Christianity, Infertility

Haiku Sunday : Wings Unexhausted.

“Soaring with the storm.

Wings unexhausted. Softly.

The beauty of flight.”

I know. It’s not my best haiku ever.

I was walking with my husband to the movie theater last weekend, and we happened to see a little girl and her mother feeding a flock of birds. These birds were everywhere and in very large numbers, so I just had to get a picture of them. In the theater, as we were waiting for the movie to begin, I started uploading some of my bird pictures to Instagram and wanted to think of a haiku to go with one of them. I thought for a few minutes about what the bird pictures meant to me – aside from being random pictures that I took while walking to the movies – and as I scrolled through the pictures I’d taken, I was reminded of a sermon that I’d heard as a child.

The sermon, as I remember it,  was based on Isaiah 40:31. This verse says that “Those who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength. They will mount up with wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and will not faint.” The minister who gave the sermon was emphasizing the point that when eagles fly through harsh winds or storms, they do not tire themselves out by flapping their wings incessantly. Instead, they soar. They get up into the air, spread their wings out, and allow the wind to take them the rest of the way. The minister was trying to encourage us to have that kind of trust in God. Instead of exhausting ourselves by constantly trying to make our lives fit into our own agendas, we should learn to “spread out our wings” (relinquish our need to control and manipulate life), and allow the “wind” (God) to take us on the journey. In doing this, we find more beauty and meaning in our lives – because we allow the one who gave us our lives to also direct it.

One of the things that I am learning, through infertility, is how to “wait upon the Lord” and “soar with the storm.” I am quite an indifferent person, and have never really wanted anything very badly in my life. I’m easy-going and easy to please, and I have often mistaken my indifference for patience, peace, or acceptance. In the times where I have been denied a want or desirable outcome, I was able to get over it fairly quickly (within minutes!). The truth is, I’ve never wanted anything badly enough to really become frustrated when it was denied me. Furthermore, the few things that I have wanted in my life have been within my ability to obtain.

Infertility is the first time that I am facing a situation where I can’t have something that I really want, and I can’t control when – or even if – I’ll get it.

And I’ll be honest, I hate infertility. With a passion. But I can also see the beauty in what it is teaching me. I can see how God is using it to make me a better person – more compassionate, more transparent, more trusting, and with more respect for the gift and the Giver of life. The longer I struggle with infertility, the better I am getting at simply spreading my wings and allowing the wind to take me where it will. I am getting better at waiting on the Lord. And for that, I am grateful.

No matter what your struggle is, use it as an opportunity to learn how to have true patience. Use it as an opportunity to become more compassionate and sensitive to the silent struggles of others. Use it to find beauty and meaning in the life lessons that your struggle will inevitably bring – the life lessons that will equip you for potentially harder times in the future. Most of all, use it to learn how to wait upon the Lord. He knows what He is doing.

Soar with the storm.

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Christianity, General, Religion

More Than Gritting My Teeth.

One of my friends wrote a good blog entry about patience that ended with the question, “How do you keep your patient loving heart when it is being tested?” I didn’t want to answer in her comment section because I think my answer would be too long. However, I have also been having a lot of thoughts about patience lately.

As a follower of Christ, I would obviously look first to the Bible for answers about how to keep a patient and loving heart in the middle of a trying situation. The Bible talks about many different types of patience. There is the kind of patience you need when you are waiting on God to reveal Himself or His will for a certain situation ( James 5:7-8, Psalm 37:7-9). There is the kind of patience you need when you are dealing with people or situations that get on your nerves (James 1:19-20, 1 Thessalonians 5:14, Ephesians 4:1-2). And, there is the type of patience that you need when you feel like you are working hard and honestly with no return (Galatians 6:9, Isaiah 40:31, Psalm 46:10). These are all very good scriptures to contemplate both as stand-alone verses and within the context of which they were written.

