Discovering the truth about ourselves is a lifetime’s work, but it’s worth the effort. – Fred Rogers
About six years ago, just as I was preparing to disembark with my husband from the dry, rutted, rocky road of infertility treatments, I recall saying to him something along the lines of “Something is wrong with me. I have no urge to do anything for anyone. I don’t want to volunteer anywhere, I don’t want to donate anything. I used to feel so strongly about this and now I’ve got nothing.”
It was a weird time in our life, but even stranger for me, who at the age of eight or so (and probably about as precocious as is possible) I had typed up a short essay entitled “The World, a Child’s Point of View,” about all the wrong things in the world, how I couldn’t sleep at night about them, and how we should all work together to fix things. My parents had passed it to our pastor who quoted it in a sermon.
I cringe to think of it. The fact that I had my own typewriter at that age is telling. (Cough) dork (cough, cough).
I worked with a friend to write an expose about global warming when I was in middle school. In Junior High I helped coordinate a drive for appliances for a local “soup kitchen” that landed me and a bunch of my precocious friends on the front page of our small town paper.
It really DID keep me up at night, all of it. During high school and college I would occasionally get very depressed and my close friends knew I was in one of my “What a world…. what a world” moods.
How then was it that at age 26 or so, I just didn’t care? If I were to go back, I would think it was depression. It was the depression of infertility, the unfairness of it all – it also had to do with something that is clear to me now. My husband and I weren’t going to church. We were living in a town neither of us had grown up in, and we didn’t have a church. And we weren’t finding one. We weren’t looking.
Around that time, I felt that familiar urge to seek. I knew enough to know that something was missing. I found a scripture that meant something to me:
Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you. – James 1:27
That scripture changed everything. I typed it up and hung it in my cubicle at my old office. I looked at it every day. Service could be my faith. I could get back to where I had been, when I had sat on the floor of my bedroom and typed up an essay about the wrongs in the world because I couldn’t get them out of my head.
My husband and I started church shopping. At one church, I noticed in the program that our local Hospice program needed volunteers to sit with the dying. Fear of death is a trigger for me, but I looked at the scripture from James 1:27 and decided that it was a challenge I needed to pursue.
Around the same time, my husband and I started volunteering at a no-kill animal shelter on a couple weekends a month. We would take the abused, neglected, abandoned, un-wanted animals and walk them or pet them or take them to adoption fairs.
I began to feel myself come back to life, and around that time we visited a local Presbyterian church that would become our church home. The pastor preached a sermon that brought tears to my eyes and I knew it was where we were supposed to be. And very shortly thereafter a local Christian non-profit with a great reputation was looking for an executive director. I threw my hat in the ring with much hesitation, but recommendations from parishioners at my new church and a surreal interview that was competely guided by the Holy Spirit ended with my being offered the job. And then, I had to decide if I was really ready to give up my great retirement plan and benefit package with my safe job and truly step out in Faith to do something worth doing.
I had to be the precocious 8 year-old again.
I look back now and see so clearly that God was guiding my life from the time I discovered that scripture. It was only a few months after I started my new job that we began our first adoption process. And I was sitting there at my desk when I saw my son’s face for the first time. That old worn piece of paper hanging only a few feet away.
I am nowhere near where I want to be spiritually, or as a person in this crazy world. Sometimes I still feel like everything is screwed up beyond repair. But I have been rewarded in my life for having faith. And the rewards were not the direct answer to what I pleaded for in prayer, if that had been the case I would have gotten pregnant – and my boys would not be my boys. God had something more perfect for me waiting. The lesson for me has been that it is not enough to have faith – unless there is action.
So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. – James 2:17