Date: 3rd September 2018
Ever felt the bitter taste of regret? The What-ifs? If onlys?
I want to share a little of my story … below is a chapter from my book I am Deborah.
In the midst of facing my regrets and if onlys I discovered God’s healing power, and it restored my soul and brought joy into my life.
May you be blessed as you read a tiny part of my story, and if you want to purchase the book it is available here on my website either as an ebook from Amazon, or a soft cover which can be posted to you from me directly.
During the first three years of my ‘re-birth,’ God had been graciously teaching me to grow in a deeper relationship with Him. He showed me that if I wanted to know Him more then I had to obey Him completely, and to respond to His voice in faith and trust. However there remained one area of my life that had caused the most pain; my desire to be loved, to marry, and to have children.
I had only ever had two relationships, both were disastrous. Now that I had begun to find love and, more importantly, to give love, I really wanted to share my life with someone who had the same passion and commitment for Jesus as me. Very early in my new relationship with God I had determined to trust Him completely in this area. Actually I prayed that God would be like the fathers in the Old Testament and choose a husband for me. I asked Him not to allow me to even date! I was so determined that I would not repeat the cycle of despair again. By now I didn’t trust myself with men, and the only answer was to completely trust God to lead me.
There was, however, one nagging thought that continued to raise its ugly head. Maybe I was to remain single all my life? As a child I had considered becoming a nun and serving God. When I grew up I was determined not to marry until I was much older. It wasn’t until I began my relationship with the man in Australia that I seriously considered marriage. You’ll recall how that turned out!
So here I was, 39 years old and single. My desire for children was becoming more intense as my age increased. However, in the four years since recommitting my life back to God, I had not met ONE eligible male. I began to wonder if I was being punished! I knew that God loved me but somehow I was convinced that He was withholding marriage because I didn’t deserve it. It may sound strange, but I have since spoken to many women who fall into this trap of misbelief. We believe that we are being punished because we see ourselves as not worthy to accept good things from God, whether it be children, or husbands, or careers. I prayed that I only wanted His will, though all the time aching over the possibility that marriage and children would be denied me. I didn’t recognise the connection between my past shame and my present circumstances.
While I was in Tanzania I’d had an experience that profoundly affected my understanding of what it meant to be single. I was lying on my bed, under the obligatory mosquito net, talking to Jesus. I was speaking to Him about my fear of never marrying. Although I wanted marriage I was willing to be single if that is what He truly wanted. I wept as I told Him that although I loved Him so much I needed to have a tangible love relationship. In short I told Him, “Lord I love You, but You are not enough. if I’m to remain single I need more of You than I’m presently experiencing.” I wept as I gave over my desire for marriage and surrendered to His will. Whatever that might be. As I lay there I had a most wonderful experience; it was as though I was the only woman in the world and I was being gazed upon by Jesus. I saw His eyes, full of love and the deepest compassion, gazing upon me. In that moment I was completely enveloped in love. It was an intensely intimate experience that filled my soul with peace and joy.
When I returned home to New Zealand the memory of that moment stayed with me. It was as though Jesus was saying, “I’m enough, you just don’t realise it yet.” I continued to study and in the September I celebrated my 40th birthday. By the October I was sitting my final exams and began to wonder what next year would bring. I needed to go to the doctor for a general ‘women’s’ check. Although everything was fine I’d put the appointment off several times, but by October the doctor’s nurse was quite adamant that I should come in. So in I went.
During the course of the examination the doctor noticed that my uterus was enlarged, actually it was the size of an 18 week gestation. He immediately sent me off to have tests. The next day I was in hospital having an ultrasound. The results were to show that I had eight fibroids in my uterus. They had developed very quickly and there was some concern that they may be pre-cancerous. I was sent off to the specialist and he confirmed that there was a serious question as to their status. I was told that there was no successful treatment for cancer of the uterus. The only sure way to guarantee that there was no risk of developing cancer was to have a hysterectomy. I was numb as I walked out of the specialist’s office. My mum was waiting for me and as I sat down and looked into her anxious face I burst into tears.
I had to make a decision within the week as to what I should do. As I sought God I ‘knew’ I would lose my uterus. I read every book I could find on the subject and when I went back to see the specialist we discussed the various options. It was decided to go ahead with the surgery, which I would have in two weeks’ time. I still had two exams to sit, but received an aggregate for both. I was in deep grief. I had hoped and longed for a loving man to come into my life and for both of us to have a child. I was faced with the reality that I would never experience that joy.
