness and love. My steps have been guided by Him today, but not measured. Neither should I measure anyone else’s.

So I am trying to break this habit of score-keeping when it comes to giving. My serving and blessing someone should have nothing to do with whether they’re serving and blessing me.  I’ve actually started looking at it as a training ground. If I can’t serve a fellow Christian (someone who will pray with me when I’m dragging and faltering), how can I ever go out and serve others? Jesus, give me Your heart for this world. Help me to keep focused on Your eyes alone, and let the fire I see in them burn up my worldly measuring tools. No tool I have can show me Your work. So God, keep my eyes on You and give me a heart that takes joy in blessing others as you have so abundantly blessed me. I love You, Jesus, and in Your name I pray.

I invite you, readers, to take a second and think about what measuring sticks you’re holding. Go through your relationships – friends, family, acquaintances, and coworkers – and look hard at the dynamic of the relationship. Is there someone you’re not inclined to do favors for because you know they won’t do the same to you? Is there someone you are frequently frustrated with because you give and they seem like a ‘taker’? Anyone in your life you’d classify as a mooch? Take a hard look at these relationships, and submit them with me to the Lord.  Ask Him for His heart for each of these people, and to bless you with a generous spirit for them in spite of how they appear. Drop the measuring sticks once and for all. Lay them at the Lord’s feet and allow Him to take over and dictate how you serve – when, whom, and how often.

Our Savior was the ultimate example of this, and gave the ultimate gift. Compared to Him and what He did for us, neither we or our friends are all that great. Or all that generous. And He isn’t measuring us. So it’s time to stop measuring each other!

I’d love to pray for you in this and anything else God is doing in your life – write to me at being.rebekah.a@gmail.com. God bless!

~Rebekah A

Blessings For My Past, Present, and Future

“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and He will establish your plans.” ~Proverbs 16:3

We all have goals in our lives; maybe you want to work towards a promotion, or to work towards getting out of debt, or to find someone to be in a committed relationship with. The awesome thing about God is, He knows your heart. He knows what you want, and He genuinely wants to bless His children. He really does. He’s a loving Father, and whether the desire be little or huge, He wants to bless us.

I’m not saying He wants to give you everything you want. We don’t always want the right things for ourselves. But He does want to bless us. And He can. Of course He can; He’s God. But in order to be blessed by God, we need to put Him first. It really is that simple.

Take finances. The Bible says to tithe. To tithe is to put God first, and to sow into His plan for your church and your life. Take education. When I was applying to grad school, my grades were good, I had some solid field experience, and I was a great essay writer. I mentioned God and church in my essay, and tied my Christianity into who I was as a person. This is breaking a cardinal rule of essay-writing, and I knew it. I did it anyway. Why? Because I wanted God to be first. I wanted it to be His plan in His time, not mine. I was rejected from the school. The year prior, I had applied to the same school, didn’t mention God in the essay, and was the top waitlisted candidate. The only difference was putting God first. It seemed like a disappointment, but my life would have looked totally different right now had I followed myself instead of my Father. And not for nothing, but I like my life. And with the life I have, my walk with God is stronger than ever. That school rejection might have been one of the biggest blessings in disguise I’ve ever received.

My pastor talked about this at church today. He essentially said to look at where we want blessings, and put God first in those areas (it should be every area!!). But it’s a simple thing to do. If you want God to bless your finances, sow into God’s financial plan. If you want God to bless your career, put Him first in your career. If you want God to bless your relationships, put Him first in your relationships.  We heard a testimony of a newlywed couple who were $100,000 in debt, but decided to tithe anyway. They were debt-free two years later. They gave their trouble to God, sowed into His plan, trusted and believed Him for it, and He blessed them in kind. I know of another girl who went to Harvard and was so busy, but decided to dedicate two hours of her day to God anyway. In turn, He started multiplying her time so that not only did she complete her tasks and studying every day, but she actually had some time left over for herself. When we put God first, even if it’s a short-term hardship, His blessings can be amazing.

Putting God first reconciles your past – it shows you’ve learned from your mistakes and are no longer willing to do things your own stubborn way anymore. It also shows God that you’re putting Him first for today, your present. And it shows God that you have faith in His plan for your future. When you put Him first by your actions, He is first in your heart. Which is right where He should be, because that’s where He can work the most and direct your life the most effectively. And yes, pour out blessings upon you too.

God bless!

~Rebekah A

The Real Miracle

“Jesus said to her, I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives in me and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” ~John 11:25-26

It’s Easter. Resurrection Sunday. The day we celebrate the miracle of the Christian faith.

Which brings us to the question, what is the miracle of our faith? Jesus died, remained dead for three days, and rose back up to walk out of his own tomb. He died. Legitimately died. No breathing, no heartbeat, only a corpse. For a full three days. There was no “oops we put someone in the tomb who wasn’t really dead” moment. He was legitimately dead for three days. Then he came back to life, and has remained alive ever since. He’s alive and ruling in Heaven, and He’s alive and ruling in our hearts.

But at church today I heard the pastor say something that put it into even greater perspective. He said, “the miracle is not that Jesus was dead and came back to life. The miracle is that I have life.”

And it’s true. The miracle of the Christian faith is not that God can conquer death. God created life and death; of course He can control it. He can walk on water when nature says He should sink. He can heal the sick when nature says they were born with a deformity. He can take a loaf of bread and turn it into many, when nature says bread must be baked from more ingredients. He can raise a person from the dead, when nature says death is permanent. The fact that He raised Himself is really no more surprising than anything else He died. He defied the known facts of the world, because He created it.

