Convos With Cathy is an interactive podcast series which has real, raw and honest conversations with a wide range of guests. Each week, Cathy Clarke, presenter and lead pastor of Hillsong UK, asks guests, ranging from entrepreneurs to trauma trained psychologists, the burning questions we all want answers to in a light, humorous way.
In this convo, Cathy Clarke sits down with DawnCheré Wilkerson – Lead Pastor of Vous Church Miami, Florida alongside her husband Rich. DawnCheré shares her experience with an eight-year battle of infertility and opens up about the ups and the downs of her journey and how she used her faith to triumph her fear.
Born and raised in Shreveport, Louisiana, and now raising her own family in Miami, Florida, DawnCheré (DC) has always been big on family. In fact, she has six siblings, a “whole vandal” as she puts it.
“My dad’s name is Denny and my mom’s name is Deanza and their last name is Duron. They thought, let’s keep the whole D thing going, so they decided to have a whole vandal of kids and named us Destiny, Denny, DawnCheré, Des, David Dee and Dakota. And after I moved out, they adopted a seventh!”
And according to DC things were often “messy” but always “genuine and full of fun.” And amidst the madness of a whole lot of kids, church was always a priority for the family.
“My dad was (and still is) a football coach and a pastor, so on Friday nights it was American Football and on Sundays it was the front row of church. And I don’t know how my mom kept her salvation with all of us! But she never gave up – she’d get us in no matter what. Whether our hair was done or not, whether we were fed or not – no matter what, we were going to make it to church. My parents are my best friends and my heroes. They brought us along the journey. They showed us that even if it’s not perfect, you can still enjoy the journey in the craziness of life.”
With family being such a huge part of DC’s life, it was no surprise that after she and her husband got married, kids were definitely part of their plan. After all, as the age-old rhyme goes: first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a baby in a baby carriage…
“I fell in love with Rich when I was 17. We dated for five years, got married and then three years into that, we decided we were ready to start a family. So on my 25th birthday, I had an early morning doctor’s appointment but when I went in, my doctor said to me straight away, “DawnCheré, your blood test results came back and they’re irregular.”
Not exactly the thing you want to hear from a doctor –
“So, she handed me a business card for a fertility specialist and told me to see him immediately. I was so shocked. My parents had six kids – my dad winked at my mom and she got pregnant. They never had any trouble. So, it never crossed my mind that it would be a battle I would face.”
This began DC’s eight-year journey of overcoming infertility.
“I didn’t accept it immediately. I was in denial. I didn’t believe the doctor knew what she was talking about and I felt like I could work it out myself. So, I didn’t share it with anyone – I didn’t even tell my parents because for some reason I felt like it would burden them. That day, on my 25th birthday, an eight-year journey of infertility started.”
And as you’d imagine, those eight years were filled with emotions, challenges, questions and great disappointment.
“There were a lot of tests, a lot of procedures and a lot of questions. Throughout this journey was when our faith had to become more real than ever. The world of infertility can be so full of despair and hopelessness and it took me six years to come to terms with it personally before I could share it publicly. I had to become solid enough in my identity as a woman loved by God, regardless of whether or not I would have children one day, before I could share it.”
And as DC began to accept her circumstances and as she became more and more rooted in her identity as a child, loved by and secured in God, she began to see purpose within the pain she was facing .
“I was one of the speakers at Colour Conference in 2015, and just before I had done a procedure to help me fall pregnant. I thought that I would be able to announce that I was pregnant at Colour – but again, the tests came back and nothing had changed. I certainly wasn’t planning on sharing my story after that – especially not from the pulpit. I decided I was just going to keep silent, however I felt like God was asking me to do the complete opposite and to share my story. So, for the first time, I shared it and I never could have dreamed that so many women would respond. Right there was when I realised the strength that comes from being vulnerable – vulnerability, although difficult, reminds you that you are not alone. It opens you up to learn from others and to encourage one another. It moves you forward together and that is its power.”
By allowing others into her world by exposing her heart, DC found a freedom and a strength like never before.
“You need your best friends. You need your family. You need people who are going to speak life over you – people who will be there for you and in your corner. You need community who will help you through your fears and walk your journey with you. But, you also need to treat your ‘wound’ in a way that is good for you. I had to let my wound turn to a scar before I could share it publicly. Before I had my miracle, I needed to be able to say, ‘God, whether or not I ever hold my own baby, I am complete in You’.”
Knowing and declaring her wholeness in God also meant that she had to wage war on fear and take her stance in faith.
“Fear is so vicious. It will isolate us and makes us believe things that aren’t real. And it can creep in anywhere – I would be at a baby shower and start worrying that people would stare at me or worse – pity me and ask questions I didn’t want to answer! If your path is driven by fear, it’s not the right path for you. That fear will keep you from celebrating important moments that prevent you from celebrating the life and the love around you. An important moment for me was at Colour about three years ago – there was a moment where we prayed for the women on either side of us. I didn’t know the woman next to me but as she prayed for me, she began to prophesy. She said that she saw and believed that one day I was going to travel the world preaching the Gospel, with a baby in one hand and a Bible in the other. My heart leapt because that gave me a picture of what could be. And I’ve carried that picture in my heart every day since. Although we can never really know what the future will hold, I believe that as we entrust God in the present moment, He will always be more than enough.”
So, from fear to faith and strength to strength, DC had her son Wyatt Wesley Wilkerson in 2018. In faith, she climbed her eight-year mountain and in faith, she gives God the glory for her miracle baby boy – Wyatt The Brave (as she and Rich call him.)
“Faith is needed every step of the journey. You need faith instead of fear as you entrust your life to God. And that’s what community is all about. It provides an atmosphere of faith for whatever situation you are facing. You walk through your journey knowing that God is able and in control and that His plan is always so much bigger than ours. I wouldn’t exchange the last eight years for anything because through them, I found who I am, in finding who God is – consistent, faithful, loving and compassionate. Always. He really is the God of love.”