Friday, August 31, 2007

2 Hearts Beating As 1...Sometimes

On the Hannah's Prayer Community Forums I am posting monthly devotionals based on various chapters of Hannah's Hope. Here's the 7th in this series.

The following is copyrighted material and has been adapted from "Two Hearts Beating As One...Sometimes," chapter seven of Hannah's Hope: Seeking God's Heart in the Midst of Infertility, Miscarriage, & Adoption Loss by Jennifer Saake, NavPress, 2005. Please do not duplicate without permission. You may read a portion of this book here.

Elkanah her husband would say to her, "Hannah, why are you weeping? Why don't you eat? Why are you downhearted? Don't I mean more to you than ten sons?" - 1 Samuel 1:8 (NIV)

Unlike my husband, I found that infertility defined me. Someone would ask, "What do you do?" and Rick would answer with a description about his job, while I hoped no one would aim the same question my direction. "Stay-at-home-mom" was a socially acceptable answer. "Stay-at-home non-mom" never went over as well...
Infertility can feel like being caught in a burning house. The two of you run in different directions, tripping into and over each other, trying to escape the terror. As the suffocating heat closes around you, part of the panic comes from the lack of assurance that you are still together in this darkness.

While their barrenness was beyond the control of either Elkanah or Hannah, God ordained Elkanah to guide his family through the process. The apostle Paul give this admonition: "Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything" (Eph. 5:22-24).

I know submission can be an unsettling concept. Since sin first entered the world with Adam and Eve, it's been hard for women to let men lead. As a direct result of our sin nature, we have an impulsive drive to run the show. While my desires often conflict with Rick's God set him in authority over our family... When my doctor presents a medical course that offers me hope, it is hard to hold back when Rick gives a flat-out no, or even when he wants to just take time to prayerfully seek more answers. But my marriage vows are to my husband, not to my doctor or anyone else!

Does this mean that my husband's decisions are always the "correct" ones? Not necessarily. But I am called to trust God by allowing my husband to lead me, even in the face of his very human fallibility. I challenge you to allow your husband to take the leadership role in your fertility journey. In the struggle to "have a family," it can be so easy to forget that as husband and wife we already are a family. It is important never to lose sight of this fact. While the desperation might make it feel otherwise, our marriage relationships truly must remain higher priorities than having babies.

Thoughts to Ponder:
What most attracted you to your spouse in the beginning? Why did you marry? What do you most desire about your partner? What joint activities bring you the most shared pleasure? If these answers don't readily spring to mind, it has been too long since you shared a common heartbeat. Sit down and list your answers on paper, then pursue ways to add to your list of joys together.

For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham... You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear - 1 Peter 3:5-6 (NIV)

Dear Lord,
Thank you for the man you have given me to share my life with. While there are times I just feel like he doesn't "get it" or can't understand my depth of grief, thank you for the checks and balances of emotions and rational thinking between us. Thank you that even though he is not perfect (nor am I!) I can trust you to guide us through him when I step aside and allow him to lead. Thank you for the times I can lean on his strength to take the next step in our journey and his sanity to hold back when I might blindly rush ahead of your plan.

Help me to remember to keep our marriage a priority when this baby quest becomes too all-consuming. And thank you for your grace to bring our hearts back together at seasons we seem far apart. For my sisters without their husbands, due to divorce, widowhood, emotional/spiritual disconnection, or even separations such as military deployment, I pray your extra strength, comfort and grace upon their hearts tonight. You promise to be a father to the fatherless and a husband to women alone. Please be all of that to my hurting friends tonight.

And daily, Lord, please be preparing me more and more to be your Bride, ready to stand before you, spotless and blameless because of the blood of your Son, in whose name we pray, Amen!

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