"My peace I give to you," says Jesus in John 14:27. And He really does.
Many people have shared obvious observations about life with me over the years when I wasn’t yet ready to hear them.
“It could be worse.”
“Count your blessings.”
“You love to sleep in. You hate noise.”
“Think of all the things you can do because you don’t have kids.”
These are all true statements, and they were true several years ago when I would get upset by them as well. What’s changed? My perspective. But it’s important to note that this is not something that you, as a well-meaning friend or relative, can bring about in someone who isn’t there yet.
Many people are familiar with the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bartering, sadness, and acceptance. But many people do not automatically think to consider infertility as something that would qualify as a life event that would spark the grief process. Yet it does.
Events that may set the grief process in motion include divorce, migration, loss of job, infertility. The death of a loved one seems to be a universal experience, whereas these other life events are not. Maybe that’s why people who have never experienced them find it difficult to understand that they also mark the end of something one has grown attached to.
Telling someone who has just lost a loved one that “at least they’re not suffering anymore” might be better left unsaid for someone whose heart has just been wounded by their loss. It doesn’t matter if the comment is true or well-meaning. The best thing to do when around someone who is grieving is to be quiet, but be there, and listen if they want to pour their heart out to you. You do not need to try to fix this for them because you can’t.
It would seem that I have arrived at the final stage of grieving our infertility, acceptance. It sort of snuck up on me. For five years, I put my life on hold and made decisions based on the assumption that just around the corner, our forever child would show up. It sucked the life out of me. I didn’t look forward to anything other than becoming a mother.
I didn’t go through the stages of grief in order. In fact, I was still bartering with God last summer, as I sought solutions in desperation in a renewed state of denial! Every time I came across a parent not living up to my expectations of what a parent ought to be, I experienced anger. Sadness crept up every time we hit another disappointment.
I assumed that the only way our infertility would be resolved, the only way that it COULD be resolved, is if/when we finally became parents. But now I know parenting and resolution of infertility are not necessarily related.
I’ve met parents who nevertheless continue to grieve the fact that it isn’t as easy for them to conceive as it ought to be, or who didn’t start to experience infertility until after they had their first child without any trouble. I’ve also met folks who never did have children yet found a way to embrace the life God gave them anyway. The more I think about it, the more I find myself in this second category. Maybe I will be a mother, maybe not. But I’m already “complete”. I’m already at peace with my life as it is. I’m already joyful with the many blessings God has given me.
Today, I can say with full authenticity:
“Indeed, there ARE many things I can do that I probably couldn’t do if I had children, and I ought to enjoy them to the fullest!”
“I DO love to sleep in, and I DO hate noise, and I don’t have to feel bad for either because I don’t have children.”
“I DO have many blessings to count!”
“It COULD be a lot worse!”
There is nothing left for me to complain about. Life doesn’t always turn out the way we hope or plan. So what? God is in control. I trust Him completely.
The Lord make His face shine on you, and be gracious to you;
The Lord lift up His countenance on you, and give you peace.