This week I began a Bible study of the book of Philippians. As you know, I'm constantly fighting off my hermit tendencies. I'm usually hesitant to make a new weekly commitment that involves getting out of the house. Yes, I know how awful that sounds but it's totally true. I know that not everyone going through infertility/RPL reacts this way, but as I've read over the past few months, many of you do. I'm comfortable at home and I feel safe and protected here. I was interested in joining the study, though, so I sent off for the book. When it came in the mail I noticed the title and subtitle on the cover: Philippians: How to have joy no matter what. I knew right then that I'd made the right decision and that this study is right where I need to be.
Philippians is short little book in the New Testament, a brief letter from Paul to the people at Philippi. It's only four chapters long and I'm about to study those four chapters for 16 weeks! I hope that in a few months I'll know its principles pretty well. Today was our first day to meet for the group study and already I'm optimistic about a change in my perspective. Now, I don't presume to tell you that reading those four chapters and studying them will take away all of the pain of IF! I've made a promise to be honest on this blog, and to share the ups and downs along this journey. But for years now I've struggled with letting my circumstances control my life. Sometimes we have very little control over what happens in our lives and the situations we must face. What I want my goal to be, however, is to find my joy in the Lord and not in my circumstances. Whether I have children or not, I want to have joy.
That doesn't mean that you'll always find a "happy, happy, joy, joy" message on this blog! There will still be bad days and I know this all too well. But I don't want to be ruled or controlled by my circumstances or my emotions. Just last night I was overwhelmed as I turned out the light to go to sleep. This is usually one of the most difficult parts of my day. It's quiet and there are no distractions. My mind wanders and I begin to let the weight of my problems take over. I was thinking about all of the pain and disappointment over all of these years, not just for myself but for so many of you as well. I thought about how strength and faith are very good things, but if I could have chosen to skip this horrible experience altogether, I would have. I thought of how unfair it is and how robbed I feel; of hundreds of dollars of doctor visits and pregnancy tests and lab work; and of course, the loss of my children that I'll never get to see on this earth.
All of those thoughts were rolling around in my head and I began to feel hopeless and sad and old. I cried a few tears and then I began to do the only thing I knew to do. I prayed until I fell asleep, and this morning I went to a Bible study about a man who was imprisoned for preaching about his Savior, and yet remained joyful. As he wrote, he continued to rejoice "for I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death." (Phil. 1: 19-20)
I encourage you to read the book of Philippians again if it has been a while, or maybe for the first time. For the next few months I hope to learn nearly every word of it by heart. I know things will still be very hard sometimes, but I'm seeking a change in my perspective. I don't want to let circumstances or people rob me of the joy that exists in knowing Christ. He is my joy - not my future with or without children.
"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" (Philippians 4:4)