Amanda Hope Haley’s new book, Barren Among the Fruitful: Navigating Infertility with Hope, Wisdom, and Patience, is an entertaining, insightful, and well-researched survey of the infertility challenges a growing number of women are facing in America and other developed nations, with a fresh perspective on the plans God has for women–both barren and fruitful. Whether you are currently struggling to have children, are making plans to start a family, are suffering the pain of never conceiving or of losing a child, or are wanting to better understand someone enduring fertility treatments; this book is written for you and about you. What follows is an exclusive excerpt from the book.
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“Don’t be afraid . . .”
I admit it: part of why I wanted children was that I feared not having them. I wondered, who will care for me in my old age? I’m an only child. I don’t want to end up alone and forgotten. This, of course, is not a good reason to have a baby.
Fear should never motivate any decision.
In his last letter to Timothy, Paul told his young disciple – and us – that fear and cowardice do not come from God: “What strikes me most is how natural and sincere your faith is. I am convinced that the same faith that dwelt in your grandmother, Lois, and your mother, Eunice, abides in you as well. This is why I write to remind you to stir up the gift of God that was conveyed to you when I laid my hands upon you. You see, God did not give us a cowardly spirit but a powerful, loving, and disciplined spirit” (2 Timothy 1:5–7).
I long to be told that my faith is “sincere,” that it is the same faith that lived in my great grandaunt Bessie. Her spirit was indeed “powerful, loving, and disciplined.” When her first husband died, when she was raped, when she knew for certain she’d never have a child of her own, Aunt Bessie thrived because she knew what I’m slowing learning: God will always be with me; I can’t ever be alone.
In the immediate future (and I hope for decades to come), I have my husband, David, to literally keep me company. I am so thankful for him, but just as a child could never satisfy my life, David cannot either. David is not the source of my strength, the silencer of my fears. God is.
Only God will always be with me. Because I am His adopted daughter, God’s Spirit lives inside me.
Paul may have gone so far as to say that my David is an impediment to my relationship with God. When he wrote to the church at Corinth, he addressed interpersonal relationships and corrected some wrong behaviors. He sent his advice to edify the church and the individuals within it.
My primary desire is for you to be free from the worries that plague humanity. A single man can focus on the things of the Lord and how to please the Lord, but a married man has to worry about the details of the here and now and how to please his wife. A married man will always have divided loyalties. The same idea is true for a young unmarried woman. She concerns herself only with the work of the Lord and how to dedicate herself entirely, body and spirit, to her Lord. On the other hand, a married woman has vast responsibilities for her family and a desire to please her husband. I am not trying to give you more rules and regulations. I only want to give you advice that is fitting and helpful. I want to help you live lives of faithful devotion to the Lord without any distraction (1 Corinthians 7:32–35).
Paul says it is preferable not to marry because family relationships divide our “loyalties” and keep us from wholly dedicating our lives to God. This is not a contradiction to “Be fruitful and multiply. Populate the earth” (Genesis 1:28), the very verse with which I began this book and the verse that has given millennia of infertile women their inferiority complexes.
Paul models a celibate life spent in service to God, but we don’t have to be celibate to serve God. A celibate life results in a life without children, but parents serve God every day inside and outside their homes. Paul was speaking from his own experiences, suggesting that the fewer ties we have on earth, the closer we can follow God and the more we can do for His kingdom. He calls some of His children to be parents, but not others. We are all necessary in the church.
God longs for us to trust Him with our insecurities and fears. He has a unique role for you as part of the church body. Come join the conversation on our blog! We would love to hear from you about how you are trusting Him with your present and your future!