An Empty Cradle
Pedaling backward on my tricycle at 4 years old, I decided that when I grew up, I wanted to be a global working wife and mother, just like my mom. Today, I am a happy wife to a wonderful global worker… but after more than 8 years, I’m still not a mom.
According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, 6.1 million people in the U.S. are affected by infertility. Certainly infertility affects global workers, too, even though we don’t hear much about it. When we asked our organization about medical insurance covering infertility testing, they admitted that we were the first people to ever ask about that. Historically, infertility was an issue that was kept personal and private. My generation and my host country, however, talk about this kind of thing. They ask us questions and make comments about it. It is impossible for me to ignore or hide our empty cradle.
Coming to grips with infertility is very difficult. I have drifted through so many emotions – from denial to hope to frustration to hope to anger to hope to sadness to hope to acceptance… I have prayed and cried and prayed and pleaded and prayed and said “nevetheless not my will…”. For me, infertility has meant grieving the death of a life long dream. No matter what continent you live on or what your station in life, infertility is very painful.
Global workers, however, have to deal with a few extra hurdles in infertility: we are thrust into the world of complicated medical terminology in a different language, we are asked pointed questions by perfect strangers (my host culture thinks nothing of asking a new acquaintance what kind of birth control she is using), we learn first-hand how different cultures grieve (not usually our way), and we are reminded by well-meaning friends back home that “God knows what is best” and our childless state is probably best for the Lord’s work. Global workers are public people who are used to their personal lives being publicly commented on. For us, infertility takes on a different dimension.
If anyone reading this is struggling with infertility, I want you to know that you aren’t alone. There are others of us out here who know exactly how you are feeling and understand the unique issues you are working through.
I want to remind you that God really cares about you. He knows your secret thoughts and feels your heart’s yearnings. You matter to Him. “Thou hast… put my tears in thy bottle….” Psalm 56.
While we are confident that God wants to be our comfort, we can also be assured that He wants to use this seemingly unfortunate situation to bring honor and glory to Himself. We who have empty cradles get to experience His grace in a new way each month. We get to practice our trust in His goodness when circumstances lead us to doubt it. We get to feel the fire of refinement in our lives and learn how to have peace when life isn’t going as we had hoped it would. We learn how to smile and overlook insensitive remarks. We come to understand that we would never know how to relate to another hurting person if we didn’t have to go through pain ourselves. Infertility humbles us and points us back to Jesus as our fulfillment and joy. We get opportunities to witness and give spiritual encouragement to others who are sad or disappointed in life. God can make something beautiful out of our sense of loss. He can turn our empty cradles into the base of a deeper, fruitful life.
Karen Seager and her husband Kevin are church planting global workers in southern Spain. They are presently in the process of an international adoption. Karen would love to hear from you! She can be reached at [email protected]