The two weeks leading up to the surgery passed quickly and I came out of the whole ordeal very well. I decided to spend Christmas with my cousin in New Plymouth, which was just on six weeks since the surgery, and I was only cleared to fly the day before Christmas Eve. I needed to be away from everything, and my cousin and her husband were wonderful, just the right mix of laughter and weeping. It was not until I returned home in early January that I really began to deal with the grief.
During this time I had all but shut God out. Not that I had turned my back on Him, or even blamed Him. It was just too painful to expose my heart to Him. Also I was supposed to be a ‘woman of faith,’ so I felt that I should be able to get on with life and deal with what had been ‘dished up to me.’ I wanted to be strong and make God proud of me. I had enough faith to know that He didn’t ‘do this to me!’ For several weeks I strived to be courageous and deal with the grief in my heart. Every night I would pray, but it was as though I had separated myself from God. Over the years I had often visualised myself in the Garden of Gethsemane with Jesus, sitting at His feet while He spoke into my heart. Now I was standing apart from Him and refusing to come closer. This went on for about three weeks until the pain of separation from the love of my life was stronger than the pain in my heart over the loss of my hopes and dreams.
As I stood and looked at Jesus He spoke so gently to me, “Deborah come close, for I can heal your pain, I know how you feel.” In that moment I knew Jesus alone knew how I felt! He had created me, He is the author and giver of life, He knows me better than I know myself. I began to weep and said, “Lord, if I come close I will feel and I don’t think I could stand to truly feel the pain that’s inside me. I want to be strong and have the faith to overcome this pain.” Then in a love that only Jesus can give He showed me a picture: a little helpless lamb was standing all alone on the knoll of a hill. It had been raining and the lamb was wet and shivering in the cold. It looked so pathetic! Jesus said, “Deborah, that’s you.” Then He came and picked the lamb up and put it close to His heart and said, “Your strength is in knowing how weak you are, and letting Me be your strength.” I wanted to be in those arms and feel that love and strength more than anything. I wept and asked Him to comfort me as only He could. The healing began in earnest that night.
It was to take several months before I truly knew what it was to be healed and whole. My friend Alice was having a baby and was due in April, and in the meantime another friend had just given birth. It was the end of February. Alice and I decided to go and see her in the hospital. I could only stay for a few minutes; seeing that little baby wrapped in her mother’s arms, and her husband beaming from ear to ear was unbearable. I excused myself and went outside. I wept and wept. I thought I would never be able to look at a baby and not feel deprived. Alice was so wonderful she said, “Deb, if you can’t come and see me in the hospital when the baby comes I’ll understand.” I just cried and hugged her.
Jesus quoted Isaiah 61 when He proclaimed Himself as the Christ (Luke 4:18), saying that God had anointed Him “… to comfort all who mourn … to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning” (Isaiah 61:2b, 3). I had no concept of the possibility of joy and gladness, let alone praise in regard to being able to love and delight in babies. Still, God is God, and He says that if we trust Him and surrender ourselves to Him, He will heal us. I continued to grieve, not only for the loss of never having a baby, I also needed to release the guilt of all the years that I had wasted. Through those days of grief I saw my life, and all the lost potential, as sand falling through my fingers. For over 20 years I had gone my own way, and now I was hit with the reality that my rebellion had cost me dearly.
With every new revelation of the depth and cost of sin in my life came the reality of God’s love and His grace being poured into my hurting soul. I knew a new depth of love and relationship with Jesus that until then I couldn’t have imagined or hoped for. I began to live in a state of faith and grace that transformed me. I saw hope and strength in place of sadness and despair. My praise and worship began to reach new levels, and my spirit soared as I grew deeper and deeper in love with my God.
Finally Alice delivered a precious little girl and I felt strong enough to go and see her. As I held the tiny life in my arms I wept. Looking at that beautiful little girl everything within me delighted in her, but at the same time I was truly glad the baby wasn’t mine. The miracle had happened; my hope and joy was focused in a new direction. In those three months of allowing the Holy Spirit to heal my broken heart resurrection life had emerged. I love babies, and children, with such delight. I hold nothing of myself back. I am free to weep in delight at the miracle of new birth, but more importantly I am FREE to love. When God heals, He heals perfectly. I can honestly say that I am now thankful that I don’t have children, for my life is full, and nothing is held back.
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