These scriptures tell me that I need to be patient and wait on the Lord, but (with the exception of James 1:19-20) they do not tell me how to be patient and wait on the Lord. And that is where I sometimes look for elaboration from other sources of spiritual instruction.

I’ve posted this quote on my blog before, but I think it is worth repeating:

“Patience is a mind that is able to accept, fully and happily, whatever occurs. It is much more than just gritting our teeth and putting up with things. Being patient means to welcome wholeheartedly whatever arises, having given up the idea that things should be other than what they are. It is always possible to be patient, there is no situation so bad that it cannot be accepted patiently, with an open, accommodating, and peaceful heart.”  – Geshe Kelsang Gyatso

Buddhism teaches (and I am speaking generally, because Buddhism is a very large school of thought with many different ideas) that patience is cultivated by learning to accept things as they are. When I feel impatient about the fact that I have still not finished school, for example,  it is because I am expecting that I should have been finished by now. I am expecting that things should have gone differently. But should they have? Instead of focusing on how I – in my limited knowledge of the universe – think things should have been, Buddhism teaches me to humble myself and realize that perhaps things are exactly what they are supposed to be at this moment.  And not only should I accept that things are what they are – but I should do so cheerfully and gratefully!

In response to my friend’s question about keeping a patient, loving heart – my answer would be that I first pray that God will create patience within me. If He doesn’t do that, then there’s nothing I can do on my own to stir up patience within myself. After I pray, I contemplate and employ the principle of fully accepting what is. Eventually, patience will be something that will occur naturally without my having to be so intentional about it.

Patience is about embracing the roller-coaster that is life. Not resentfully tolerating it.

 

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Patience is a m…

Patience is a mind that is able to accept, fully and happily, whatever occurs. It is much more than just gritting our teeth and putting up with things. Being patient means to welcome wholeheartedly whatever arises, having given up the idea that things should be other than what they are. It is always possible to be patient; there is no situation so bad that it cannot be accepted patiently, with an open, accommodating, and peaceful heart.

This quote comes from the Buddhist monk, Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, in his book ‘How to Solve Our Human Problems.’ I first heard this quote nearly a year ago and have tried to live by it ever since hearing it. And of course, I don’t always succeed. The Buddhist principle of letting go of what we want and accepting what comes is a hard one to follow! I’ve always been a patient person when it comes to others, but never as patient regarding myself. I have prayed to have the type of patience that this quote describes, and it seems that God is giving me an opportunity to cultivate this mindset!

As I mentioned in my last post, my husband and I have been planning a move! We found the perfect place and just when it seemed that everything would go smoothly, we started running into a lot of ‘bumps in the road.’ The first bump had to do with the fact that they suddenly wanted more money than they’d originally asked. We did some negotiating and came up with a number that made everyone happy. During the negotiating time, I was so worried that things wouldn’t work out and we wouldn’t get to move into this place. Our current living circumstances – although I’m grateful for them – are way less than ideal and I have been itching to move for over a year. To get so excited, only to be let down was irritating, to say the least. Especially since I’d already experienced this excitement/let-down only a few weeks earlier when I thought (mistakenly) that I was pregnant.

When we were finally able to confirm that we could move in to this new place, I was happy and excited again. Still, though, I had a feeling that something else would go wrong. And I wasn’t sure if I only felt that way out of caution or because of my sometimes-keen instincts.

I had a dream that my husband would get into a car accident and lose his job as a result. And two weeks later, that’s exactly what happened.

Hopefully, he will find something before moving day (which is in three weeks)!! Just before he lost the job, we had been hearing sermons in church that dealt with not worrying and trusting God – certainly those were messages for us! But this situation is also stretching my patience, my ability to ‘welcome wholeheartedly whatever arises,’ and give up ‘the idea that things should be other than what they are.’

I’ll obviously be sad if we can’t move to this perfect place that we worked so hard to keep. But we have sought God in every decision we’ve made, and so He is guiding us. Perhaps what we think is perfect for us is not actually what He wants us to have. Maybe there’s something better.