This post is for you. This post is for those yet-to-be-celebrated, those still longing for a child of their own, those who will cringe this weekend and wear fake smiles while aching with envy and grief inside.
Here is an excerpt from a another project I wrote where I relive those moments of jealousy, rage, and confusion. It's okay to feel those things. It's normal. And I'm praying that God's timing will bring you the greatest source of comfort and joy you've ever known...
It’s a cruel joke and no exaggeration to say that when you finally decide wholeheartedly to pursue something, you start to see it everywhere. The entire world seemed pregnant except for me. Anywhere I turned I ran into strollers, bumped into babies, and knocked into protruding pregnant bellies. It was like, in all my effort to conceive, I had somehow developed a special radar system to be able to spot a baby bump from a mile away. Strangers, neighbors and close friends were all popping up pregnant, month after month. Some were surprises, some had been a long time coming, but all were announced with explosive enthusiasm in a grand spectacle just short of a small-town parade. At least, that is exactly how it felt to me.
With each new pregnancy that was announced, I felt like one more of my own eggs just dried up inside me. She won this month and I lost again. She gets a baby, I don’t. She has new life in her, and I’m harboring nothing but envy.
I distinctly recall one day that I was walking to my car to go home after work. It had been a particularly exhausting day and all I wanted was to curl up on my couch with a jar of peanut butter, a spoon, and a rerun of Frasier (my “go to” tv-therapy) when I spotted her: a beautifully pregnant stranger, belly in full blossom, waddling to her car in all her knocked-up glory. I had never met her and didn’t recognize her at all. Poor soul was probably some lovely wife of a faculty member who most likely taught a Bible class of sorts, I’m sure. Nevertheless, lovely as she was, I couldn’t take it anymore. Salt water started to well up in my eyes, rage clenched the air from my throat, bitterness crippled my hands into useless claws, and in one purely horrific moment of self, I silently spewed the only words that felt familiar to me in that moment: I hate you.
I felt like my entire insides had rotted out and failed me to the core. All my joy and hope in conceiving the next great miracle from God had been replaced by ugly, controlling selfishness, anger and jealousy. Of course, I didn’t really hate her. I didn’t even know the sweet gal, bless her heart, who was surely gestating what I can only imagine to be the next Billy Graham in her bulging belly. I’m so sorry, dear woman, for pegging you as my target for hatred that day. But, you should know, it was not in vain.
That moment of disgusting self-loathing opened my eyes to a vital understanding: I had no control. This sounds simple. This sounds like something as obvious as gravity. But, like gravity, sometimes it takes an apple (or in my case, a pregnant-lady-encounter) hitting you in the head to accept it as reality and see how it really applies to your life.
I had been living in the illusion of control. Counting days, charting numbers, calculating possibilities and conjuring up multiple justifications for each and every potential scenario that could present itself. I couldn’t help but feel like if I could just figure out what I had done or not done in the month prior, then I could fix it and find myself pregnant in the next round. My head new that it was by God’s hand alone that a baby would be created, but my heart’s habits died hard. My heart knew what it longed for, what was at stake, and what was being risked each month: The possibility that I might not get what I wanted most.
It wasn’t necessarily that my actions had to change, but my perception of what I was pursuing and how it so deeply affected me on a daily basis needed a major adjustment. I had delicately fallen into a trap of thinking that if I did A + B, then naturally, C will occur. Because that’s how it “should” go. Because that’s “normal”. Because that’s what I “deserve”.
And then it hit me. I wasn’t just questioning my emotions here…I was questioning God. The illusion of control had led me along a path where I was left staring down an unknown road with a pretend map I had drawn with a broken compass. What if I’m never pregnant? What if I don’t get the future I want? Which, if we are really being honest here, is essentially asking the real question: Do I believe God is truly good?
That might be hard to admit. Questioning God’s goodness sounds like a huge leap from asking Him when I can start registering for bottles and bassinets. But, if the goodness of my future hinged on the notion that I bore a child or not, and I believed that God only wanted what was good and best for my future, then I couldn’t have it both ways. Was I really choosing between having a baby or believing God? Certainly not. I had spent too many hours praying about my desire for a family for God to ignore the request. God knew me. God loved me. God understood that this longing in my being also encompassed a pursuit of His will for my life. So, then, if God was good and it was good for me to want to become a mother…Where’s my baby?
It was time to relinquish control. This is kind of an oxymoron, really. The control was never really in my grasp to begin with. My future is mine, and it is affected by the decisions and consequences of my actions, but there comes a time when you have to face your relationship with your Creator and allow Him to function through you instead of just around you. God doesn’t “need” us, after all. He is perfect and complete and entirely capable (this would be the “omni” part of Him) without our hot-mess-of-a-human-existence meddling about in this crazy world He built. But He is a gracious God that engages with us, works through us, and allows us the incredible opportunity to lay down ourselves and pursue a plan worthy of His glory.
And so, as the saying goes, “I let go and let God” take over.
Maybe not much changed on the outside. But, on the inside, I was transformed. My prayers stopped being about ovulation and started being about peace. I stopped obsessing about my basal body temperature and started dreaming about the hopeful future of how God would shape us into parents, even if it wasn’t exactly how we thought it might go. My heart had gone from eager to rigid to numb, and was now thawing to the idea that “God’s best” was worth waiting for and my timeline was just that: mine. And I felt the raw and honest reality that truly, I wanted nothing to do with me.
If was prepping to be a parent, to take on the task of somehow raising a child of God as my very own, then certainly I was in need of much more Jesus and much less Emily with every minute He made me “wait”. This period of waiting didn’t seem unbearable like it had in the past. Sitting still in acceptance and peace, suddenly felt the most active of all the months of trying so far. It wasn’t easy. It wasn’t even fun (as terrible as it is, the futile actions I had become accustomed to while living in the illusion of control had brought me frantic joy, allowing me to think that I was actively participating in the creation of something that was beyond my efforts in reality). But, living in the moment of relinquished control brought me unfathomable relief that I hadn’t felt since before we ever had uttered the word “baby”.
I still didn’t have an answer as to why God was “making me wait”…but, I rested wholly in the security of knowing that God knew, and God’s goodness justified His reasons, and Him being God and all pretty much summed up any other questions I had for Him and His lack of sharing his Google calendar with me (assuming God uses Google). I wasn’t avoiding the stress of trying to conceive a baby…I was just giving it to God instead.