When the Answer is “No”

By Deb Albritton

Growing up this is a word I heard an awful lot. When I was 6 years old my mother who was just 25 at the time married a man, who was almost 20 years her senior. He provided her with stability and I choose to believe she thought she was giving me a much-needed father figure. My biological father was physically abusive to my mom and she left him after marrying him twice when I was about 4 years old. Mom said I would wait hours on the couch looking out the window waiting for my biological father to show up to take me for some promised ice cream. He never came- not once. Evidently this led to me asking pretty much any adult male from the mailman to random strangers if they wanted to be my daddy. So, you could imagine my 6-year-old excitement to finally have a daddy. Except he really didn’t turn out to be a daddy. He was old school, military trained and very impatient. Children were to be seen and not heard and most importantly to obey without question. Once the “honeymoon” period was over, they settled into a not very good marriage-that consisted of my new father abusing alcohol and verbally abusing both my mother and myself. It became my goal to somehow make him proud of me-to do my best to be the perfect child. He already had two biological children that he had disowned for youthful mistakes. I didn’t want to be the third child to be disowned. So, I did my best to settle in to being seen and not heard. The hardest thing for me was hearing a continual no to any and every question.

May I please go to my friend’s house to play? NO

Could I have a friend over? NO

Can I use the phone to call a schoolmate? NO

Could I put on a favorite TV program? NO

You get the idea. It wasn’t actually the repetitive NO that was hard for me, what was difficult was not ever being allowed to ask WHY? I think if I could have had a logical reason for any of the NO’s it might have been easier to hear over and over. However, the truth was there really was no reason other than I was a child and he didn’t care whatsoever if I was happy or not. He just didn’t want to be bothered. On occasion, my mom would go to bat for me and fight to win me a privilege only later to be the target of his abusive tongue. I loved my mom dearly and to prevent her from these undeserved bashings -I pretty much stopped asking altogether. It wasn’t long until I began to connect the answer “no” to feeling unloved, uncared for and mostly unworthy.

Fast forward several years to my freshman year in college when the most wondrous event occurred. Sitting in the campus cafeteria I was invited to a Bible study. From that point forward I began to devour the word of God and entered into a deeply personal and real relationship with God. This was absolutely life changing. I had found my Father- in my relationship with God I finally had the Daddy I always longed for. This Daddy was so foreign to what I was used to. This one cared about everything I told Him, He listened and longed for me to spend time with Him.  I had always felt insecure with my earthy step-father now I found an inner peace and security unlike anything I had ever known. It was amazing. I continued through college, graduated, entered a satisfying career as a teacher and married an amazing man who loved God and loved me. God had continually heard and answered so many of my prayers -I thought the years of “NO” were finally behind me.

Then it happened. God hit with me with a walloping “NO”. About 2 years into our marriage we decided it was time to start a family.  We prayed earnestly to be good parents, to raise our future children to know God, to be a family that served the Lord. Except I didn’t get pregnant, again and again, cycle after cycle, waiting faithfully, confident in prayer knowing surely in God’s timing this would happen. Except it didn’t. We started fertility treatments, I underwent expensive and painful procedures to ensure optimal chances for pregnancy. I took hormones and yet nothing worked. It seemed everywhere I looked someone was pregnant or holding a baby. I could not understand why God was withholding this amazing gift from us. I turned to scripture only to find examples of God closing women’s wombs in response to their sin. It seems infertility in the Bible was typically due to sin in the woman’s life. I imitated Hannah and poured out my soul to the Lord in great anguish and grief and yet the answer persisted -“NO”. At this point I was teaching 6th grade and found out that a 12-year-old student in my class was pregnant. This was my breaking point. The continual “NO” without understanding why took me back to my youth. I had a severe crisis of faith. All the ways I had felt about my earthly step-father I started to feel about God. I heard the lies of Satan screaming in my head. “See He doesn’t really love you.” “You aren’t worthy.” “You aren’t good enough-you have never been good enough.” After almost 10 years of faithful service and delight in God -I began to question God’s goodness.

It was at this point that I once again truly counted the cost of my being a follower of Jesus as I had many times before-but this was by far the most difficult. Would I truly deny myself and continue forward in the commitment to follow and trust God even if that meant that I would be childless the rest of my life? Would I still give God my whole heart and all my trust even if I didn’t understand why in this one area His answer was continually an unyielding “NO”?

