Lately, we have had many friends going through many hard things, walking roads that are too long with loads that are too big to carry. I've been thinking a lot about Romans 8:28, which says, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose" (NIV.) And here is what I've been thinking: all of these years I've thought and probably been told that God will work things out for good for ME. I've centered this Scripture on myself. But what if, WHAT IF, this is more about God working things out for good for the good of US, for all of us who believe or have come before us and believed and who do not yet believe and who will believe in the future? What if my pain, sorrow, grief, and suffering is to somehow be used for the good of someone else? I don't mean that they profit from it or take some sort of sadistic joy in it or anything. I think what I mean could be more of a "butterfly effect," wherein God sees the OVERALL picture of all time and all people and sees how things will interact and what cause and effect they will have in the grand scheme of things and works things out for good in that sense; or what I mean could be that He uses it ALL for good.
My thoughts here have centered on this idea of the good of US, though, rather than the good of ME. If God is working things out for good for US, is my heart ready for that?
I wrote the two paragraphs above some time ago; maybe a year, maybe longer. And today, realizing it was National Infertility Awareness Week, I came back to this neglected space to perhaps write something. When I did, I found the above, bringing to mind all the thoughts and emotions and prayers that have been swirling about in my head.
We're often asked questions like, "Will you adopt?" "What have you tried?" "Do you know what's wrong?" I often try to answer: "I don't know." "Well, we've tried what people 'usually' try when they want to have a baby." and "Yes, what the doctors told us, we know."
Almost ten years into marriage, nine years into trying to have a baby, and incredibly close to forty years of living, here is what I've learned about infertility:
There is no "right" way to handle it. I have friends who have adopted and had no biological children of their own. I have friends who have multiple biological children of their own and none who are adopted. I have friends who have a combination of adopted and biological children. I have friends who have conceived through IUI, in-vitro, and through the "good, old-fashioned" method. I have friends who have no children of their own. I have friends with one-year-olds, friends who are pregnant, and friends with grown children/grandchildren. Every single one of them has a journey and a story to tell. It may be happy, it may be heartbreaking; but it is there. Listen to it. Listen to them, to where they're coming from and where they hope to go. And if where they hope to go changes quickly or often, have grace and love them through it. That will mean more than anything else.
Children are a blessing. For a long time, I thought (and, truth be told, sometimes still do,) that I've done something wrong, that I am not "good enough" for the blessing of children. You know what? No matter what I think or feel, children are still a blessing. My nephew is a blessing when he asks for his uncle and my heart soars because I know how much the little guy loves my husband. My niece is a blessing when I get a phone call from my brother (like today!) telling me how much she reminds me of him, and when I see her using chopsticks on her birthday. My Goddaughter is a blessing when she eagerly tells me about her fair projects and asks me questions that I don't know the answer to. Her siblings are blessings when I get to hold them and read to them and laugh with them and empathize with them. Every child I've met is a blessing.
Maybe part of life is acceptance. This is the part where people usually want to argue. They do it with heartfelt intentions and the belief that I deserve good things. When they do it, I feel so loved and so heartsick at the same time. Loved because they want good things for me and believe I deserve them. Heartsick because I just want them to sit with me in the pain, and the joy, and the grief; for most, that proves too difficult. So hear me out, all you who love me or who just happen to be reading this: I am on a journey of acceptance.
What happens if I don't have children?
Here are just a few examples:
- I get to pour myself into my nieces and nephews and Goddaughter and loved ones. When you're a parent, you are pouring yourself into and out for your children, as you well should. If some among us do not have children, those are extra sets of hands to help lift you and yours up, to help you thrive.
- I get to look at the community around me and figure out where I can help. Sometimes that looks like a Board or a service project or an event. For me, more often than not, it looks like working long hours to be as sure as I can be that people have what they need to be successful. To be sure that parents have resources and can feed their kids and become stronger parents. To be sure that the staff I work with have the time and energy to pour into their own children and their own families. To be sure that I leave the world a little better than I found it.
- I get to experience things that many, many people do not get to experience in this way. I am carried by One so much greater than I, and I rest in that every day. Do I "feel" it every day? Nope. Do I ever have doubts? You betcha. But every day that I get out of bed, that I put one foot in front of the other, that I get to love, I thank Him for that day.
- I get to enjoy my marriage. At a conference last week, I was asked what my "spark" was. I think there are several things; one of them, which I didn't write down, is working on my marriage. It is living every day together and realizing it may always just be the two of us and knowing that just the two of us will be okay.
So, wherever you are, whoever you are; whether you're a parent or a singleton or a widow, a Christian or a Muslim or an Athiest, I hope you know the blessing of your daily joys. They are all around you. Embrace them. You deserve them.