i'm walkin through an advent series right now... read some Scripture, read the author's poetic take on said Scripture, reflect on both through a couple of questions at the end. i love questions - i love asking them, and i love answerin them, so this is good for me. one of the questions this week was, "when have you seen God take what was torn and turn it into a gift?" (voskamp, 2013, p. 83...probably not the correct form of citation, but apa has served me well the last four years).
i read the question and immediately thought of a few friends.... those whose lives have been struck by ridiculous illness...but rather than gettin stuck with their families lives bein defined by those illnesses, the illnesses seem to be serving some sort of more beautiful purpose...to turn strong men tender, to turn sure people gentle, to turn stories of grief and labor into stories of profound faithfulness. i'm 32 years old now, and when i have these moments of recognizing the stories around me, i'm often struck...i find it hard to believe that i'm old enough to know people who struggle and fight and grieve and suffer like this....through illness and divorce and abuse and death and loss.
it's easy for me to get stuck here, in the suffering and in the struggle. it's where i lived for years in the realm of infertility. and it made me angry. really angry. i felt bombarded by the injustice of of it all... how could i, of all people, not be able to have a baby? i actually had someone tell me once that i was "the all-american girl," so what was there about me (or my handsome, smart, tender, big and strong husband, for that matter) that deemed us unfit to conceive? and this self-righteousness was inflammed every time someone else became pregnant or delivered a baby or nursed an infant...
the adoption process inflammed the anger, too. although my logical mind understood the reasoned purpose which drove so many facets of the adoption process (i.e. homestudy, cost, legal aspects, strangers delving into our most personal matters), logic didn't make it any easier. of all people - rich and poor, active and sedentary, urban and rural, broken and whole, educated and illiterate - only people who choose to adopt are required to take such profound inventory of their lives and relationships, turn back pretty and ugly corners alike, and bear all to a group of strangers (a.k.a. the adoption agency) in order to be measured and found fit-to-be-parents...and that's before the tumult that can follow bein matched with a birthmother!
even the word "choose" there inflammed the anger and the hurt. we weren't choosing to adopt out of the benevolence of our hearts or the abundance of our lives or b/c we felt divinely called. we were "choosing" to adopt b/c we longed for children we couldn't naturally create, and we flat out didn't have the money to pursue fertility treatments and then have enough reserve to adopt if the medical world didn't fix us. we didn't feel like we were choosing as much as we felt backed into a corner with only one realistic way out - adoption.
i was sad and heart-broken, but those two emotions make me really uncomfortable. they have a connotation related to weakness. anger made me feel better. it made me feel less weak and less out of control. it gave me somethin to clench in my fists when all else felt like sand runnin through my fingers. it gave me a way to emotionally bull-doze my way through a situation i wasn't at all happy about. anger gave me a way to avoid the sadness.
i've grown up in the church and done all-things-God for as long as i can remember, and yet during this time of loss, all the things that were supposed to help and comfort weren't doin the trick. it didn't soothe any place to "trust that everything happens for a reason" or to hold to the belief that "God has a plan." even those exhortations felt like invitations to avoid the sadness. tossin romans 8 and jeremiah 29 into a chasm of confusion and hurt didn't help...it seemed more like tryin to swing on Scriptural ropes across the chasm rather than walking through it one small, treacherous step at a time.
i can't really say for sure what happened, what changed between then and now. i didn't have one singular moment in time when the momentum slowed and then shifted away from anger. i didn't wake up one day and see the world from a different perspective. it was more like a series of moments, a string of countless decisions and subtle realizations that i didn't want to live angry. i didn't want to be an angry mother (or wife or friend or daughter or neighbor or....). the only way out of anger seemed to be a journey through the depths of sadness.
so i started learnin how to be sad... how to be sad about living my life with an empty womb...
avoiding the uncomfortable has never proven helpful for me... it's led to anger, depression, and life hurled toward blame. for me, the uncomfortable here is inextricably related to sorrow. so it came as a surprise to me a few weeks ago during our homestudy when the social worker asked us somethin to the effect of, "tell me about your journey through infertility and healing from that." healing? i don't feel healed. i'm certainly not physically "healed" of whatever keeps me from carrying a little life inside. i don't feel emotionally "healed" either...
but maybe that's b/c my definition of "healed" isn't a whole one. because the thing that surprised me when the social worker asked that question was the answer that came out of my mouth. "i think i'm learning to accept that i may never have a baby that we create. i may be sad about that for the rest of my life. but i'm learnin to be okay w/that. and i'm not angry about it anymore."
i'm not angry about it anymore. do you know how big of a deal that is?
that doesn't mean that i'm blindly trusting that "everything happens for a reason" or that "God is in control" in the ways i've always understood those things...b/c even now, even though i'm not seething anger, those claims don't quite settle the dust.
what i am beginnin to believe wholeheartedly is that The Lord is Good, through and through. that He may not move the mountains of circumstance around me, but He continually offers to move mountains of anger, hurt, and unbelief in me. that in the really crappy context of infertility, He gives the most beautiful gifts. w/o infertility, we wouldn't know our riley bear. and i cannot imagine my life without her.