As promised, rather than share more events, this post is dedicated to sharing the inner thoughts of a lifetime member of the Infertility Club. When I joined, there was no Internet, we could not google things, and there were no blogs. If there were-you can bet I would be reading this type of post. As it was, we could buy books on infertility, or talk face to face with others club members. Both were rather painful ways to deal with such private pain. Here’s why:
If I choose to purchase infertility books-which back in 1980 would often mean going to a book store, you had to browse the infertility section, which was part of the baby section. How hard would it be to move those books away from titles such as “Yeah! You’re Pregnant!” and “Top Baby Names of 1980”? Seriously. But this is often how it goes; you are considered part of the Baby group-but you are in the special section called Cannot Conceive. So you browse the infertility books while glancing hopefully at the Can/Did Conceive titles. You tell yourself that one day you will be buying those books, but you don’t really believe it. It is just a little lie that you tell yourself so that you can keep your cool while out in public. Next you have to move around the pregnant moms and stroller set to the cashier with your infertility book(s) in hand. You get a pitied look from the female salesclerks, and you pray that they won’t tell you about someone in their family who also could not conceive. You really don’t want to be singled out at all-you just want to buy your book, drive home without crying, and then tear into it when you are alone, looking for some solace from the more experienced.
Sometimes you find the solace you were looking for if you can find a kindred spirit. For me, I cannot recall any particular baby book authors who gave that to me. Most of the time the stories ended with a pregnancy or adoption, and were often sprinkled with lots of Bible verses about trusting God. I hesitated to write that last part, because I ended up adopting three children, (and lost one as future posts will show), and I do believe in trusting God. I have even been known to share Bible verses about trust with those who are hurting. (One book that did comfort me, was Hannah Hurnard’s exquisite allegory, Hinds Feet on High Places. I would write notes and date them as I slowly read this wonderful book, and years later when I would read this same book to my kids at bedtime, they would often say “Mama, why are you crying? Keep reading! We want to know what happens.)
Face to face sharing with fellow UMIF (Unwilling Members of the Infertility Club) is not that helpful either. I mean how can meeting with other completely sad women who are equally discouraged help one to keep going? And as one by one they get pregnant, or adopt, you feel sad when you know you should feel happy. You realize what a selfish friend you really are, and how once again, the outward behavior does not match the inner thinking. It is just such a confusing bag of emotions. You know that losing your authenticity robs you of your personhood, but you also know that being honest makes you a difficult person to be around. So you try your best to be…presentably pleasant. You repeat the trusting God phrases that all believers share, and you try very hard to believe in them. You often feel like a phony, but a sad phony, not a proud or sneaky one. Your phoniness is that of a bent over, weeping mourner, whose exterior must seem content and peaceful. Now you see why I must write these things rather than speak about them. I think it doesn’t hurt to share them now, but as I write them even now, why am I crying? Silly, stupid tears… or perhaps paved over emotions that are now allowed to see the light of day.
My personal metaphor to explain such sorrow and such feeling of being passed over was a Christmas gift scenario. I was a small child who had asked for a bike at Christmas, only to be forgotten each year, and have to watch all my siblings one by one get not just one bike, but often several. I had to be happy for them, and a tiny part of me was, but I also had to listen to their whining when they felt like they had too many bikes, or had gotten the wrong style or color. In my head, it went something like this:
Hey! Over here! Um… I hate to be a bother but You seemed to have overlooked me! See-I have no bike at all yet,–none-zero. I am sure this is just an oversight, but do You think You could get this straightened out before NEXT Christmas? I mean I am happy for the others; You surely have seen how I have tried to share in their joy? And You also must know that I have tried to be patient, but come on! I have my limits! You surely cannot expect me to blindly trust forever do You?
And then the entire scene is replayed each Christmas for a few long years.
So, when books or bookstore visits are not helpful, you don’t have blogs, and face to face encounters are uncomfortable for either you or your friends, where do you go for help?
To the Psalms of course. To the goodness of God. To timeless truth which does not need to be validated in a minute by minute sense, but which takes the long view of God and His goodness. Read with me if you like:
A Psalm Of David.
1 The LORD is my light and my salvation—
whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid?
2 When the wicked advance against me
to devour[a] me,
it is my enemies and my foes
who will stumble and fall.
3 Though an army besiege me,
my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
even then I will be confident.
4 One thing I ask from the LORD,
this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the LORD
and to seek him in his temple.
5 For in the day of trouble
he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent
and set me high upon a rock.
6 Then my head will be exalted
above the enemies who surround me;
at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make music to the LORD.
7 Hear my voice when I call, LORD;
be merciful to me and answer me.
8 My heart says of you, “Seek his face!”
Your face, LORD, I will seek.
9 Do not hide your face from me,
do not turn your servant away in anger;
you have been my helper.
Do not reject me or forsake me,
God my Savior.
10 Though my father and mother forsake me,
the LORD will receive me.
11 Teach me your way, LORD;
lead me in a straight path
because of my oppressors.
12 Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes,
for false witnesses rise up against me,
spouting malicious accusations.
13 I remain confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living.
14 Wait for the LORD;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the LORD.
Don’t think I have learned this–I learned it, and am still learning it. And God help me if I ever stop learning it. Sigh…smile…more to come.