But the real miracle here is that we are raised from the dead. Because of the blood shed 2,000 years ago, we have eternal life. We, if we live in Christ and believe in the salvation He gave us, will not die.

Think about that for a second. We will never die. We. will. never. die. Sure, our bodies may die, and there may be a certificate that says a time of death, but since when has the flesh ever been important? As Christians we are meant to live in the spirit; we’re citizens of Heaven, not the world. So our flesh may well shut down and decay; but by the time that happens, we won’t be part of it. We’ll be rejoicing and worshiping and basking at the feet of our Lord, Father, Husband and Savior. He died, that we would live.

So spend time with Him this week. When you wake up in the morning, thank Him for His sacrifice. Thank Him for the eternal life He gave you. Thank Him, and take a second to dedicate your day to Him. Yes, you are still flesh. But you’re also spirit. And He gave you your life for eternity; there’s no reason why eternity can’t start today, here on earth, right where you sit. So dedicate your life to Him. It may be a moment by moment dedication. You may have to say every morning “Lord I give you today in my life”, or even break it down further with “this conversation belongs to You, Lord”. It doesn’t matter how you do it, just that you do. You know that if you live in Christ, you’ll never die. So go ahead and start living in Him with new focus and new dedication. Claim your eternal miracle.

God bless!

~Rebekah A

A Matter of Perspective

I just want to take a minute today to thank God and praise Him for the change in heart He’s given me recently. I had a tough time adjusting to life in NYC; I missed and still miss my friends, and haven’t really found my niche here yet. Still, God has been telling me to be patient, and in the meantime He’s been slowly but surely working in my heart.

First of all, I found the endless to-do lists a little bit overwhelming when I first got here. God has been showing me that these ‘chores’ are not simply tasks. In fact, if I use that time to pray over everyone who might be touched by what I’m doing (mostly my roommate, but anyone who comes to the hosue really), the chores become blessings – not just by the task itself but because I’m covering the people in my prayer. I haven’t been doing this as consistently as I think God would like me to, but I’ve been working on it; I love the idea of constant prayer as simply a matter of routine.

Second, God’s been telling me to trust Him when it comes to employment, and not jump into something out of necessity that will take me out of His intended path for me. As interest from my student loans has increased and my bank account has dwindled, it’s been harder and harder to hold onto this promise. BUT, right when I was starting to get really desperate, God worked it out so I found some temporary employment – exactly what I needed to tide over my bank account while I continue to look for what He wants me to do.

Jesus, I thank you that every detail is in your hands, and that you know exactly how to speak to our hearts so that even the burdens you call us to bear, the things that would normally worry us, are lightened and taken care of by You. Thank You for giving me Your full attention, and never forsaking a single aspect of my life. I love You, Jesus.

~Rebekah A

Wanting It More

You know how sometimes things come up that you love to hate? Maybe we had a bad day and are talking about it, and get into ‘poor me’ mode. After awhile, we start to thrive on how bad we have it. Nothing can cheer us up, and often we don’t even WANT to be cheered up because we’re thriving on the attention and sympathy. On some level, we’d rather have a problem to complain about than a solution. Or maybe it has to do with people – in choosing who to make plans with or who to date, there are often multiple options. God can easily guide our steps here, but how often do we fail to ask Him, preferring to agonize about it and analyze it ourselves. We prefer the attention and the fantasy to the reality that these problems have solutions and you can get wisdom on them in seconds if you just ask God. It can be surprising how many areas we have like this, and how quickly we can slip into playing the martyr rather than ask God for guidance in that moment.

However, God brings unconditional love, and He brings peace. There’s no drama in His presence. We bring the drama we get from the world, we give it to Him and He takes care of it. He empties it from us, and fills the void with Himself. We have an easy time submitting bad things. But for some reason, we harbor these ‘martyr’ situations. We harbor the dilemmas that bring us extra attention. It doesnt even always cross our minds to submit those things. But to he used fully by Him, we have to give it ALL. We can’t be concerned about the attention our daily problems give us, or the credit we get when everybody knows how difficult it was to accomplish something. Our identity is in God, and we don’t have to fight for His attention. He sees everything anyway.

We have talked about fasting, and how when fasting gets tough we ask ourselves do we want this food, or do we want God more? We choose God, Nd fasting becomes bearable. We want Him more than anything else, and in that mindset, we will do anything to seek Him.

It is time to get into that mindset with our hearts. It’s time to ask ourselves, “Do I want God and God’s plan, do I want to thrive on my savior, or do I want to thrive on this problem that doesn’t even need to be here?” God vs problem…it’s a no-brainer. We’d choose God every time.

I’ve heard it said that living with Jesus is expensive, and that love will cost you. I think that’s a heart issue and we should count the cost here – it’s way more expensive to thrive on drama than on peace. It’s more expensive to hold on to our flesh than to let our Savior show us how to live. So spend time with Him today, and ask Him to show you your ‘martyr’ areas – things that are bogging you down when they don’t really need to be, or things that you haven’t given God full control over yet. Go through the problems and questions in your life and ask yourself “Do I want this dilemma or do I want God’s plan?” If you reach the no-brainer answer, as I did, it’s time to finally say “God, take this from me and guide my steps”. He will, and you will wonder what you were ever holding on so tightly for.

And as always, if you want extra prayer or support, or just to chat, i want to hear from you! So write to me at being.rebekah.a@gmail.com. God bless!

~Rebekah A