Truth be told, I hesitated for awhile whether I should post this or not. It felt too raw to be shared. But when I read one of my friend’s blog entry, it hit close to home in more ways than one. It was a sharp reminder that our struggles and how we overcome it may be helpful to others. It brought back the desire to share this story so that it may help those who identify with our experience. So sharing the letter we wrote to our family back in April seemed appropriate as our first post for our blog:
April 15, 2015
Dear family & friends,
[Quick introduction before my real content: I have been known to ramble a lot, and do a “thought” vomit — so I hope you’re not too surprised to find yet another long letter 🙂 But having been several months since I have written anything to you all, I’d like to take this opportunity to give you an update, and also to give you a glimpse of what the Lord has done and is doing in our lives.]
So it has been close to 6 months into our married life, and while some might expect that we are in our blissful-cotton candy-hearts honeymoon phase, we have faced trials that challenged several aspects of our relationship with each other, and most importantly, our walk with Christ…
Jamen and I knew we wanted children. Two months into our marriage, I got off my pill and we tried . But even after few months, we were still unsuccessful. In fact, I started having more abnormal bleeding. When we went to the doctor, he revealed to us that I had a medical condition that renders me as infertile unless we take several procedures. Even though it has only been few months of us trying, it was difficult to hear that my body is just not able to work the way it was designed. I struggled with insecurity and depression, and I had a hard time looking past the negative thoughts about myself. And every time someone asked us when we will be having kids or whenever I hear about others successfully conceiving, it hurt to be reminded that we may never even actually see the day we get to have children of our own. I stopped going on my Facebook or Instagram for a while in an attempt to not stumble, but I was unable to escape these reminders as I looked at my own in-laws having babies or even with my friends successfully starting their own family.
On the other hand, Jamen’s previous consulting job caused a tremendous amount of stress, and while it was rewarding to work with an amazing company and help people, the stressful aspect of consulting and sales became unhealthy for him. His appetite declined, he was constantly anxious, and he spent sleepless nights worrying. We prayed about it with our family and friends, and eventually decided that it was best for our family that he leaves the job. It was a bold move for him to leave because he was the provider for our family, but there is no amount of money that can ever put a price on his health.
Even though we comforted each other in our trials, we still dealt with depression and our individual feeling of inadequacy — which eventually kept us absorbed in our own struggles. There were days when I didn’t want to pray. Truth be told, it ached to pray! I couldn’t even communicate my thoughts and feelings in prayer, and there were times when I couldn’t even read my Bible. I couldn’t talk to Jamen, because I knew that he was also going through similar struggles. His anxieties debilitated him, his panic attacks came back and made it difficult to even meditate on the Word. We struggled with our physical limitations, and we worried about financial security all at the same time. It got to a point where we couldn’t talk to each other, and that it felt like our own pain was too great to be able to comfort the other… It felt like everything was falling apart. Even as I write this, my hands shake in desperate attempt to not burst into tears.
Talk about a rough start for newlyweds — sick, broke, and depressed! But in the end, the Lord has been and is incredibly good and faithful.
Although this seems to crave for a redemptive or restorative ending, that somehow God would make us healthy or wealthy or prosperous in the end, our story does not end that way. At least not in this world.
In fact, none of the things I mentioned has changed.
But I still say that the Lord is incredibly good and faithful because He used the circumstances and the season we are in to draw us closer to Him, to increasingly trust His will for our lives, to make us desire for His wisdom and His Word, to empty us of anything we held onto to show that He is everything that we could ever want.
We knew we hit the rock bottom of our season, when one of our friends came over to pray for us and we both broke down and cried. It took a while to get out of that emotional rut, but seeing ourselves in that position was a sobering reminder that there is something that needed to change. (click next page below)
Jamen and I took steps towards restoration by actively studying and meditating on the Word together. There were days when I regressed and fell back into depression, but it only made me so much more dependent on God’s grace to even get me through the day. It also helped me rely on Jamen and his spiritual leadership in our marriage so much more. Jamen had also maximized his time by helping out at the church and meeting with our pastor and another elder every week. We knew discipleship was important, but our circumstances showed how incredibly valuable it is – Jamen felt like he has finally developed very close relationships with his church shepherds. I have also been so incredibly blessed with an older sister (and like a mom) in Christ who has made herself available in all my questions and confusions, and who has poured out her love and wisdom to me in so many ways.
It also taught us how to reach out to others for help, which helped us to grow, not just in our knowledge of Christ and His Word, but also in love for our brothers and sisters in Christ. We then channeled our desire to grow deeper in our faith and to do outreach by studying the Word together, and the Lord has been incredibly faithful to add people to our Bible studies. We have also been very thankful that He has given us several favorable opportunities to host many of our guests and friends whom we have spent fellowship with and has helped us grow in our love for hospitality. Our home was rarely empty – we were frequently blessed with our brothers and sisters in Christ who would study the Word with us, or even pray with and for us. (click next page below)
In retrospect, had we gotten pregnant the same time that Jamen left his job, we would have been at a really difficult situation that would have forced us to leave California. If we left California, we would have had to move away from our family and friends. If we had moved away from our family, we would not have been able to witness to them. And if we had not witnessed to them, Julie (my sister), who used to be very antagonistic towards anything related to Christianity, would not have heard the gospel and profess her faith in Christ for her salvation! Oh what sweet fruit to reap in a season that we thought will be fruitless!
Oh, the Lord is incredibly good and faithful! Not because He has made us healthy or wealthy and in that we are fulfilled.
But I say that He is incredibly good and faithful because He showed us in our circumstances that knowing Him– through His Word, through our brothers and sisters in Christ, and through His work in my sister’s once-hardened heart – is far more satisfying than health, wealth, or prosperity combined! He showed us that our comfort lies not in the season we are in, or the circumstances we are put under, but that it is in Him and His faithfulness alone.
We ask that you would pray for us in our continual growth in our love and trust for God’s sovereignty in our lives, and that we would live in ways most glorifying to Him! Our prayer is that you, too, would be the most satisfied and fulfilled in Him and His ineffable greatness…and that if you don’t have a personal relationship with God, we pray that you would, in faith, trust in His Son Jesus Christ.
May God be most glorified in all of us when we are the most satisfied in Him!
Humbled by His Love and Grace,
Jamen & Jamie