I started dance classes at the geriatric age of 10. That’s even older now then it was then. We moved from Montgomery to Birmingham the summer before I turned ten and I went from an average kid in one city to the weird new girl in the other. In Montgomery, I wore Lee jeans and a yellow jacket and spent Saturday mornings as a cheerleader for the pee wee football team. But in Birmingham, I learned Lee jeans and yellow jackets and pee wee football cheerleaders were so very not cool.
And that was just the beginning of my very not cool life.
So I did what the other girls at my new school were doing. Begged for new jeans and signed up for dance classes.
This is the point where Heather became a staple in my life as we took the same dance class, jazzing our way through dances to “Ice, Ice Baby.”
What Heather had (and still has) that I did not (other than a gorgeous tan and a house covered in Laura Ashley florals) was her flexibility. I spent hours and hours working to gain just an inch more in my splits or to get my fan kick a smidge higher. To this day, Heather maintains her flexibility. I get stiff sitting criss-cross applesauce on the floor.
For years through middle school and high school, I spent nights after a hot bath stretching, trying to eek out as much as my tight muscles would give me. Which was not much. Other members of the dance team had zero problems in the limberness category. They could do a split check totally cold. I, on the other hand, managed to snap my right hamstring after one of those split checks.
Splits, learning how to jump rope, figuring out a stick-shift car on the foothills of the Smokey Mountains, an English degree my high school AP teacher advised me against, I had to work really, really hard to gain even a slim hint of proficiency. But once I put in the time and the effort and the work, I found an appreciation for what I could do. I still swoon over the thought of driving a straight-shift car and I did soar through my degree, with the exception of Southern Lit because William Faulkner and the 8 am class start time was just too much.
Our lives are filled with these little accomplishments. Those giants we have to figure out how to slay when we mostly only have small stones and a handmade slingshot as weapons. We set a goal, doggedly pursue that goal, and sometimes, we hit the mark and celebrate. Occasionally, we fly past the goal or fall just short but the battle was worth the effort.
So when my life, with all of my accomplished goals and old-fashioned grit, met something I could not overcome with the efforts of my own hands, things became titled, off, unnerving.
For most infertility patients, they meet an obstacle for which there is not a single thing they can do. Our hormones are too much or too little, our endometriosis can’t be healed with a pill, the age of our ovaries and egg supply cannot get a facelift to look ten years younger, our scared tubes cannot be freshened up with a laser, sperm doesn’t suddenly move better or faster or multiply in number with a protein drink, our unexplained reasons don’t miraculously become explained when we get that third and fourth opinion.
We are at the mercy of forces we cannot control and we cannot tame and we cannot change.
That little girl who spent hours stretching her muscles to achieve a goal can do nothing in her own power to have a baby.
And at that realization, at that moment when we come to the end of ourselves, when we know without a doubt we have nothing to offer, no solution, no medication, no exercise program available to us, that realization changes everything.
For those of us who know Jesus, who have read His true words, who have memorized hymns and bible stories, we start to ask questions. In our legalism, we want to punish ourselves, we want to confess anything and everything, we want to put our last two coins in the offering plate, reach out and touch His coat, meet Him at the well. And we do so much of the exact same things we have always done to reach a goal. We strive. We work. We look for the answer.
When really, the answer isn’t in our striving or in our working or in our research.
The answer is rest.
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” ~Matthew 11:28 (KJV)
The Message says this…
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. Learn to live freely and lightly.
There are no answers in our trying, in giving it our best, in making my harder better than your harder.
And if for no other reason, I am grateful to infertility for that lesson.
Jesus taught me how to recover my life. How to find real, true, fulfilling rest. How to watch His rest, how He took time for prayer, for thanksgiving, for worship, how even when His disciples thought He was on the wrong path, He was always at the exact right moment to do His Father’s work. Infertility became not heavy or ill-fitting. Instead, it became a joy, a privilege, a part of me that fit perfectly, placed in my life by a sinless Redeemer who needed to show me Himself.
I will give you rest? So much yes. So much surrender to that truth. So much Good and Love and Mercy and Grace and Joy. Because HE is all of that and in Him, I am rested and well.
I am grateful that little ten-year-old girl began dancing. Grateful she took that path. Dancing taught her the rewards of hard work, the importance of practice, the joy of accomplishment.
But I am so much more grateful for infertility. The path I would never have chosen on my own. Not a team I would have tried out for or signed up to join or even sought to befriend. Instead, I got drafted, invited, accepted into the journey and Jesus changed everything in me through it.
In Him, I traded in my dance shoes and the striving and the old fashion grit for my bare feet and sitting at His throne and resting in His promises.
And I gained everything.
What are you striving to heal? What are you seeking to cure? Where are you researching yourself to death and finding no answers?
Are you willing to give Jesus and His promise of life through His rest a try? Are you ready to trade everything you know how to do for the one thing Jesus asks you to do?