Wednesday, September 21, 2005

How Hannah Ministered to a Single "Woman In Waiting" (for a Husband)

I was engaged at 18 and married two weeks after my 20th birthday. I can relate to years of crying out to God in longing for a husband about as well as a woman who gets pregnant her first month trying to conceive and carries to term without a glitch can say "I know just how you feel!" to an infertile woman. Yet, though I do not know this experientially, I've always felt that the infertility journey must have many parallels to being single and longing for marriage. I can't say, "I understand," but my heart still is tender toward those longing not only for motherhood but for the closeness and fellowship of life partnership as well.

With this having been said, it is a blessing to me to begin hearing from single woman who have been blessed, challenged or encouraged by Hannah's story. I would like to share an excerpt of one such letter that shows how the active and living Word of God can have far-reaching effects. Shauna Bowman has been gracious enough to let me print her story:

I probably should warn you this is a fan letter of sorts, for both you and Hannah. I just finished Hannah's Hope and I am so blessed, encouraged, impressed and inspired.

First of all, I think you are now my latest and greatest hero. I am so impressed with your work on your book and how many thousands of lives you have touched through your ministries. God truly knows how blessed I've been to find Hannah's Prayer. Having been unable to get a hold of anyone [at my local pregnancy loss support organization for Arizona], I don't know what I would do floundering on my own without HP.

There were so many things in the book that I found myself identifying with that I never expected. First off, I guess I should tell you where I'm coming from. I have an almost 2 year old boy and I just had a pretty nasty miscarriage -- you've responded to my posts, but I don't expect you to remember everybody here! I've never considered myself infertile, but I've always been a big fan of Hannah's.

In fact, when I was pregnant with my son, I was on bedrest for 2 months. Like you mentioned you did in the book, I started to journal through the Bible page by page for every mention of pregnancy. I got a lot of really encouraging material and last year I decided I should try to make a book out of it, maybe a devotional for pregnant women or something of the sort. I started writing quite a bit, but then when I got to Hannah last winter I just hit a block and have been stumped ever since. I think God had me hold off for several reasons, but losing my own baby has completely opened my eyes to a world of hurting women I never really acknowledged existed before.

I had identified with Hannah myself before though, but from a different angle. I was nearly 27 when I got married, not because I was too busy working on a career or I couldn't make a commitment, but because, in my estimation at the time, nobody wanted me. I now realize how awesome it is that God saved me for my precious husband (I can't imagine a better guy!), but those years of waiting and wondering if marriage and motherhood were not what God had in His plans for me were agonizing.

All I ever wanted was to be a mom, really, and here I was being denied the desire of my heart because I had no man to even make that a possibility. I suppose to most, 27 isn't really that old-- and in retrospect I'm so grateful for the life I had prior to getting married-- but I had been waiting so long, I'd pretty much given up hope. I'd even jokingly said, as a teenager, if I wasn't married (or at least had some serious prospects) by the time I was 25 I was going to hang myself. Well my 25th birthday came and went with no "prospects" and I was devastated. For some reason, that was the point of no return for me.

A few months later, my little sister (3 years younger) newly married came to me in a state of panic over her positive pregnancy test-- she was especially upset that she wouldn't be able to ride the "good rides" at Disneyland because she was now pregnant. I was even more devastated. I couldn't understand why everyone I knew and loved was being given this great blessing of marriage and family when I was being denied. So I got down on my knees and took Hannah's example and wept for a child (following a husband, of course). I had peace for a short time after that point and then a month and a half later Robert asked me out.

Anyway, I'm just mentioning all that to say I was amazed at how much in your book rang true to me in that stage of my life. I remember detesting Mother's Day every year of my twenties until I got married. Especially in my little churches, I'd often be lumped in with teenage girls because I was single while women younger than me got to sit at the "big girl" tables simply because they were married. (I even got demoted to the kid's table the first Thanksgiving after my sister got married so that there would be room for her husband.) Of course, there was always the default Bible study for people that didn't qualify for the married or mothers studies, but even that stung. I remember crying over my period-- I know it's no where near the pain of trying and being unable to conceive-- but it was just another reminder that I was alone.

Having said all that, now I'm 30. And just when I thought I could have learned all I could from Hannah, I had to give a child back to the Lord. It's been so hard, so much more than I could ever have imagined. So many things in your book that people say and that I feel coincide.

I'm so very grateful that you have written this book. I will be recommending the crud out of it. It's just amazing how God can really trade beauty for ashes... Thank you for being so willing to share.
God bless you!

(c) Copyright Shauna Bowman, 2005

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