Endometriosis

The Control Factor

MP900321091There is comfort in control.

It is common for victims of assault to comfort themselves with illusions of control. For example, women who have been beaten or raped often find blame in themselves for the crime that was committed against them, because, as long as they are somehow at fault – as long as they are not truly victims of some terrible atrocity outside of their own control – then there is something they can do to keep it from happening again.

We comfort ourselves with illusions of control, as well. As long as there is something we can do to get pregnant – some dietary change or surgical procedure or herbal cocktail or adoption agency we can utilize to give ourselves the gift of a child – then we are not really barren. Don’t get me wrong. I am thankful for all of the healthy foods, vitamin supplements, doctors, procedures, and foster care training I have utilized over the years, for they have offered me physical relief and instructed me in how to better care for my neighbor; however, none of these things have given me control over my parental status.

If we could really control our barrenness, don’t you think all of us would be parents, already?

Seeking control of our fertility is a chasing after the wind. Children, birthed or adopted, are a heritage from the LORD, a gift from Him to receive. Turn back to your Father in heaven and ask Him to give you all good things according to His will. Then, rejoice, for He is wise in His giving.

 

Is procreation an intrinsic quality of marriage?

Portrait of a young boy crossing guard standing on the road holding a stop signQuestion Submitted: At a recent theological symposium, I posited that we in the Church need “to return to teaching properly about the positive locus of marriage – teaching about its procreative purpose and nature.” Another attendee replied in part that “procreation is NOT an intrinsic quality of marriage, as we do not say the infertile are not married.” If I had had a chance for rebuttal, I would have pointed out the error of his logic. Bipedalism is an intrinsic quality of humans, despite the sad reality of paraplegia. It would be very helpful to hear how you would counter the idea that infertility invalidates the argument that procreation is an intrinsic quality of marriage. I have my own answers to this false argument, but I would like to make sure I have an answer that is sensitive to the minds of those who suffer from infertility.

My pastors taught me that God institutes and defines marriage in Genesis Chapters 1 and 2. We learn in verses 1:27-28 that God created man in His own image; male and female He created them, and He blessed them. He told them to be fruitful and multiply, and God saw that “it was very good” (Gen 1:31).

The gift of procreation is not only a blessing God speaks over marriage, but God sees the blessing of children as good.

Barrenness is not good. Barrenness is a brokenness of God’s good creation. Endometriosis, PCOS, fibroids, hashimoto’s thyroiditis, low sperm motility, ovarian and cervical cancers, miscarriages, childlessness, and the groaning of all creation came about as a result of man’s fall into Sin; and we don’t use the effects of Sin to redefine that which God institutes and calls “good” in His Word, nor do we use the effects of Sin to defend the notion that procreation is somehow not a part of God’s intrinsic design of marriage. That is my biggest qualm with the other attendee’s rhetoric. His thesis does not fully confess barrenness as a post-Fall reality. Barrenness proves nothing about God’s procreative intent for marriage other than that God, post-Fall, allows the cross of barrenness to burden the shoulders of some married couples.

In regards to being sensitive to the barren, we should be careful not to turn God’s good, fruitful blessing for marriage into man’s good work. Scripture tells us that having children is not a law of God for us to keep but a heritage from Him for us to receive (Psalm 127:3). None of us would have children apart from God’s merciful blessing and giving. Only God in His wisdom knows why He does not open the wombs of the barren, and we should not burden the consciences of those who are unable to have children by suggesting they should be able to outwit the very Author of Life.

And as for using the existence of barrenness as an excuse to avoid the gift of children in marriage, I can think of no place in Scripture where God calls that good.

Top Ten

Top Ten Reasons for Training for a Triathlon:

10. Exercise is a heartening (pun intended) alternative to grieving.

9. Endurance sports are good training for enduring chronic physical pain.

8. Running helps you go all jedi on the havoc wreaked by Darth Lupron.

7. Swimming laps is a great time for running hymn lyrics.

6. Riding a bike through the country affords you views such as this one.

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5. Endorphins and dopamine, the natural kind.

4. You won’t be the only one wearing a wetsuit to the party.

3. You can train with your siblings and cousins and make race day a family reunion.

2. You get a really cool swim cap (and a really ugly T-shirt).

1. There is bacon at the finish line.

Ouch

I admit that I neglect the topic of physical pain on this site. It is a selfish decision on my part. I don’t like to dwell on it. Physical pain simply is, and I can’t do a whole lot about it. It is something to be managed and endured for the long run, and I am the queen of self-numbing when it comes to long runs. Deep breath, chin up, eyes ahead, slow and steady.

