I work in the city at an elementary school filled with beautiful little faces, most of which are Hispanic. I remember when I got my job. Alex and I were in Florida visiting my family and since I could not make it to the school for an interview in person I ended up having a phone interview. Needless to say I was surprised when I got offered the job that same day.
I remember walking in the school my first day on the job and seeing all the cuties. I knew I was going to love it! And though at times this can be a demanding job it is also so rewarding, specially, when I get little notes like this one left on my desk:
But, let me be honest, often times, the hardest part of the job is dealing with the parents (okay, and some coworkers here and there). But every time I’m given an attitude, get yelled at or cursed by a parent or have to deal with social services because of one of these ‘responsible & mature’ parents I get a little annoyed. And it is then that I ask myself: “why are they even allowed to be parents? Why…?”
Yeah, yeah, a Why? question…again. Is not often that I find myself asking the question Why? but at times the necessity to find some type of understanding behind God’s reasoning in this matter finds an opportunity to creep a thought of doubt into all the compartments of my brain. Even though theologically I may know the answer, in my heart I often don’t. Let me tell you why these thoughts are so persistent. You see, the moment an ounce of doubt creeps in, discouragement follows, which can be followed by depression, which can then turn into resentment and later filled with disappointment, anger, disbelief, etc, etc, etc. This is a roller coaster that not only you and I, who are dealing with infertility, are often invited to jump into. If you my friend are breathing then be assured that you will often be invited to jump into this ride as well.
Little reminders or thoughts about my infertility journey come at random times. Like the time Alex was walking in front of me as my little niece was holding his hand…
Or the times when Alex or I hold one of our friends’ precious children…specially babies. Sometimes it’s as random as walking past the baby isle at Target and seeing all the cute little outfits that at this moment I haven’t gotten to buy. If you deal with infertility I know you’ve had these kinds of thoughts yourself and they can be painful, very painful but what we most often don’t like to acknowledge is that they can be damaging, very damaging. For some, these thoughts and doubts can be but a fleeting moment. However, for others, these little creepers can dwell inside of them for as long as they continue to feel that they’ve been cheated by the cycle of life.
So lets go back to that question in part 1 of my story: “Will you still hold to your faith in the face of tragedy?”
Here’s the thing. As a person of faith, I most often cringe at the fact that some people actually think we shouldn’t have these types of feelings. That if you do, your faith is weak, your understanding of God is shallow and your trust in Him is unstable. But please hear me when I say that’s not the case. We are merely humans and God himself intricately wired us with you guessed it, feelings. And feelings come intertwined with all kinds of emotions and thoughts. Feelings of happiness are not the only ones God knew we would feel while on this earth. Jesus wept, Jesus got angry when He saw the misuse of the temple, and He also got frustrated at the disciples when he found them asleep, “could you not stay awake with me for one hour?” God knows we will at one point express all these kinds of feelings.
But see, the key does not lie in the fact that at times it is okay for me to express these feelings or the fact that these thoughts and doubts often come knocking at the front lobe of my brain and I quickly rush to open the door to welcome them in with English tea in hand (cause that’s what you do when you marry a Brit). No. The key lies in how much control I will authorize these feelings, doubts, and thoughts to have over my life. Yes, I said authorize because these little unwanted creepers can only make their stay if I give them my permission; if I hand them the keys of control.
This is where the dividing line becomes so evident in the outcomes of our hardships and tragedies. It is at this line where many who have walked the same journey of pain, disappointment and hurt will part ways and say their goodbyes. At this line we all are asked to choose which way to go.
I’ve been there. I’ve been given the ultimatum by my Mr. Hardship, “Hey, you, lady, I’m getting tired of going back and forth. I want to stay. I want to make my dwelling in that little brain of yours. I come filled with doubt, fears, anger, disappointment, resentment, hurt, unbelief. But it’s either Ms. Joy over there or me. Can’t have us both. Make up your mind lady!”
I’ve failed to mention that Alex and I planted a church 3 ½ years ago. Yes, and for those not familiar with what that means, we basically started the church from scratch. So all of these feelings and questions regarding our infertility journey were happening while I was being a ‘Pastor’s wife’, while leading songs that talked about the hope we have in God, while teaching our kiddos at church about God’s love, while praying for others to receive blessings and seeing them get their blessings, while encouraging, comforting and crying with others as they went through their own trials, and while solving the problems and sometimes messy situations that inevitably come with leading imperfect humans like myself.
The day after we got the “I’m sorry” call we had to pick ourselves up and keep going, resolving situations at church and at our jobs because lets be honest, life moves on. We may not want it to, we may not feel like it, but the reality is that time is a snob and won’t stop for anyone. The very next day, Alex had to get up early to work on his sermon for the upcoming Sunday. That next day I received a phone call from a church member who was going through a tough time in life and needed some encouragement. And as you seat there reading this, perhaps you may be thinking that we should have given ourselves a break. But see, the fact is, THAT is what saved us. In the midst of doing for others we were forced to stop staring at our own little world of tragedy. And in the midst of giving to others we found that our lives have been bestowed with more than just this lot in life. It is then that it became real to me that the absence of one blessing doesn’t decimate the existence of other blessings.
I still haven’t received the blessing of being a mommy. I still haven’t been able to buy cute little baby outfits for my own child or gotten decorate a nursery. And to this day, I still don’t know if I will ever be able to. No, it’s not that I lack in faith, it’s simply that I’m not the giver of life so this fate doesn’t rest in my hands.
CS Lewis once said: “When we lose one blessing, another is often most unexpectedly given in its place”. I’ve found that these unexpected blessings are most often missed by many because we are too busy staring down at our own tragedy. I myself have probably missed a few along the way but as I sit here finishing part 2 of my story I’m looking away and I can clearly see that I’ve been given many blessings along the way. You have too my friend. Stop staring down, look away and see what’s out there.