Season 1 / Church & Prosperity: I'm Sure God Gave Us This Baby

Editor: Ariana deVries
Mastered by: Joshua Snethlage with Mixed Media Studios
Previous Post: https://medium.com/jesus-in-focus/discovering-jesus-despite-years-of-church-part-1-7c86b9a5e5e1

In this episode, we will be starting off the season with our own story (mainly Ariana's side of it). After writing a blog post that ended up reaching more people than expected, we figured it was time to share the rest of the story. This is about where we're at now and the struggle between Church & Infertility. (There's also a little bit of Church & Prosperity thrown in there, too.)

Scott deVries

So a couple years ago, I wrote that blog post, which is on Medium. Were you involved in writing that blog post with me, at all? Was it just me?

Ariana deVries

I didn't really write it - you wrote it. And then I was your editor, quote on quote. I helped with fleshing it out a bit; making sure details were right. But otherwise, you were the main one behind it.

Scott deVries

So when you read it, though, it didn't, catch you off guard. It wasn't like something...

Ariana deVries

Oh, I was prepared for it.

Scott deVries

Yeah, so that was two years ago in October. I mean, a lot has happened since then. Quite a bit more than we probably expected, which is kind of fun. But, why did we write or edit it? I know that I wrote it because we were processing some things through church and through faith that we were going through, especially around the inability to have kids, and the miscarriage that you experienced.

But the aftermath. I want to talk a bit about the aftermath of writing this blog post. What...well, I mean, there was around 4500 people that read the blog post which was quite a bit more than we expected.

Ariana deVries

Way more.

Scott deVries

Yeah. I mean, it was kind of like, here it is for friends and family, and then...

Ariana deVries

Oh, the whole world knows.

Scott deVries

Oh and it's there. That was a bit of an interesting experience. For the first time experiencing either a level of fame or a level of like...

Ariana deVries

The story isn’t just ours anymore.

Scott deVries

Yeah. So, like, jumping off that, what was...what kind of response did you get from people about that? Did people approach you directly about our story? Was there emotions that came up when people experienced the story then told you about it? Yeah. I mean, I wrote the post but at same time we're a unit. People probably approached you and thought about it with you. What did you experience?

Ariana deVries

The interesting thing with it was that your name was on it; not mine. So, people thought that we were journeying separately. That was one of the biggest things; was that people thought that I wasn't okay with you being on this journey and that they thought that you were doing it by yourself. I think that was one of the biggest things; is that people were worried for me. But at the same time, they were excited to know our story.

Yeah. Hearing people's concerns and that they were all of a sudden on this journey with us and that they were sad for us, but also hopeful, and had lots of questions. I don't know if the blog post was helpful for people or not, but it was interesting to all of a sudden be a part of other people's stories - not just our own.

Scott deVries

They might not have read the blog post. Recap from your perspective what led up to the blog post; what you experienced - either with infertility. Give us a little bit of a snapshot. What was your dream - at least family dreams - things like that. Yeah. Like, obviously, you wanted five kids? Was it five?

Ariana deVries

No, it had to be an even number. Four or six.

Scott deVries

I see. So roll the dice on that. And everything was going up to plan with Breanne and then what happened?

Ariana deVries

Well, seven months after we had her found out that I was expecting again. But then found out seven weeks after that, that we lost the baby. Which that was really hard.

Not a fun experience; especially with feeling like, with how I was brought up in Christianity and in church, everything needs to go well because you're praying and you're doing all the right things and you're a good Christian and to not have something work out when you've been praying for it is not an easy thing to go through. And plus, we're not really taught how to go through suffering well. So, to have that happen, and then have it be years of trying again for another one...

We went through a UI and IVF and none of it worked.

And that was a pretty low point in personal life. When at the same time we were experiencing changes with church and friendships and asking questions and diving in more to what that means, because of our experiences with infertility. That's what spurred on the blog post, I think, is the church changes - the faith questions - on top of all of our fertility struggles.

Scott deVries

Yeah, the blog post was was interesting mixture of our story personally with infertility, but also a mixture of what we're experiencing a church at the time.

I've got a bunch of feedback about how some people loved our story. And they didn't love the church parts as much, which is understandable. People were wondering what our point was; what we were trying to do.

Part of it was, like you're saying, born out of our own story, but we were experiencing stuff at church, as well, that was tied to it, right? So you have teaching about prosperity and teaching about healing. And then we experienced that the first time in our own life. That kind of created a dichotomy that we needed to process, at least.

So, after the blog post, what kind of consequences did you experience with friends and family, or people that you tangibly knew? Acquaintances? People at church? Did people approach you differently? Because, obviously, many people read it. Probably a lot more than let on. Did you experience anything from people? Like - positive, negative?

Ariana deVries

It was mostly positive. In the fact that people weren't as inconsiderate and naive of my situation - from the personal side of the story. They were not quite as receptive to the spiritual/church side of the story. But at the same time, people also said that it was good for them to be able to hear that so that they felt that they could then voice some of their concerns and some of their questions, because now they knew that we were also going through that. And so then they could talk to us about that because they then saw that we were a safe place for that where there may be was not one for them.