However, I do not mean to neglect or ignore your own physical pain, dear reader. I know you are weary. I know you have to stay home two days a month from your job because of the searing pain. I know your menses are more than inconvenient; they are debilitating and socially impossible. I know you can neither stand nor sit nor lie down when the pain hits, and I know you vomit and writhe and pass out from the experience. I know the injections, therapies, surgeries, and crazy dietary restrictions are giant feet kicking your already dead horse. I know you shake your head at heaven every time a cyst bursts and ask “Really, Lord? Isn’t my childlessness alone already painful enough?”

Yet, physical pain is a symptom, not the root, of the problem of barrenness. Sin is the culprit which leaves our bodies twisted in pain, and only Christ’s atonement for that Sin will do. His blessed exchange on the cross, His loving sacrifice of Himself for the Sin of the world, is the reason we have hope in the midst of our pain. For, we know that our Redeemer did not stay dead but lives, and though fibroids and cysts and scar tissue and cancer and worms may destroy our bodies, yet in our flesh will we see God.

So, by all means, consult your doctors, your naturopaths, and your pharmacists for help in managing your physical pain, for they are God’s good gifts to us in this life; but, when the pain cannot be managed and simply must be endured, remember your suffering Savior on the cross and cry out, “Lord, have mercy!” and know that He does.

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Phantom

Physical pain is a phantom.

It is terrifying, all-consuming when it visits. It makes you shiver in a cold sweat. It makes you lose control of your bodily functions. It chases away your language and leaves only muffled banshee moans in its wake.

Then, when it suddenly, mysteriously disappears, when it releases its raging grip on your existence, you can’t help but look around and ask, “Was it real, or did I just imagine it?”

Either way, the memory continues to haunt you.

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Endangered Species

What happens when a girl takes the same drug that men with prostrate cancer take?

Well, she sweats through her clothes. She wakes up in the middle of the night. She cries uncontrollably. She twitches with edginess. She gains fifteen pounds in two-and-a-half weeks. She gets dizzy when she works out. She alarms her doctors with the changes in her cholesterol levels. She feels a strange pressure in between her ears. She loses her right eyebrow- .

Wait, what?!

(Yes, you read that correctly.)

She loses her right eyebrow.

Well, almost all of it. I have fifteen hairs left, and you better believe I am building a game preserve on my face to protect all endangered species. I knew hair loss was a side effect of chemotherapy, but I had no idea eyebrows were fair game. After six months of Lupron injections, the glass is no longer half full; my face is half empty. Thank God for friends who come to the rescue!

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The Cross We Bare

surgical team workingLaura Koch reminds us in her reflection on “My Suffering Is a Blessing” that the crosses we bear can be very hard to bare. Thank you, Laura, for baring your cross to us.

Blessed by God – I suppose that would be the “category” that might describe me since I have four children that were created by God in my womb. But I also know the pain and sorrow of a body filled with stage 4 endometriosis. I know, too, the guilt and suffering that goes with losing an ovary by disease and then deciding to “tie the tube” on the other side because childbirth was becoming too hard.

Our first daughter came to be very early in our marriage. My husband was at the seminary, I was a Lutheran school teacher…we had barely enough money to live on, and yet she came. I was so afraid. How would we take care of her? God provided beautifully for all our needs….and even granted us a son while we were still at the seminary. Another daughter came during my husband’s early years in ministry. Our last daughter came three years later but two months premature, as I was severely bleeding due to placenta previa. After receiving 5 pints of blood, I was just fine. And after 4 weeks in the hospital she came home.

So, why then am I writing here? Because I find so much comfort in the words written on this blog. I believe God has created a natural desire in women to have children. We, on most days, comfortably nurture the people in our home. When this blessing of children is not granted or ceases to be, the pain that a women suffers can become unbearable at times. And when one chooses not to have children because of fear or because of a risk to her body, her grief can be insurmountable, too. I know.

The years following my tubal were filled with so much grief and tears. I wish I had not made that decision in haste – lying on a hospital bed in pain due to an enormous cyst on the other ovary. I don’t know if God would have granted us any more children. I don’t know if my body would have been able to handle it anymore. Eventually, endometriosis would claim my very womb, too.

The guilt over that decision, though, grieved my heart for many years.

A barren womb is not always easy to see.

We all know that we live in a sin-cursed world. We are children of God, saved by grace in the death of His Son, Jesus Christ, and we live in the freedom of our sins being forgiven. We know that God does indeed love each of us. We need to hear that spoken in our ears every Sunday, if not more! I know that God has forgiven me for that decision and He has calmed my spirit as years have gone by. I look at my children as the true gifts that they are, created in a body that was broken by sin. And I weep with the barren woman because I have shared in her grief, too.

Laura Koch