Holistic Hivemind, episode number five, we’re talking to Natasha Metzler, author of the recently published book Counting Grains of Sand (available on Amazon). It is a fantastic book about her story with infertility and in our video chat below we talk a lot about coping with infertility grief.
I also read another one of her books, Pain Redeemed (also available on Amazon), which was kind of the precursor to this book. That book was amazing as well and one thing I really loved about it was that she included so much of her old journals. I would read them and think, “Oh my goodness. This is what I was feeling.” It was like a mirror copy of my own journal, although better written!
I really enjoyed seeing her story progress through Counting Grains of Sand. The story she tells is woven together beautifully and truly shows how God was working in her life, even when she didn’t realize it.
We have known each other virtually for many years, and she is a former contributor here at NFW, but we’ve never spoken face-to-face until now. I am so glad she has shared her story with us and I hope and pray that her words speak to you as it does to me! You can watch our chat below for the full conversation or read the summary if that’s more your style.
Counting Grains of Sand author interview
Can you give us the short synopsis of your story over the last few years?
My husband and I have been married for just over 9 years. We knew before we got married that we would probably struggle some with infertility. I had already been diagnosed with some medical issues.
I seriously thought when I go married that God was just going to be gracious to me. It might be a little work to have kids, but it would come. Right after our marriage my body kind a crashed and I spiraled into depression. We didn’t have kids easily, as I thought God would allow us to.
In Pain Redeemed, I share about how I have now realized I was depressed. There were a lot of things going on physically, but also emotionally and spiritually. Going through that really opened my eyes to what the Lord wanted to do in my heart and in my life through facing infertility.
Fast forward a few years, we went through a lot of hard things. We had some failed adoptions and I share a lot about that in my book. Then eventually the Lord brought us an 8-year-old little girl.
He had this little girl for us this whole time we were struggling with miscarriages and losses and all those hard things. Since then we have adopted another little boy who also came when he was eight years old. We joke that we just grow our kids at eight. They don’t come as babies. We get 8-year-olds.
That’s where we are right now. We have two children. They are eleven and ten now. They have been with us for a little bit and we are getting used to being a family. God is continuing to teach me so much now through parenting these adopted children.
I have been able to heal a lot physically, but have not been able to carry a child. So that is still an ongoing thing in my life and that story is not done yet.
You wrote about true surrender being a process. I want you to talk about how laying down our dreams is a continual act.
At that point in the book, I was sharing about how we had a failed adoption. Right when I thought the Lord was going to start bringing me Delight, we were facing really hard things in our lives, in every area.
When I really looked at it, I realized the thing that was bothering me so much was, once again, I was thinking about not being able to have children. But I had already laid that down. I had surrendered that to the Lord at an earlier point after our failed adoption.
When I was a of a sudden facing these thoughts again, it felt so overwhelming to me. I was thinking, “Didn’t I already do this? What did I do wrong?” The Lord began revealing to me that this is a process. It’s a daily thing that we need to do. We need to continually come back to him.
I think we, as people, are just forgetful. At least I am! God will do things in my life, but unless I am making a choice to turn to Him today I won’t be living out the things He has taught me.
I reference Romans 12:1 in the book where it talks about being a living sacrifice. When I researched that, I realized the literal meaning of that is to live offered, which is something you are doing currently. It’s an action happening right now. It’s not something you did in the past.
That was freeing in a lot of ways when I realized that truth about surrender. It felt overwhelming to think my faith wasn’t good enough or I didn’t do it right somehow. Instead, this is something you do day after day, and God is faithful day after day.
How do we deal with feelings of being unloved, unwanted, and unworthy when dealing with infertility?
This is something I have been looking at a lot lately because I am raising an 11-year-old girl. This age is notorious for struggling with identity and trying to figure out who they are. But then also my daughter was adopted at eight years old, so that is a big thing as well..
I feel like I keep looking in a mirror because I watch my daughter struggle with this and I remember those same feelings, not just when I was eleven but even about five years ago! (ha!)
One of the things we keep talking about over and over is our identity, who God created us to be. To be able to function in life, we need to know who we are. For my daughter, this is a new thing. She is now a daughter in a family who loves her and is going to keep her. That’s a new part of her identity where she hasn’t quite connected all the dots in her head.
Truthfully that is the same place I am so often with God. He says over and over again in Romans, John, and Corinthians, that we are the children of God. If we have accepted Him, we are His children. Yet, I continually react to things in life as if I’m not really a loved child.
All those feelings of being unloved, unwanted, and unworthy are not true. We have to be able to look at our lives through the view finder of what God says instead of through what our emotions may say.
When we are looking at life through the viewfinder of our emotions, we end up looking for proof we are unloved. So we have these expectations that if God loves me, He will do X and Y for me. When that doesn’t happen, we translate that to mean the we are unloved.
A big thing is making sure we are actually looking at truth and getting truth into our minds. Read the verses of scripture that talk about being a child of God and that we have the right to call him Father. When I am feeling something different, I can call that out as a lie.
