My wife and I have struggled with infertility and a miscarriage over the last eighteen months. As the months continue to move along, we continue to hope and pray. Anyone who has been through this process understands the roller coaster of hope and disappointment that repeats every month.
One thing that makes it weirder (not harder, just… strange) is how often the people around us find themselves pregnant. Friends. Family members. Strangers on the train. We had a friend get pregnant a week after her honeymoon. Friends who got pregnant before and after our miscarriage are showing off their bumps.
We live in New York and there are kids and baby bumps everywhere. It is hard not to feel the sting of what we do not have as we see what we so desire in others.
It is challenging when we get the news that yet another friend is pregnant. It does remind us of what we do not have. Of course, this does not negate the excitement we feel for our friends. But it is a strange, particular kind of sting.
When we see what we do not have manifested in the lives of others, it is a strange sort of hurt. The hurt of possibility. It is plausible, just not happening for me.
I often have a Have Not mentality. I feel as though life isn’t fair. It makes me solemn, upset, annoyed. Employing the metric of comparison, it can make me feel like I am not enough.
The easy-to-say solution is to be thankful for what I have. The reason it is easy is because it is true. We have a family in our church who has been trying to conceive longer than we have. The one silver-lining from our miscarriage was that we found out we could get pregnant – we weren’t infertile. This couple from our church would kill for that.
We live with a single roommate and have a lot of single friends. Our marriage is a special blessing, a gift I can’t imagine being without.
It hit me like a ton of bricks this week: to some, I am a Have. Some use me to measure themselves a have-not.
The truth is that all of us have things to be thankful for. It does not lessen the sting of our hurt to exercise our thankfulness. But it does allow us to see our lives more holistically.
It’s all about perspective, right? We rush to cast ourselves in the role of the victim. We are drawn to woefulness. It is much more challenging to be thankful. We collect benefits and immediately put them on a shelf and start taking them for granted. We want more and more, focusing on what we are lacking and forgetting the comet tail of riches following us around.
The real key to this perspective is what we are using as the measurement. Have what? Everything we want? The thing we immediately want? If it is the latter, no wonder we are never satisfied. We just replace one achieved want with another. They pop up like Pez pellets.
Money and material get the most attention as measures. But we all know plenty of people with lots of stuff that don’t have anything worth having and people with few possessions who seem to have it all.
Why do we do this? Why do we search for measures?
The reason is that we are people of purpose and what we are deeply searching for is meaning. Will money or fame get it? Friends or romance or babies? This is the question our souls are asking and the question we are trying to answer when we feel the sting of absence.
I, for one, believe that God is up to something. He is the source, supplier, and destination of purpose. It frightens me to think of the waiting and the pain I will have to go through as I wait to see what He is doing. It frightens me just as much that I might be missing out on accepting what He has already done.