The Cup I Never Wanted
This past Sunday, our church finished a series through the latter half of Genesis titled, "God Meant It for Good".
I'd been present for the majority of these sermons, detailing the life and struggles of Joseph as he's sold into slavery by his brothers, wrongly imprisoned and then put into a place of power of the land of Egypt. I took notes and followed along in the Scriptures as our pastor led us through each lesson, reminding us with points and examples that the Lord is always in control. That His plans always come to fruition. That we can trust that He works everything together for His honor and our ultimate good.
I felt the Spirit tugging at my heartstrings during a majority of these lessons. I was brought to tears on multiple occasions as we worshipped in song and proclaimed faith in God and His sovereignty. And I could feel the nudge and prod as I was faced with the reality that I didn't truly believe God could mean all things for good.
Vaginismus, as I've mulled it over in my head, is no longer a difficult thing for me to wrestle with. I can see how God has sanctified me and molded me through our struggles with sex and physical intimacy. I can see how he has used our story to reach other people and promote conversation. In my mind, there are numerous moments over the past two years that I can point to and say, "Okay, fine. That ended up working out pretty well." or, "Wow, I guess we wouldn't have learned that any other way." Not to say that it's no longer a struggle or a heartache, but it's somehow easier to stomach knowing that significant progress has been made (booking New York) and that people have been reached (via the blog).
So when our Pastor ended the sermon by asking each of us to take a cup and write on it a struggle, a circumstance or a relationship, that we wish wasn't part of our story, and then fill it with water and pour it out in a representation of surrendering it to God and His ultimate purposes, I found my heart trying to hide from the conviction that was settling around me like a blanket.
What have you not surrendered, Jamie? What don't you believe I can use for my glory and your ultimate good?
My mind spoke the word as my hands tightened around my knees. I stood up and made my way towards the table, where a plastic orange cup and a sharpie pen waiting for me, beckoning me to spell out the thing I couldn't seem to let go of. I felt the tears rushing to my eyes as my hand scrawled out the letters. Dipping the cup in the water, I filled it to the brim. It was heavy. It splashed on my hand, nearly overflowing. It was a cup full of bitterness and anger that I felt the weight of. Walking towards the little pool that we were directed to pour our cups into, I found myself pouring the contents with a sort of half-hearted, lukewarm sort of conviction. Like my head knew what I was doing but my heart couldn't fully commit.
The walk back to my seat felt long. My cheeks were hot as I quickly glued myself back to the chair. I heard the worship band play and I knew that we were being given time to come before the Lord in prayer. I turned over my cup and stared at what I'd written, flushed with unexpected grief and anger. The word "infertility" stared back at me, permanently etched onto the surface of a now empty cup. I bit my lip and screwed my eyes shut, unable to even verbalize the longings of my heart.
I don't know how long I sat before I felt someone sit down on my left. Almost immediately, a hand found mine and I found myself choking back a new wave of tears. This dear, dear friend of mine sat and wept with me as we struggled to reconcile and let go of the things we'd written on our cups. For my friend, it was the loss of her sweet baby through a miscarriage. And as we sat and held each other's hands and cried, each knowing the story behind the word on the other's cup, I found myself crying out to God for understanding. How do we let go of this, Lord? How can we surrender something we want so badly, something that's a good and pure thing to want?
I think I knew the answer before my heart felt it sink in.
You've tried before, countless times, with distractions and bigger, "better" things. You've tried to let go with one hand while still keeping the other locked in an unbreakable grip. You've tried to talk yourself out of wanting it only to come crashing down at the first word of it being given to someone else.
But You've never just knelt and asked for help.
It was in that moment that I was faced with a reality I'd been avoiding all along: I don't have the strength or willpower to let go of my desire for a baby. On my own, I only had the power to distract and bury. And part of me knew that if I asked the Lord for help, He would come through, and He would ask me to surrender my desire whole-heartedly.
As I sat and fought against what I knew was true and what I wanted to believe was true, our worship team began singing the bridge of the song "This We Know":
We trust You, we trust You Your ways are higher than our own We trust You, we trust You Your ways are higher than our own We trust You, we trust You Your ways are higher than our own We trust You In all things we trust You Your ways are mightier than our own.
It's a hard and gut wrenching thing to "pour out" my cup of infertility into the Lord's hands, knowing that He may fulfill those desires, or He may not. But as I sat and listened to the worship song, I did the only thing I had left to do: I asked the Lord to help me. I asked Him to show me how to let go, and how to let go fully. I asked Him to show me how He was still good even if my dreams of motherhood were never realized. I asked Him to forgive me for the anger and bitterness and jealousy I'd been holding onto.
I brought my cup home with me. I set it next to my Bible and a post-it note of prayer requests. I want it to serve as a reminder to me of the things that I'm trying to release into God's hands. Every time I sit at my desk, I want to find myself reacquainted with the words of Jesus: "Father, if You are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but Yours be done." (Luke 22:42)