When you live across the seas in a place like Africa, you treasure the people who take the time and money and energy to travel to where you are. And even if those people travel to see your teammates, and not you, you STILL treasure them! We are thankful for people like Danni Langston and her husband who experienced Uganda, and the culture and people we love so deeply. It will always unite us. Danni’s grace story teaches us to be available to people when they just can’t be available to themselves. May God give us the eyes to witness when we are needed in these special situations.
I think we grow up believing that certain things in life are a given. At least I did. We’ll get older, marry someone amazing, have a perfect and always happy marriage, have kids, buy a house, get a dog, etc. One of the toughest realities of life is getting to a point where you realize….none of those things are guaranteed to us. Some of them may happen easily, but others will take hard work, cause heart break, or (the hardest realization of all) may never happen. This epiphany leaves us scrambling. What can we count on in this world? What is true and dependable? And most Earth shaking, where is our God in all of this?
My journey down this road started almost four years ago. I was enjoying life, when suddenly I turned around and realized how much I loved other people’s children. Everyone in my close realm of life had kids, and I loved them all. I cuddled, chased, colored, and played all they wanted. But when they got hurt or upset, they didn’t come running to me. They went running to their mom. She hugged and comforted in a way I never could. I longed to be the one that was wanted in that moment. Needless to say, it was baby time for me.
If you’ve been through this, you know the first few months can be exciting. Waiting to see if this is the month it worked. Months went by. I prayed, my husband prayed, we all prayed. Asking God to grant us this gift. Telling Him we’d cherish it and be responsible with it. Nothing happened. After about a year I finally got up the courage to seek medical help. This was the hardest part for me because in asking for help, I was admitting that something was wrong.
I was completely terrified that a doctor might tell me I was a broken human. That I had done something wrong, or was born wrong, and motherhood would never be my reality. But I put on my bravest face and went. I was instructed to make a few minor adjustments (which I’d already tried) and give it another 6-12 months. If you know what it’s like to be completely ready to be a parent, then you wait a year, and then are told to wait another year, you know how incredibly impossible that sounds. So I sunk. I sunk deep into a place where I couldn’t move and I couldn’t see. All I could do is dwell there. I began to question everything. Why was God so silent? Why would He not want this for me? What had I done in life to have this blessing withheld from me? Why was the woman screaming at her child in the grocery store super fertile, and I’m not?
The praying stopped. I didn’t feel like it was making a difference. It was the darkest place I’d ever been.
Here is what I learned about God’s grace is this: He doesn’t reach down His hand from Heaven and pluck you out of your darkness. Instead He is in the voices and the hands of those around you. He rushes them to you to do what can only be done by those physically in your midst.
We can experience this grace through a loved one, a family member, or even a complete stranger. When my body refused to move and my head refused to be lifted, others picked up my feet and opened my eyes. My sister nearly dragged me to a fertility specialist. She gave me deadlines to make the call, and then forgave me when I was too weak to follow through. She threatened to impersonate me and make the appointment herself if I didn’t do it. And finally she walked with me and my husband into that office, helping me shoulder my fears. We sat across from the complete stranger. A quiet, stoic doctor, confident in his work. He reviewed my file and I held my breath waiting for him to say I could never have children, or the wait would be much longer. With peace in his voice he said, I’ll have you pregnant by the end of the summer. As my jaw lay on the floor, he set out a plan in which he and I would both be incredibly pro-active in making this a reality. I left that room feeling the full grace of God surrounding me. God was not absent. His presence was full in the life of my sister and this doctor who helped me feel whole again.
I still don’t have the answers to many questions I struggled through during this dark time. But I know this: My daughter is almost two, and I experience more of God’s grace, faithfulness, forgiveness, and life-giving presence through her life than I could have ever imagined.
We need to share our stories so that we can be the hands, feet, and voices of God when we each need it. Grace, therefore, comes not only from the hand of God, but can be delivered through the hand of one in our midst.
May we have open eyes to see who in our community might need to receive a little of God’s grace through us.
Feel free to respond to Danni here. Let’s encourage each other in our stories!