Friday, June 14, 2013

"Mourning What Hasn't Happened"

Her cheeks are chubby and full, cherub-like even, her eyes are blue like mine, her fine baby hair a brown that doesn’t belong to me at all, smelling sweet and strong and fresh filling my lungs and dizzying my brain. Little arms cling to my neck in a death grip as a cry splits the air around me, piercing ears and bouncing off white walls and wide windows, echoing down hallways. Such a loud noise from such a tiny being, such strength in such little arms…

It’s a dream but it’s all too real. Smell, touch, sound coming through so painfully clear that when I blink awake it physically hurts. Despite the cries and wriggles and whines, despite the knowledge of the difficulty of a child, my heart longs for one. Muscles clench in the center of my body, the emptiness there a constant reminder of what hasn’t yet happened, of what may never come to pass. The years slip by. Thirty approaches quickly with mounting thoughts of infertility, of barrenness, of bitterness. Girls I once counseled in their youth get engaged and married and begin to have children of their own. My parents don’t say anything but I see the longing in their eyes as well, the longing to be grand parents, to see their line extended.
It’s not fair. Why would you give those people children and not me?

The lies are often hard to ignore… "You’re being punished." "You’re too picky." "You don’t deserve children." "God doesn’t care…" But the comfort offered by others sometimes seems trite, uncaring, unsympathetic… "A friend of mine just had her first child at forty." "There’s always adoption." "Kids are hard, be happy you have your freedom…enjoy it while you can." I don’t want to be forty when I have my first child. I want to adopt but I still want my own. I know kids are hard…that doesn’t change anything.

A good friend read an article out loud for a group of our friends that talked about allowing ourselves to mourn our singleness, our childlessness…for the life of me I can’t remember the author but the impact those words had on me are significant. It gave me permission to mourn this thing I have not (yet) been given, to not feel guilty for being sad in circumstantial barrenness. But it did not leave me there. It also challenged me to continue combatting the lies with truth, to not let this sadness drag my soul into bitterness, to rejoice in the Lord always as He commands us to do in scripture (Philippians 8:4).

It still sucks. I still dream, quite literally and painfully, of children; of their messes and laughter, of their tears and failures, of first steps and first days of school…I still shed tears sometimes when I wonder whether this joy is in my future or nothing more than a hopeful dream. But I can allow myself to mourn, and I can run into my Father’s arms for comfort and assurance, and I can remind myself that He is faithful even amidst painful circumstances.

Philippians 4:11b-13
I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

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