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Hi. Welcome to my "taboo" blog. My name is Steph, and when I first started this, I was still in my thirties. In 2017, I switch decades! I am a Christian, so underlying everything I do and say is the Word of God, and the foundational truths I have learnt over the years. This doesn't mean I'm perfect - I am human. It just means I recognise I need God's help to live this life and try to live out His way, as best I can. So that's me in a nutshell. Thanks for taking the time to read through my blog, I hope you draw strength, hope or encouragement from what you read.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Reflections from the Woman To Woman Conference, 2014

Over the weekend, I attended the Woman to Woman conference in London, organised by the presenter of the Premier Radio show of the same name, Maria. The conference was themed "All Things are Possible" from Matthew 19:26, and the popularity of the conference, as well as the incredible faith demonstrated by Maria, is that the venue, Westminster Central Hall was fully booked and they booked a second venue to run the SAME conference at the SAME time, with the SAME theme and the SAME speakers!!! I was in the overflow venue, and there was such a sweet fragrance of Jesus, that we did not feel like we were any less a part of the day, than had we booked earlier to get into the main venue! And as a smaller venue, there may have been more of a sense of intimacy.

One of the main points which I received from the day was the fact that we are all going through STUFF! I think the reason the event was fully booked is because every one of us is desperate to see God move in our lives, and to really see #allthingsarepossible! We all face situations which are not easy, and when we struggle to see God in the middle of it all, and I know this from my own Journey for Bubba (as well as other stuff that's been going on recently) it can be difficult to actually see God at work in our lives. One of the speakers, Danielle Strickland, had a bit of catchphrase in her talk, in relation to "All things are possible"... "What? In real life, God?" When you are struggling to deal with life on a daily basis, it can be hard to believe, "ALL THINGS" are possible.

As those of us walking through our own Journey of infertility are all too aware!

An important revelation moment came through the personal story of Katharine Welby-Roberts (daughter of the current Archbishop of Canterbury), who spoke about her very real, very present, very difficult journey with God and the depression she suffers from (you can read what she said here). The impact her testimony had was so powerful she received a spontaneous standing ovation when she finished. It wasn't so much about what she said (although she gave us some brilliant pearls of wisdom in her honesty about her journey!) as much as it was about her vulnerability and openness: The reality that actually, life is flipping difficult, it isn't fair, and it does cause us to question God and our faith in Him, "how do we reconcile belief with the world in which we live?". It's the sense that in spite of living with the types of illnesses the Church finds difficult to deal with, God accepts us and loves us - the Bible is filled with accounts of people who struggled with depression, even down to those who had suicidal thoughts! So that is why Katharine can say firmly, "When I am in my blackest and darkest place, I can find a sense of peace... God is sitting in the darkness with me."

I know there are people in the Church who struggle with the same thing I do, and yes.... there are times when we do feel depressed because of the infertility. Too many of us in the Church are fixing a mask each week, and pretending we're OK, when actually there are times we feel so distant from what is happening around us, it's like we're trapped in a huge, lonely void of isolation, hopelessness and despair...pushing our faith in God, and our experience of His love, to the very limit!

Jesus Himself said, "I didn't come for those who are whole, but for the sick"... How come then, the Church is full of sick people walking around hiding their reality and pretending we are whole. When did the Church become so fixated on "being fixed" that we forgot to let God know we need His healing and restoration in our lives? When did we hold back from allowing God to fix us, in pretending everything is OK? When did we inadvertently start to condemn those who are struggling for not having enough faith?? What message are we giving the hurting around us, if we walk around like nothing is wrong - ever? Why is it that some of the big issues people are dealing with, like depression, like infertility, are stuff the Bible talks about... but Church shies away from?? Why do we accept the Bible "greats" like, Hannah, David, Sarah, Elijah, but seem to shun the people around us who are exactly like them, with the same issues?

In asking these questions, I'm also aware that I too add to this, by hiding from people who know me the deepest issues of my heart which affect my daily walk with God. There are many people I know, who have no idea about my struggle to conceive. I have never posted anything from this blog on my Facebook page... because it worries me how some people will respond, because I don't want some people to know "this" about me, because there's a sense of pride that I should be OK, that because I'm a child of God I shouldn't have any problems, that God will make a way where there seems to be no way so if I speak out against that I am doubting him, because there is a sense of being judged by others, because the Church is better at condemning than we are at demonstrating graciousness! 

But in holding back, am I actually stopping God from using my story, and my very real struggle; to witness to another woman (or man) who is struggling to hold it all together in their own Journey through infertility? Sure... there has to be a level of wisdom... But in taking off the mask, and being real, open and vulnerable... would we make space for God to comfort us through others, and use us to comfort people in the same situations... The Bible says, when one part suffers, we all suffer.... But how can we walk alongside someone in their darkness, or allow someone to walk alongside us through ours, if we're all walking around hiding the deep scars, struggles, and soul-cries?!!?

The question then becomes,  who's going to make the first move and how do they do it???

Father God, I believe You are trying to strip away our pride and cause us to lay our souls bare, so that we can be a clear witness about the work You are doing in our lives EACH DAY! I believe You want people to be more authentic in how we relate to You, and in how we relate to each other. I pray You would give me the courage to be real about what I'm going through when You need me to be, in the hope that You will provide someone the comfort they need through their own struggle - whatever they are walking with. And when I am vulnerable, I pray You would protect me from the harm. In Jesus name.

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