Y’all…women have come out of the woodwork in support of us and our journey, sharing their own stories of infertility. It’s been an amazing month. It’s always an interesting situation when you DO finally start talking about infertility. The support is overwhelming and wonderful, but at the same time, talking so openly and so often in such a short time is also emotionally exhausting. I’m going to change gears with this week’s post because well I try not to live, breathe and obsess over the fact that we cannot have children. There are OTHER things going on…
I just got back from seeing the Presidential Inauguration in Washington, D.C., with students from the school I work for. It was amazing. The weather was great, the students were seriously awesome and witnessing such a historical event firsthand was something I will never forget. Whether your’re a fan of our current president or not, the day’s events ooze with undeniable, non-partisan excitement as you stand with thousands of people – remembering the sacrifices, decisions and freedom our country has enjoyed because of the leaders that have stood at that presidential podium. Our group walked for miles, visiting the National Portrait Museum, Ford’s Theatre, and monuments dedicated to Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr. The adults and kids alike “geeked” out over it all. I found myself laughing until my stomach hurt and smiling so much my face felt stuck. It was joyful.
When I came home, I jumped back into work and our daily routine…sleep, coffee/breakfast, work, workout (MAYBE), dinner, unwind (which means me watching TV and Jay preparing for the next day – b/c he’s a GREAT teacher) and repeat. We got cable awhile back and since, I find myself watching more TV than ever before. At first, I feel super guilty knowing that there are SO many other things I could do with that time…clean, organize, laundry or even read a book. But then I start thinking (read “justifying”) that I’ve had a long day of work and I just want to do something that doesn’t require a lot of thinking. The shows I watch are ones that make me laugh and laughter is a good thing, right?! But then, this week, I started reflecting on some of the recent stirrings of my heart.
I was struck by the realization that I’m generally happy. I’m happy with my sweet husband and I’m happy with my awesome job. Beyond that, it gets a little gray. I think I allow myself to escape into TV shows to avoid the reality that my heart is broken over our situation and there’s no obvious end in sight. Whether or not I say it out loud, I now realize that my disappointment that we don’t have children has reared its ugly head whether I admit it or not. I am disappointed with myself…not in a total self-hatred/self-deprecating kind of way, but in a disappointed that I’m not happy/content kind of way. If you know me at all, you know that saying or acknowledging that sadness and disappointment TOTALLY goes against my annoyingly positive “glass half-full” mentality that I normally function within.
How can you find happiness when you’re in a situation you cannot control and cannot see how it will all end?
I’m comforted by the raw words of one of my favorite writers, Anne Lamott:
“…your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss…But this is also the good news…It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.”
“Your problem is how you are going to spend this one and precious life you have been issued. Whether you’re going to spend it trying to look good and creating the illusion that you have power over circumstances, or whether you are going to taste it, enjoy it and find out the truth about who you are.”
“Hope is not about proving anything. It’s about choosing to believe this one thing, that love is bigger than any grim, bleak shit anyone can throw at us.”
Love is bigger. Our lives are not designed to be scripted and plagued by to-do lists, expectations or planning for every possible situation. Our value and worth is NOT based on what we do or how we perform. God created me, he created you…he CHOSE for us to exist. Our worth is in THAT, not what we do. God and his ways, his plans, are NOT ours to figure out. Instead, there is supposed to be freedom in not knowing, not having to worry about the details, knowing and believing that God’s plans are not all a big game to keep things from you or make you suffer for no reason.
My pastor, Jonathan Martin, once talked about bare hope and how we often get stuck because we expect God to deliver us in ways that we try to predict or anticipate. God is our deliverer, but his methods are not supposed to be calculated or figured out by us.
Happiness or joy, rather, CAN exist in this season of waiting. It shows up when we are able to shift our focus away from the pain onto the beauty that somehow mysteriously co-exists the circumstances we cannot change. It’s not until we can give over the pain & confusion and release the heartache and misunderstanding from our tightly clamped fists that we are free to be moved, to be blessed, to be changed and to see the beauty around us.
“Happiness is neither virtue nor pleasure, nor this thing nor that, but simply growth. We are happy when we are growing.” – W.B. Yeats
There is truth in the widely over-used metaphor of the mountains and the valleys in life. Valleys are lush with nutrients and growth. In the low points of our lives, the valleys if you will, things may seem unmanageable or without reason, but those are the times that we can really grow. It’s when we come to the end of ourselves that we can begin to see God and how he’s been there all along.
Watching TV is my escape from the reality that Jay and I are in this valley and by not “being present”, I am avoiding the growth that is supposed to be taking place. It’s time to unclinch my fists and let go and let love do its thing.
Another word from Anne and I’ll leave you with this:
“I think joy and sweetness and affection are a spiritual path. We’re here to know God, to love and serve God, and to be blown away by the beauty and miracle of nature. You just have to get rid of so much baggage to be light enough to dance, to sing, to play…”
but more so this:
“Clutter and mess show us that life is being lived…Tidiness makes me think of held breath, of suspended animation… Perfectionism is a mean, frozen form of idealism, while messes are the artist’s true friend. What people somehow forgot to mention when we were children was that we need to make messes in order to find out who we are and why we are here.”
I think we could all use a little pep talk:)