Much like the Israelites 40 years in the desert and Jesus’ 40 days of fasting in the wilderness-this was going to be my make it or break it moment. Anyone that truly wants to follow God for any length of time is going to have one (or more) of these times. A time that we will have to wrestle with God and fight to keep our faith. Where we must decide if we are going to hold on to the promises in His word that He is good and that He only wants what is best for us-even if we don’t understand it. Your desert moment may look very different than mine but you will have one.

I read these verses and many others over and over.

Hebrews 10:35 “So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.”

Exodus 14:14 “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

Isaiah 41:9,10 “I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you. I said, ‘You are my servant’; I have chosen you and have not rejected you. So, do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

I had to yet again make the decision that unlike my earthly father, my heavenly Father-my Daddy was not abandoning me. He was not saying “no” because He didn’t care or couldn’t be bothered. Even though I was unable to understand, His “no” had to be for my good and after much wrestling I chose to believe it.  

It was a few months after this life-defining moment that my husband and I began to pursue adoption. This was a whole other adventure and trek through yet another wilderness. We endured invasive questionnaires, home studies, fire marshal inspections, fingerprint background checks, and multiple parenting classes -but this time we believed God had a purpose. It was in those required parenting classes that we met another couple that have become life-long friends and that we were able to introduce to knowing God and having a real relationship with Him. Along the adoption journey we met others who also struggled with infertility and we shared our hope in God’s plan everywhere we went. Almost two years went by when I received a phone call from the social worker while at work. We had been chosen by a birth mother to be the parents of a baby boy. If we were interested he could be ours in just a few weeks. The social worker proceeded to tell me that she wasn’t quite sure how this particular child ended up in the program we were adopting through. Kids in this program were supposed to have special needs of some kind-whether it was asthma or other serious medical issues etc.… we chose this program specifically because it was free to adopting parents and we didn’t have the funds to choose private adoption. She proceeded to tell me-this baby has no special needs at all but somehow, he ended up in this program and his birth mother picked the two of you.  So, do you still want him? Our answer was a resounding YES!!!! We want him!!! She then said, “Well because he actually has no special needs you will have to be responsible for some of the expenses-primarily you will have to pay the attorney fees.” I nervously asked how much those typically ran and she told me “oh around $3,000”. Without hesitation, I told her we were definitely still interested and we would pay the fees even though we didn’t even have a few hundred to spare. I knew that God brought us this far-He was going to work it out! As I got off the phone the school secretary sitting next to me (she had heard the entire conversation) said.” You know there is an adoption fund for state employees -although I am not sure how much you can get.”  We proceeded to borrow $3,000 from my husband’s uncle, paid the attorney and adopted our new son! We then submitted the receipts to the adoption fund and were told amazingly that we had been approved for the maximum amount which just happened to be $3,000. A few weeks later the check came in the mail. We repaid the uncle and begun life with our baby boy!

That baby boy, Riley, is now a 19-year young man starting his second year of college. He loves God and made the decision to make Jesus, Lord of his life, and get baptized a few years ago. He has since helped bring 2 of his best friends into a relationship with God. He has traveled to Nicaragua, Honduras and Haiti to help serve the poor and needy and to show them God’s love. He is truly a remarkable young man with an amazing smile and an affinity for life. He has been one of the greatest blessings and joys in my life and the only reason for that is because God said No. The original no was very painful but with the benefit of time and perspective I would choose it all over again. God could see the plan for my life clearly and He was navigating that which was best not just for my life but also for my future son’s life as well as all the lives that have been touched because of this adoption.  God is a wonderful Father-He doesn’t ever say NO without a reason-even when you don’t like it or understand it-I encourage you to trust it. Your story may end differently than mine but I believe wholeheartedly that my Daddy will do what is best for you and your future-I just beg you trust in Him, curl up in His arms and let Him love you through it.

 


Sharing her heart today is my friend and neighbor, Deb Albritton. Deb is the kind of neighbor everyone hopes for; the kind I thought was long gone…the kind you can run go borrow an egg from when you realize you’re short one for the cake that is about to go into the oven; or the kind you can trust to make sure your sprinkler timer is working every day when you go on vacation for a week; certainly the kind you’d invite over for a cookout; the kind who brings over chicken noodle soup when you aren’t feeling well (and samples of all her other beautifully amazing sweet treat kitchen creations); and who has the kind of perspective that speaks to your soul when you’re having a rough day.  She is faithful in shining her light without even a hint of complaint, though her body sometimes slows her down.  When you’re around her, you quickly know that her heart is for her Daddy God above all.

This is the fifth installment in my summer series of pieces contributed by my friends — everyday people like you and me, who are faithfully walking through difficult things with grace and peace.

They are wise.

They are sincere.

Their walks with Jesus are tested and true.

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