the best and the worst
there is so much i want to say right now, but i have no idea how to formulate words. i was reminded this past weekend of the joys and heartaches that come with christmas.
this year is an especially joyous occasion for our little family since it's keane's first christmas, but there are so many people who are hurting.
the christmas season really is both the best and the worst. it brings out both in people. it reminds individuals and families of both the things and the people they have to celebrate, and that which has been lost, or which they never had at all.
we tend to get this picture in our minds of how things should be. christmas brings idealistic thoughts with it. we get nostalgic for things in the past - when life was easier. but it's really easy to look back over history with rose colored glasses. [in fact, if memory serves me correctly, studies have shown that we remember the good parts of experiences better than the bad parts, so "the good old days" seem better in retrospect. hence, we call them the good old days.]
this past sunday we talked about zechariah and elizabeth and talking about elizabeth's barrenness brought back a whole wave of emotions.
i know we don't live in a culture where people judge God's favor on your life based on whether or not you have children, but to me, struggling with infertility still felt shameful. it still made me feel like i was somehow less of a woman, less of a person.
people don't really talk about it. it's assumed that women can have babies. period.
this is obvious given the questions people ask. once they find out how long you've been married the immediate next question is: when are you going to have kids?
and so often in the midst of those questions i felt like hannah. pleading with God for a child. and the Lord was gracious and answered my prayer, but that doesn't always happen. and for over three years, it didn't happen. we went with more questions than answers, and more heartache than i thought i could bear.
don't get me wrong, keane was worth the wait, and i'm not discounting the fact that our prayer was answered. i'm beyond grateful for our little boy.
the thing is though, infertility shouldn't be shameful. but it's so hard to talk about. it's rife with emotion, full of roller-coaster rides, hope and dejected sorrow. but it shouldn't be shameful.
since the beginning of our experience with this over four years ago, we've learned a lot about infertility. we've also learned a lot about how common it is. how common miscarriages are. how many people have lost a child or children, or struggled to have a baby.
there are so many people out there, yet we generally don't talk about it. not until the end. not until it's over one way or another.
we talk about it once we have a child - either through pregnancy or adoption, or it is discovered through some test or another that conceiving and carrying a child would be an utter miracle due to some health issue. or once a woman is past child-bearing age. but the women who will stand up in the midst of it, and say it's a struggle for her and her husband are few and far between.
but it shouldn't be that way.
i'm not suggesting i should have responded to each and every person who asked me when we were going to have kids by angrily throwing it back in their face. just as everyone you come across is not privy to hear about how you're really doing just because they pose the question "how are you?"
the point is, sometimes it's hard to be totally honest about what you're feeling, and what you're going through, because we do live in a culture that glorifies "having it all together". breaking down into tears when someone asks you how you're doing, or crying in response to the "when are you going to have kids?" question, are both frowned upon.
christmas is a hard time for a lot of people. and matt's message last week was a good reminder to me that we don't know what other people are going through. a lot of people are hurting.
it was also a good reminder that despite whatever situations we are in, God can use them. God can use anything and everything we're experiencing because it's his story. he wrote it, and he is the main character, and he lets us take part in it.
but even with that, he doesn't forget us, even when it feels that way. he hasn't forgotten us. he didn't forget zechariah and elizabeth. he didn't forget peter and me. he hasn't forgotten anyone. even though it feels like it sometimes. even when life doesn't make sense.
we are part of a bigger story. and while many many things happen in this world that do not make sense, God will reveal it all to us one day.
one day when everything sad becomes untrue. when he wipes away every tear from our eyes. when there is no crying, no hurt, no pain.
i know i need to pay more attention to the lives of those around me, and not be so caught up in the last few things i need to take care of to celebrate christmas. just as i know i need to realize that many things will not make sense in the moment. and knowing that God is in control won't make them hurt less in the moment, but knowing that does allow us to grieve not like those who have no hope. knowing that does allow the peace of God to permeate through the difficult things, and to hold on to God with both hands.
no matter who you are, where you are in life, or what you're going through, i pray that God speaks to your heart this christmas season.