Finding My Way Back to the Beginning

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stefanie norlin - way back to the beginning-3By Stefanie Norlin | Twitter: @stefanienorlin

The summer after fourth grade, my best friend Juliana and I decided to conduct an experiment.  Standing on stools in my mother’s kitchen, we held cold eggs in one hand and punctured the tops and bottoms of them with a straight pin. Then we blew the yellow yolks into small Pyrex bowls until they were completely hollow. We nested these hollow eggshell babies in shoe boxes lined with cotton balls and calico fabric scraps from my grandma’s sewing box. We drew faces on them—tiny heart-shaped mouths in red ink, arched eyebrows, accidental smudged cheeks. We cradled them in the palms of our hands. We carried them everywhere.

***

Because of a known reproductive abnormality, my husband Scott and I started infertility testing and treatments shortly after we got married. The fertility drugs made me feel like a stranger in my own body. My stomach bloated and shrunk depending on where we were in the process—blood tests, injections to stimulate ovulation, ultrasounds, inseminations, the two-week wait, another blood test. By the end of each cycle, the fleshy part of my stomach where Scott gave me the injections at night had turned blue, then purple, and finally a speckled yellow.

As the colors of my bruise changed and my cycle waned, I did everything I could to remain hopeful. One month, I brought home a small oval embroidery hoop for the nursery, the word “Adventure” sewed on black fabric in tiny, even stitches. I propped it up on the shelf in front of my bed. It was the last thing I saw before I closed my eyes at night. I tried to pray. When I couldn’t or when I refused, I forced myself to believe that the Holy Spirit was groaning in my stead, a wordless intercession carrying me toward the will of God, and hopefully, my baby.

***

There are many times in my life when I’ve been so caught up in my own hopes that I’ve forgotten Who I’m called to put my hope in. When Scott and I were trying to conceive, I clung to Psalm 62:5: “Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him.” This was the kind of divine hope I longed for—a contentedness rooted in my Maker rather than in what He could give me, the kind of all-in satisfaction that stopped the striving in its tracks. But I felt, and can still feel, anything but quiet. Despite knowing the Lord to be the source of my hope, I constantly struggled against a restless mind, a weary body, and a combative heart.

It was in this season that I realized Jesus wanted me to just sit in His presence, so He could strip away all the notions I had about Him connected to my pain, to remind me He wasn’t the type of god who would tease me with His goodness, only to snatch it away in the end. Before I could truly put my hope in Him, I had to get to know Him all over again. So I began to clear away the noise in any moment I could find: quiet mornings in bed under the down comforter; frazzled commutes on the way home from work, the radio deadened; water pounding down on my head in the shower.

I didn’t say anything. Instead, I just breathed in and out, in and out, in and out. I let Him cradle me.

***

I began searching Him out once more during these quiet pockets of my day. It started slowly at first, fragments of long-forgotten Bible verses popping up in my head. I began reading through the book of John verse by verse, aching to see Jesus for who He really was rather than who I had made Him be. Whenever I read something in the text that pointed to Jesus’ character, I underlined it with a hot pink gel pen. They were my Ebenezer stones, the verses that helped me find my way back to Him. In the very first chapter, I saw that Jesus is an invitational God. As I kept reading, I saw He wants to heal us. That He’s not legalistic. That He’s concerned for our physical needs. That He longs to ease our fears. That He’s wise and patient. That He wants me to be refreshed.

“Come,” He told me. “Come and see.”

***

We gave birth to our daughter Cecelia Rose earlier this summer about five weeks before her due date. She was a tiny little thing with tufts of blonde hair and chicken legs, the most beautiful swaddled bundle I’d ever seen. I remember holding her in the hospital, staring into her murky blue eyes, and stroking her jawline. In those early days, there was an IV threaded into the soft part of her head. It made me think about how fragile we all are without God—bones and tendons and muscle and flesh. It made me realize that when I feel like falling apart, all I can do is lean on the Spirit to hold me together with His truth.

God is good.

Stitch.

God is someone I can trust.

Stitch.

God will always carry me through.

Stitch.

My hope in Him would never be in vain.

Stitch.

_______________

About Stefanie:

Stefanie Norlin Bio PhotoStefanie A.B. Norlin is a Detroit-based writer, book lover and French fry connoisseur. Her essays and poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Christianity Today, Urban Faith magazine, the Wayne Literary Review, and Under the Gum Tree. You can learn more about her writing at stefanienorlin.com or find her on Twitter at @stefanienorlin.

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Comments

  1. Stephanie Reeves says:

    Totally relate,even though my story of infertility is 21 years and 3 kids in the past. Thank you for sharing this.

    • Stefanie Norlin says:

      Hi Stephanie! Your testimony is so encouraging. Thanking God for His goodness and your three little (or not so little) blessings.

  2. You’ve captured that feeling of in-between-the-unknown-and-the-known so beautifully, Stefanie. God has used those times in my life, too, to solidify my faith and to remind me of the mettle of the One in whom I say I have put my trust.

    • Stefanie Norlin says:

      Thank you for your kindness, Michele! So good to be reminded of God’s mettle – that he is able to do more than we can ask for and imagine. Amen!

  3. Tracy Nelson says:

    oh, Stefanie! … me too, me too! …. just sitting quiet in the presence of Jesus has been my season, these past 6 mos… and He meets us, right where we are. He is SO good.

    • Stefanie Norlin says:

      Standing in solidarity with you, sister! Praying for you tonight that you feel Jesus in the quiet and see his goodness in your day to day.

  4. Stacey Pardoe says:

    Thanks for sharing your story, Stefanie. I found myself relating to your words in a very deep way. When we’re waiting to see God’s goodness, it’s so easy to take our eyes off of him. I love the image of letting him cradle you. And I’m thankful for the reminder to stay in God’s Word to encounter Jesus as he is, not as whomever we’ve made him out to be in our minds. Yes! I’m in that place where I need both cradled and reminded of what’s true about him! Thank you for these words!

    • Stefanie Norlin says:

      Hi Stacey! I’m so happy my words resonated with you. I love your reminder to encounter Jesus as He is, not just who I’ve made him out to be! Will definitely be trying to live that out more!

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