Last year at the MOPS Convention in Nashville, I was in horrible pain. For months, I had been waiting for my uterine prolapse to correct itself, as my doctor and I hoped it would; but my pain was getting worse, not better. After sitting and standing so much at the convention, I called home sobbing on Friday evening to ask my husband to pray for me. Compounding the physical pain was the heartache of knowing that if my prolapse continued as it was, I would need to have a hysterectomy.
My uterine prolapse actually began after my fourth child was born. Because I did not experience any pain or discomfort and because my doctor knew I welcomed more children, he and I agreed not to intervene. God blessed us with two more baby boys; and after Griffin, our sixth, was born, the prolapse finally worsened. He was born in October of 2005 and by January of 2006, I still felt discomfort and pain and visited my doctor, explaining that I just didn’t feel normal. He confirmed that the prolapse was worse but expressed hope that, as my hormones returned to normal, my body would heal itself. I prayed that God would heal this problem so we could have more children.
In the early spring, my pain had lessened and I thought I was on the way back to normal. As Griffin weaned himself, my hormones returned to normal, and I felt stronger. I played soccer in the yard with the children and jumped on the trampoline. I stood throughout the day, doing all my usual chores without having to lie down to fight gravity. I believed God had answered my prayers with an amazing YES, and I was thrilled.
Then in mid-August, my pain returned and rapidly began to worsen. Standing for a few hours required an hour or more of lying down to recover. Running and playing with the children was painful. Jumping on the trampoline was out of the question. Every day, by early evening, I was wishing for one of those exercise machines from the 80’s that you strap yourself into and spin upside down to hang.
By the time I traveled to the MOPS Convention late last September, I had visited my doctor who explained my limited list of choices. I could use a form of birth control I believe is abortifacient and would displease God; I could continue to live in pain; or I could have a hysterectomy. These were the thoughts in my mind as I wept in pain at the MOPS Convention last year. My abdomen and pelvic floor cramped and seared with tremendous pain, and my heart broke knowing the only way to end my physical pain was to accept that our family was complete. All around me at the convention were pregnant moms and nursing moms, and at the core of my being, I knew that would never again be me. I grieved.
In the midst of my tears, my sweet friend Shannon spoke this simple sentence, “He has never let you down.” That truth wrapped itself around my heart and brought me comfort in the coming months. As I grieved and mourned the loss of my dreams for my family, Shannon’s words reverberated through my soul. My Father had never let me down before, and He would not let me down in this.
In the few months following the convention, many of my prayers were full-fledged temper tantrums. Broken, I sobbed and, spiritually, threw myself on the floor kicking and screaming. I hated the finality of a hysterectomy. The absolute closed door. I wept because I would never feel a baby kick inside me again, never anticipate an ultrasound or wonder what our baby would look like, never feel the beautiful pain of delivering a baby and holding a seconds-old infant in my arms. I wept because I would never nuzzle my very own newborn against my neck, never feel that amazing surge of love for the very first time. I wept because my plans were changing and the dreams I believed God had given me were being turned upside-down. I had wanted God to be in control of our family size, but I had assumed that meant our family would be very large, babies coming in alternating springs and falls until I reached menopause. Through it all, my loving, patient Father proved Himself big enough to handle my tantrums and to gently love me through them.
In January, I had the hysterectomy. During that time, God sent friends and family to encourage me and help me and love me. Physically and emotionally, I was weak. God worked through His people to hold me up and restore my strength. Gradually, He began to heal me. Honestly, that healing is still ongoing, but God has done a great work. I was reminded of that this past weekend at the MOPS Convention.
As I rode to Florida, my thoughts returned to last year’s convention and all the physical and emotional pain I was in the middle of. As we sat in the first General Session, I sang “Blessed Be Your Name” and my heart was full at the truth of those words.
And blessed be Your name when I’m found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed be Your name . . .
And blessed be Your name on the road marked with suffering
Though there’s pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name . . .
You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name
With every bit of myself, I meant every word I sang. After the tearing down and rebuilding of my dreams and plans, after experiencing the giving and the taking away, I do choose to say blessed be His name.
After that first General Session, I walked down to browse at the MOPShop where all the exhibitors and retailers were set up. I passed a table of jewelry inspired by scripture and barely glanced at it. Because I didn’t quite have my bearings and my sense of direction isn’t all that perfect, I passed that table of jewelry a couple more times and finally glanced down to see large wooden signs with scripture stenciled on. The first sign I noticed was a large, square sign with this verse:
These are the children God has given me. God has been good to me. — Genesis 33:5
Tears filled my eyes as I read the sign again. I knew I had to buy that sign. I imagined it on my wall surrounded by individual pictures of each of my children, reminding me always that these six are the children God has given me and that He has been very good to me. This is the family He designed for us, and I am grateful for His goodness.
Of course, I bought the sign. I think it was the only sign they had with that verse written on it. I believe God sent that sign to the convention for me. I believe He sent it as a form of closure, as a reassurance of His sovereignty, and as a reminder, like Shannon said, of how He has never let me down. My Father has proven Himself a steadfast presence and an immovable power in the past year. He has remained the Lord whose name is to be blessed. He has been good to me.