If I am looking for His love, I can find it, because we have been blessed in so many ways.
It is hard sometimes when we are told the Bible has all the answers, but we don’t know where to look. When we are struggling, how do we find answers?
In Pain Redeemed, I share about how I got to this place where I didn’t even know what God was saying anymore. He wasn’t doing what I expected, so I didn’t know if I even knew Him.
At that point in my life I didn’t have any children. My husband and I had moved to Haiti to do mission work. That was kind of ironic because I didn’t know where God was and what He was doing, but I just started reading through scripture.
At that point I started in Genesis and prayed the whole time for the Lord to show me where He was and what He was saying. The Lord used that, and it was very transforming for me.
Today if someone told me I needed to read through scripture from beginning to end, I would say, no way! Today I look up specific words. The internet is super handy for that. I can say, Lord I am struggling with surrendering to you. Then I can look up the word “sacrifice” and see where that is mentioned in the New Testament. That has been really helpful to me at this point in my life.
I would encourage people to first ask the Lord what it is you are not understanding. If it is your identity as a child of God, start Googling what verses are there about being a child of God. There are lists all over the internet. Then take those lists and open your own Bible.
photo credit, Nejron via Canva.com
You talk a lot about hearing God. Sometimes we don’t know how God reveals himself to us. How do we know God is speaking to us?
There are lots of ways God reveals himself. I was talking to my children about recognizing every morning when we get up and it’s a beautiful day, that’s God gifting something to us. We can be acknowledging Him for that.
One way I feel like we can hear God or know Him is through His creation, through the daily gifts he has given us. When we start acknowledging and recognizing that those came from God, suddenly that opens our eyes to him. We often ignore His gifts on a regular basis. I can go for days without actually acknowledging Him.
It talks about that in Proverbs where it says, “in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.” Every day acknowledge where God is and what He has already done, not just what you want to hear him say.
Another thing that comes to mind and is really huge, especially for women dealing with any kind of pain, is we are very quick to not pay attention to someone else who is talking. For example, if I’m talking to someone who has six children and has never experienced infertility, it is easy for me to disregard what she is sharing with me because she doesn’t know what I’m facing.
I’ve realized that is very dangerous. It shuts out one area that the Lord uses all the time to teach us, through the church body. If we are shutting off parts of the body because they are coming from a different place, all of a sudden we are shutting off the Lord’s voice.
We have actually had a really hard past couple of months in our family. Looking back, the Lord has been so faithful to lead me, guide me, and encourage me. And almost every time he has done those things, it has been through other people.
Most of them have not experienced anything that I have in my life. None of them have adopted kids. None of them have faced infertility. Yet the Lord has used them to speak into my life and sometimes even to correct me.
I think about how many times I missed that during my walk with infertility. The Lord is faithful and He uses His body to speak to us. So we need to be careful not to shut out others who have come from a different direction. If we are in the practice of listening and not shutting them out, it opens that door for the Lord to speak to us.
It takes humbleness to share where we might be hurting. In the end, we find out that everybody really is going through hard things.
Knowing what you know now, what do you wish you could tell yourself ten years ago about coping with infertility grief?
There are probably two things that I really wish I had an idea of at that point. One of them had to do with depression. I faced depression for a while. What I didn’t know at the time was that there is kind of three levels of depression.
One is physical and has to do with your hormones and all of that. For physical depression, I would tell myself, just do whatever cleansing and dietary changes you need to do because you will feel better. That was a huge part of my journey. When I could use diet to get my body righted enough that I could get up in the morning, that made a big difference in life.
You can also be depressed emotionally and spiritually. I think emotionally the big thing for me had to do with believing lies. Getting truth into my mind again is what helped heal emotional depression. Spiritually it came down to seeking God and not putting expectations on Him. Just seek God for who He is.
I wish I could have realized those three things were all separate at the time I was physically depressed. Now when my body gets off a little, and it does very easily, I need to recognize if this is something physical or if there is something off emotionally or spiritually.
Differentiating between that was life-altering for me. I know what to do to fix it. If it’s spiritually and I’m upset with God, I know I need to talk to Him. If it’s physical, I need to look at my diet.
The second thing I would tell myself is that God hadn’t forgotten me. That’s a lot of what Counting Grains of Sand is about. It’s my realization that the whole time I was going through hard things, I kept trying to have faith that God cared. I struggled with that because things weren’t looking the way I expected them to.
But He really hadn’t forgotten me. He was working the whole time. He really was redeeming the hard things. That doesn’t mean the hard things were taken away. I still struggle with infertility.
I don’t have the babies I would want. But I can also look and say God is doing good things, and I have these two children who are wonderful. He hadn’t forgotten me. He was building a family for me.
I wish I could encourage myself it’s ok to trust. God is going before you. He is coming behind you. It will be ok.
Where can we find your book?
Counting Grains of Sand is on Amazon on both Kindle and as paperback. You can get a pdf version, if you prefer, from my blog NatashaMetzler.com.
You can also find my other books by searching Natasha Metzler on Amazon.