Monday, September 22, 2014

"Be happy with what you have!"

Dear friends,
     I struggled for so long about whether or not to write this post. For a long while I didn't, mainly because I was angry and bitter and was afraid of saying something rude or hurtful. I'm still saddened by this phrase ('be happy with what you have'), uttered to me by so many, but I don't feel bitter or angry about it now. I realized that if I was giving out what I thought were words of encouragement that was hurting my friends, then I would want to know.

     Numerous times during our journey with infertility and loss have I been told by well meaning people that I need to just "be happy with what I have". That phrase has paralyzed me. I stopped sharing with the ones who said this to me because I was so offended, so saddened, so taken aback. Made to feel guilty for my hurt. Upset by the fact that they seemed to think that my longing for a child meant that I wasn't happy with the rest of my life. This simply isn't true. I love my husband and I cherish every moment we have together without children. I appreciate the freedom that our childless life gives us yet long for a baby in my arms at the same time. I enjoy the long bike rides, spontaneous trips, and last minute dates that not having a baby allows us, but this doesn't mean I don't want a baby. Nor does wanting a baby mean I'm not thankful for those things.

     One of the key phrases here is "well meaning". These two words have become an excuse for so many things in our society today. It's a subconscious way to justify saying something inappropriate, and yes, I've done it, too. So many hurtful things have been said to me and others with good intentions by well meaning people. Meaning well does not make this ok.

     The longing for children is a longing that God placed in our hearts. It's as natural and good as the longing for a spiritual family or church. So why is the sadness of infertility and loss something you should just get over? I would ask if someone has the answer to this but I don't believe there is one, because it's not true.

     Take Hannah from the book of Samuel for example. She was a devout and godly woman but wasn't able to have children. She cried, went without food, bargained with God, and prayed. The bible presents her as a woman of faith who had an intense reaction to her situation. Never once does the bible shame her for how she reacted. Hannah's feelings of loss associated with infertility were normal.

     Next time you are about to say something like "be content", "be happy with what you have", "enjoy the time you have alone together", I encourage you to consider Hannah. Ask yourself if you truly believe that the person you're speaking to doesn't appreciate their spouse or the life they've been given. Are they not allowed to grieve the children they don't and may never have?

     Another interesting thing about this phrase is that it has only been said to me by people who have children. Never once did someone who had gone through infertility or loss say this to me.

     The pain of infertility is not always a deep, dark hole you find yourself thrust in to and unable to climb out of. Sometimes it's a small, subtle ache that doesn't go away. It's not always so bad as to keep you from functioning or enjoying parts of life, but it's always there, and you never forget.

     Know that it's ok to be happy with what you have while mourning what you don't.

"Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep."
Romans 12:15