Scott deVries

It's interesting, because, well, we were both brought up homeschooled and for our personalities, speaking up and speaking out about things is not really what we were either taught to do, or meant, or feel like we're meant to do - at that point, at least. So this was a big step for us to kind of say, 'We're willing to speak out about a few things'. Which I think has changed us quite a bit over the last few years, especially.

Ariana deVries

We're less scared to speak up about things now.

Scott deVries

Well, because I mean, you hear all the warnings about people saying, 'Don't step out', you know. You want to be really sure not to offend anyone. You want to make sure to be careful...

Ariana deVries

Live peaceably with all men.

Scott deVries

Live peaceably. Exactly. Right. And I think what we've learned from the blog post is that like, two years later, the benefits of being public have far outweighed the drawbacks. There have been some drawbacks, right, some negative feedback, which is expected, you know. There's perhaps a weird feeling that people know us better now than we know them. And some people will approach us like they... I think, a measure of fame is kind of interesting to experience.

Yeah. What kind of beliefs like, obviously, a couple of beliefs have been challenged since then, I remember you reading supernatural childbirth of the time when we/ you had Breanne. Things about...

Yeah, childbirth, what God wants from us, or for us, you know. What does blessing look like in our lives? How have some of those views changed for you over the last couple of years? I know that, I mean, we just, *spoiler alert* we just had another kid. So your experience about childbirth is probably a bit different than your first time around? What's changed since then?

Ariana deVries

A big thing that's changed is the needing it to be a certain way. And fear of it not being the way that I expect it to be. Not necessarily for spiritual reasons, like, because of reading, Supernatural Childbirth, but more so just physically and psychologically.

And realizing that it's a lot easier to just be chill. And to not be stressing about the way that life's gonna look, or like our family is going to look, or how the birth is gonna look, or what our kids are gonna be like.

Taking it one day at a time and resting in the fact that we can't actually predict the future, and we don't need to. Because, if I had known what would happen over the last several years, that wouldn't have been great because then I would just be waiting for all these really terrible things to happen and not enjoying the present, and wouldn't have learned, because I would just know that this is coming. And I don't know if I would have learned from it as well.

Scott deVries

Hmm. That makes sense.

Some of the stuff we were processing, or going through with church at the time. I remember, of course, a few years ago doing...we did the Blessed Life series from Robert Morris with church. A lot of talk about prosperity, blessing. Of course, at odds with our own experience, which is a tough thing to go through.

Well, how do you feel now that your church experience is different than perhaps 5-10 years ago? From what you've experienced, either with the miscarriage or with infertility, what has changed over the last few years for you personally, and for our family?

Ariana deVries

About church?

Scott deVries

Yeah, about church.

Ariana deVries

Church is a lot of less about the things that you do and more about the people that you do it with.

That's one of the biggest things that I've realized in the last couple years; it's not about going and doing things, and being a part of all these different programs, and giving your money, and your time, and your energy, and your everything into something. It's about being with people and hearing their stories and loving them well through struggles, through good times. Yeah.

Scott deVries

Because you were a worship leader at church. Obviously, we're both products of Servant Leadership Institute, which is our year program with the church. Like we've been through our youth and college-ish days, we've been pretty sold on the church participation. Now...do you serve at all at church?

Ariana deVries

No.

Scott deVries

So, no serving at all?

Ariana deVries

No.

Scott deVries

I'm sure you probably put exactly your tithe amount when you had a summer job, or things like that, at the time? Down to the penny?

Ariana deVries

Yeah.

Scott deVries

Do you still do that?

Ariana deVries

No. I don't tithe at all.

Dun duh duh.

Scott deVries

Oh wow. Interesting. I mean, obviously, I don't either, because we're...

Ariana deVries

In this together.

Scott deVries

Of course. I'm acting as the surprised person in the podcast.

Well, the tithe question is interesting, too.

Ariana deVries

Oh, we're going there.

Scott deVries

Well, no, we're not going there. But, it's part of the story since then.

I mean, part of the catalist was that Blessed Life series with how church, with our church journey, and of course, anecdotal remark, we stopped tithing and immediately our finances went crazy. I heard someone say recently that they had a miracle where they stopped tithing and instantly 10% more funds came into their pocket. Just is a miracle.

Which is kind of funny. But, you hear the stories about, you know, if you do these things, stuff will come or blessing will come, or money will flow. All this kind of stuff. And for us it was the opposite. We stopped giving and then our financial situation improved drastically, which is kind of hilarious.

It's interesting, because a lot of those type of things that we've learned, it seems like we've learned the opposite of what we should have learned. Right? Where, you know, you serve at church to develop relationships - to feel connected. And it feels like the more we've pulled back...

Ariana deVries

...the more connected we felt.

Scott deVries

Yes, more connected to people. I just find it interesting that we've seemed to have learned all the wrong lessons over the last two years.

Ariana deVries

We've had to do a lot of unlearning of things that we've learned over our entire lifetime of being at church.

Scott deVries

Yeah.

