On not knowing WHY

Lately I've been thinking about how we humans are constantly interpreting our past by the present. We try to put reason to things that happened to us by looking at how they got us to where we are now. Usually we do this to put a positive spin on things: we broke up with an old boyfriend but the pain we went through was worth it because it brought us to the better man we're with today. Or we suffered through a year of infertility but we're now thankful for it because it propelled us to adopt our beautiful son half a world away.

We interpret the past like this because it makes bad things better.

But what about those times when our present realities do nothing but sour the past? I faced this question when our embryo transfer failed: on the day of our transfer I praised God because both our embryos survived the thawing process and were safely transferred into my womb. It was an answer to  many prayers! Two weeks later, however, a blood test revealed that neither embryo had survived and I was not pregnant.

As I bled and lost those lifeless cells I thought about the prayers of gratitude I had lifted to the heavens for their successful thawing. What did it matter now? My hopes and praises for them left silent. Aborted.

As I reflected struggled to make sense of my praise-turned-pointless, I realized two things:

1) I don't regret it. I don't regret being happy and more importantly I don't regret praising my Father. How could I? These words from Revelation 5:13 came to mind: "To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!" If all my worship belongs to God alone, I can't regret offering any of it to him! Neither can I regret feeling so happy on the day of our last transfer, taking pictures of our embryos and of myself with them inside. What's the alternative? Do I wish I would have known they would die? Do I wish I would have been unhappy that day? No. I'm thankful for those moments of joy I had both with my Father and with those precious lives inside. I'm going to do it all again when we have our next transfer this week.

2) I would do well to slow down and not ascribe meaning to life events too quickly. I'm realizing more and more that this act of constantly trying to interpret the events of my life is just another way I'm trying to hold onto control over it. It prevents me from fully trusting the Father.  Hebrews 11:1 describes faith in this way: "Now faith is assurance of what we hope for and confidence in what we do not see." If I'm always trying to make the unknown, known and unseen, seen... it's not really faith, is it? Add to that the fact that when I say things like, "God did this so that xyz would happen" I'm only guessing and often wrong and- well- it's a recipe for disaster. For hurt, for questioning, and for discontent. I can only do two things when I look into the events of my life: humbly admit I don't know why and confidently trust that God will not waste the events of my life: he will use them for his glory. 

I don't know why God took care of our first two embryos through the thaw only to let them die days later. Although I can't quickly interpret those events and ascribe meaning for today, I can trust he will not waste their lives nor my experience of loving and loosing them. I can trust that he will use my suffering to develop my character (Romans 5:3-5), that he will work it out for my good and the good of my fellow believers (Romans 8:28), and that he will one day make it right and heal my broken heart (Revelation 21:4). 

Lord willing, At 11:30 on Wednesday morning John and I will have our last two embryos transferred into my womb. I want so badly to ascribe meaning to this transfer already. I want so badly to say that God has brought us through four years of infertility to give these previous babies life. To say that he has brought me through my loss so that I could stand in solidarity with other women who have lost as well. That he would grant me these children so that I could stand as an example for the amazing gift of embryo adoption. I want so badly to know that this time we will avoid the grief of loss so that we can stand with our arms lifted high in worship to the Giver of all good things. 

But I don't know. I don't know whether the tears on our cheeks in two weeks time will fall in celebration of life or in grief of death.

All I can do is open my empty hands to the heavens in humility and ask that in all things God will use my life to his glory. Even when I don't know why. 



  1. So beautifully written. It's so hard to not try and find a reason for why bad things happen and it's so hard not knowing how current events will turn out. Basically, it's hard to give up control of our lives. Thank you for writing such an honestly open post. I needed it today.

  2. Thanks so much for writing this. I've been struggling with a knee injury for a year and a half and this is the conclusion I've also come to, but you put it into words for me! I love the application of Hebrews 11:1 to this situation. I don't think I've commented before, but I've followed your journey for a while. Thank you for writing, it is always beautiful and encouraging!

  3. This resonates with me deeply. We are on a four-plus-year journey to adopt—one that has involved bringing home a foster son, only to lose him six months later. We have realized that we, too, don't know why—but like you—we have to simply trust that our God is still Sovereign and that He will be glorified in our lives. Praying for your upcoming transfer!

  4. Wow. Amazing words, beautifully presented. Love your honesty and transparency. You are someone I admire deeply for all that you've been through and the ability you have to so succinctly reflect on it and put into words what so many have felt or are feeling (myself included). Praying for this journey right along with you!

  5. I can relate to this post so so much. Love this(in that hard, ugly beautiful way) and adore you.

    You're probably familiar with the Jeremy camp song "He knows"? Every time I hear it on the radio I think of you and spend the next few minutes in prayer for you and your babies. Praying so hard for you.

  6. Anonymous2/10/2015

    I have been following your blog for a while now. I found you when I was going through my own infertility struggles, and your words were very much a cushion for my own broken heart.
    I am now sitting with my 2 month old son, who I still can't believe is finally here. We got pregnant after a couple years of trying and although my wait was not nearly as long as yours, I feel your soul and loss and hope through your posts as I felt my own.
    Ever since my son arrived, I've given my hope to you and your family and those precious embryos. I'm not sure if it makes your journey lighter, please know you have helped me cope and have inspired me to hope when hope was scarce.

  7. This was good for my soul. I get so frustrated by people trying to fit painful experiences (like infertility) into "blessing in disguise" boxes or try to create reasons for why things happen. I also really appreciate your encouragements to keep hoping through the tough times. So, thanks :) and many prayers for your transfer next week.

  8. I love what you said here, Jillian. I think I try to do the same thing and always want to figure out why everything happens but we just can't. Praying for you with your transfer, and I hope we will hear good news from you in the coming weeks!

  9. Beautiful post. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Anonymous2/11/2015

    I can't even describe how much your posts mean to me. Not only do we share the exact same feelings through infertility and adoption, but also, you reference the Bible and show me exactly what verse to read, so I can find peace and comfort. Thank you.


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