"It’s the most wonderful time of the year"…
As Kayla and I were driving to my parent’s house on Christmas morning, I realized that Christmas day is probably the most wonderful time of the year to shoot a post-apocalyptic short film because everything is closed and the streets look completely deserted. But then I realized that shooting anything on Christmas day is the worst idea because everyone was where they should be: with family where they were opening gifts, playing games, and drinking egg nog.
At dinner last night, Kayla and I spent a lot of time reflecting on this past year. We talked about what we learned, how we’ve grown, and where we’d like to go from here.
I’m writing this because one of the things I mentioned last night was that I’ve seen my desire for authenticity increase this year. I want to be more authentic to who I am and I want authentic friends who know who they are. For me, being authentic requires two things:
1. Being able to tell the difference between what is coming from my heart and mind and what is coming from outside.
2. Acting on that knowledge.
In a lot of ways, this desire was manifested during this year’s presidential race. I had so many thoughts I wanted to share that I felt were helpful and on point, but the idea of sharing these thoughts was met with incredible internal hesitation. I decided that staying silent was better than being true to my self. But, one of the things I can’t ignore is that I have a much higher chance of making an impact on those around me by being true to myself than I do by staying silent. I know that’s a revolutionary thought. You should cross-stitch that on a pillow.
So, in an attempt to be more authentic, I want to share something that has been on my heart for a few years now. First of all, please don’t think that I’m ignoring God’s blessings in my life. I’m so thankful for what God has given me, and it’s because of Him that I’m able to find hope in all circumstances.
One of my favorite memories that Kayla has shared with me about her childhood happened after a church service where Kayla was sitting in the front row, quietly rocking one of her dolls through the entire service. Afterwards, a woman in the crowd approached Kayla and said, “You’re such a good mommy to her”. Kayla was five but this story stuck with her because she wanted then, just as she does now, to be a good mom. For me, I remember holding my little brother for the first time and whispering a prayer that I would one day have a baby of my own that I could raise. I was five.
It may sound crazy but Kayla and I have wanted to be parents for as long as we can remember. Because of that, this Christmas hasn’t felt like “the most wonderful time of the year”. I’ve always tried my best to find the positive in every situation but this holiday season was simply difficult. Two years ago, Kayla and I made the decision that we were ready (as ready as you can be) to have kids. And as many of you can probably tell, we don’t have kids. For the past two years, I’ve watched my wife struggle for understanding as one month led to the next. I’ve watched her eyes light up with anticipation each time she has taken a pregnancy test, only to watch her throw it away in despair. Eventually, we stopped taking them altogether. I’ve watched her cry as she has wondered aloud whether or not it would ever happen. I took care of her this summer as she slowly recovered from the surgery that was intended to help. I listened to her struggle with how much money we spent on a surgery that hasn’t seemed to work. We’ve both shed tears. It’s as though we’ve lost someone that we’ve never even known. We live in this constant hope that maybe next month will be the last.
This struggle is one that finds little relief. Over the years, friends have announced pregnancies, thrown baby showers, and given birth. Each birth announcement that comes through the mail is met with excitement. We look at these pictures of beautiful, fragile babies and smile. We can’t help but recognize what a miracle it is to bring a new life into this world. What a miracle! When we have quiet time to ourselves, Kayla and I talk about these friends and the blessings that they have been given. We are so happy for all of them. How could we not be? But we are also human and we can’t help but wonder why it hasn’t happened for us as well. It’s a tough balance, learning to be happy for others while grieving this strange loss.
Some have offered their advice, “Maybe you should just stop trying so hard,” as if life rewards the oblivious. I’ve heard that so many times I’m beginning to wonder if it’s in Proverbs somewhere. Others suggest, “It’ll happen in God’s time,” which seems nice but it’s incredibly insensitive when said to tie the conversation up in a nice little bow. On my face these people see understanding and acceptance but that’s not the way I want to respond. There have been moments where I have received long winded dissertations on the many ways we could increase our chances of pregnancy when all I really need is someone to nod and say they’re sorry we have to be dealing with this. Thankfully, Kayla and I understand that no one intends to hurt us with their remarks. I can’t imagine being in your situation; what can you say? Sometimes there isn’t much you can say.**
In all of this, my strength has been renewed by my wife, friends who will listen, and the verse that says, “God disciplines those that He loves”. My way of finding hope in this situation has been to rely on the knowledge that there’s something important that God wants to teach Kayla and I. I’m thankful that He has entrusted us with the challenge. In many ways, I feel honored. God, in his Infinite Wisdom, looked down at us and recognized that we could endure it. So here we are.
My reason for writing this is two fold. One, I hope that those of you who have received the blessing of children realize even more what a blessing your kids are. It truly is a miracle. My hope is that God gives you even more thankfulness than you already have for His divine providence, and that you may understand better what someone in my position needs. Most of you probably have friends in similar circumstances.
Two, I hope that this can be an encouragement to those of you who may be dealing with this same issue (some of you longer than us!). It can be lonely at times but there’s no reason it should remain that way. If you need a place to talk, a place to cry, or to be angry, Kayla and I are here. My prayer is that God will give you the strength and understanding to endure this season, that He will give you peace to express joy to those around you who are blessed in ways that you aren’t, and that He will protect you from the sin of envy. I often wonder how transformed our world would become if all Christians were infertile and the only way we could become parents was by taking in all the orphans.
Thanks for taking the time to read this.
** If you want to hear more about how to handle this with someone close to you, read this article! It’s really funny and completely on point.