Ariana deVries

And learning how to actually be a Christian. How to actually love others. How to actually do what the Bible says.

Scott deVries

Interesting. That sounds like a good episode.

Ariana deVries

Yes, moving on.

Scott deVries

Well, since the blog post, so we wrote it, the blog post, we didn't know what was coming at the time. We didn't know what was happening. We knew that we wanted some church changes. We felt like we wanted to hear more, or the church to be more, or something. Maybe we couldn't quite articulate what it was at the time. Plus, of course, you still wanted another kid or more.

Ariana deVries

Yeah.

Scott deVries

Since then, two years later, while we have a month year old, sitting behind us - sleeping.

Ariana deVries

Month year old? He's two months.

Scott deVries

Two month year old. So obviously, things have changed. The pregnancy. How did that come about? I mean, we know how it came about.

Ariana deVries

Well, you know.

Scott deVries

Let me explain.

Ariana deVries

Just kidding.

Scott deVries

I remember you waking me up with a pregnancy test in my face. Suddenly, after five years of tears and excitement. For you, I mean, here was this thing that you're hoping and praying for, maybe given up praying for, and then this shows up? What was your...How did you feel about that process? How did you feel carrying him to term? How did you feel getting what you wanted, essentially.

Ariana deVries

Right. The interesting thing with this pregnancy was that I had gotten to the place where I was completely fine if our family was just the three of us - you, me, and our daughter. I didn't feel like that I needed to have another kid in order to be somebody anymore. And my value was not in how many kids I had.

So when I found out that I was pregnant, and it happened naturally without any sort of medical intervention...I was really excited, but at the same time, had to figure out what to do with that now; where to place that in my journey of faith. And...

...because I had finally received what I'd been hoping for, but I had somewhat given up hope. I had stopped praying. I had stopped specifically believing for another kid, because I had gotten to a place of contentment.

So it was interesting, having, now being pregnant, and having people come up to me and tell me how excited they were, and with tears in their eyes. And I felt like they were more excited than I was, because I had gotten to a good place. And...but I had to realize that that didn't negate how special this was. That just because I had gotten to a good place didn't mean that this wasn't also good and part of the story now.

The weird part, for me, was that other people now said that they had more hope, and they could believe again, because of what we received. Which caused me to pause and have to think about how to respond to these people. Because we had gone through our experience of infertility, and now we had this. So did that just solidify all of the prosperity preaching, and all of the "name it and claim it" preaching, and the blessings, and do what's right and good will happen?

But we had actually stopped doing everything that was "right" and then this happened. I still don't really know where to put that. Yeah.

Scott deVries

So people are putting their own experiences or their own beliefs on our story. And coming to their own conclusions. Which felt interesting, probably, because, I mean, we're the ones living our story and having people learn perhaps different lessons than what we had learned was kind of surprising, for you?

Ariana deVries

Yes. And I think that's kind of the push that we've been, over the past year, wanting to do the second half of our story - is to show people that it's not just about doing all the right things and praying, and then you'll receive your victory and you'll receive your blessing. That's kind of why we're doing this, as well. I think.

Scott deVries

Yeah, at least coming clean about our experience. I don't presume to think that we are learning all the right lessons from our own story. So I'm a bit hesitant to say, 'Here's the proper things to learn'. It's kind of fun to actually see the plethora of different ideas and opinions that come from one story.

Ariana deVries

For sure.

Scott deVries

Which is kind of...kind of fun.

Ariana deVries

I just...my main thing is, I don't want people to assume that I think and believe a certain way because I have received this miracle, quote on quote.

Scott deVries

Right, right. So when you walk around with him, say at church or in the community, you want people to at least know your side of the story, or at least know a little bit more about what you've learned or believed, and then make their own judgment based on that.

Ariana deVries

Yes.

Scott deVries

So, in just wrapping up, obviously, there's been quite a bit of changes, and we didn't touch on all of them over the last few years. Going forward, what does your relationship - say with the family you wanted, or the church that you were hoping for; what do you think that looks like, going forward? For you?

Ariana deVries

That's a loaded question.

Scott deVries

A little bit.

Ariana deVries

Oh man. I don't know. Yeah.

Scott deVries

Is it an I don't know that it's, like, it's exciting to know?

Ariana deVries

Yeah, because I think one of the things that I've learned is to go with the flow. To not be afraid of the future. To learn to dance with adversity. And...and I'm going to start crying.

Scott deVries

Well, because it's interesting. We've learned - I think that's the biggest lesson we learned over the two years - is losing control over our own lives is sometimes the best thing that can happen to us, right? Where we don't know what's happening, what's around the corner, we don't know. We assume we've been through a lot, and so maybe it'll be a slow season after that. But it's hard to know.

What you're saying, dancing with adversity. It's learning to enjoy the journey, no matter where it takes you. So whether it's, you know, infertility, that just shows up, or perhaps a church that's maybe not all that you were hoping or you're expecting it to be, or things like that. We can still look forward to the future, I think, even if it's a noble or a little bit scary. So...

I'm looking forward to doing more interviews like this. Thanks for listening. We'll catch up soon.

Ariana deVries

Bye!