by BonnieRuth Rolf
Have you ever asked yourself the question, am I going to survive this? The pages of my story are covered with one bewildering turn after another. Each page reveals heartaches, triumphs and everything in between.
My husband Jason and I quickly discovered that the covenant of our love story, “in sickness and in health”, would prove to be the anchor that enabled us to overcome every challenge. Jason and I have been marked by infertility. We have been through 3 miscarriages, undergone multiple treatments and several surgeries. The last one being the most difficult, a hysterectomy in 2020. We were not prepared for what was ahead of us 19 years ago when we said “I do”. Trust in each other, faith in God, and commitment to our vows carried us through. The constant trial we faced was to keep our hopes from being shattered by barrenness.
Year after year, dreams remained unfulfilled. We had to discover how to believe for our dreams, while also keeping a light grip around them. Unfulfilled dreams often carry with them the message that we have failed. I have cried out to God, “WHY? Why can’t I just have this one thing? What do I have to do for my dreams to come true?” I know God can handle my questions and frustrations in dealing with the seemingly broken pieces of my story.
Dreams fulfilled or unfulfilled do not define us. It is our response to them that reveals who we are. Jason and I learned to live our lives in a way that creates space for discovery in the uncharted territory of disappointment. We learned to live open-handed and open-hearted, regardless of the barren places we walked through. Is that always easy? No. Do we always walk that out well? I wish. Is it fulfilling? Absolutely!
It is not the fulfillment of our dreams that define the pages of our story, but rather how we choose to respond to them. When we make our sole focus fulfilling a specific dream, our life’s purpose can become clouded and our faith distorted. That dream risks becoming a barren place in our heart. The barren places try to isolate us and stir doubt. We can forget to lean into the safety and love of our God.
I am a strong believer that faith is not defined by our difficulties, but rather revealed by them. For years I lived under the lie that if I had enough faith, we would not experience infertility. Oh how wrong was I! It wasn’t about my faith being strong enough or good enough. Faith is a muscle I am growing, woven in the fabric of my heart and soul. It is the steady foundation that holds me up when everything around me is wavering. It is the choice I make to hold firm to who God is when I feel like all else is failing me.
Faith doesn’t exist to taunt or judge us. It is not meant to shame us when our expectations are not met. Faith is what rises up on the inside of us proclaiming I CAN, I WILL, I AM! Faith is not found in the things we do, but in the person of Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.
Maybe your barrenness is different from mine. You might be facing it in your marriage, your friendships, your singleness, or an addiction. Unfulfilled dreams may have you in a vicious cycle of feeling empty. We all have things that have tried to strip us of our hope and our self-worth. The barren places will try to entice you to isolate and hit pause on your purpose. The isolation sucks you in, creating a shadow of darkness, painting images of hopelessness and loneliness. It weaves a web of lies with the messages of self-doubt and worthlessness. When we find ourselves in that place, we have to recognize that escape and hope can only be realized in our relationship with God—and with the people He has lovingly placed in our life.
My friend, no matter what kind of barrenness you have experienced in your life, your dreams, your purpose, and your faith are not lost. No matter where you are in your journey—or what you are facing—we all have barren places, but we do not have to live broken.
BonnieRuth Rolf is a pastor, speaker and podcaster. She has been married to her husband Jason for 19 years. She deeply believes that no matter the barren places, we do not have to live broken. You can follow her on Instagram and at barrennotbroken.com.