This post is the fifth in a series called The Gap. Please click here to read from the beginning.
There were many things on this journey that I wasn’t expecting. I wasn’t expecting to be able to picture a future without children. I could not have anticipated the peace that came with realizing our life without children wasn’t a detour but the main road. As my friend Peggy often reminds me: we were a family of two from the moment we said ‘I do’… we just had to embrace it.
Everything about that embrace seemed awkward at best. I wrapped bulky arms around a future I didn’t fully understand trying not to stab my wounded heart or battered body in the process. Infertility had left me broken. I won’t deny it. Even being a fat girl from childhood didn’t make me feel as broken and useless as being unable to conceive or carry a child. Our child.
I stood on the cusp of this embrace a shattered shell of a woman. My identity sought repair in the hands of the Master, but my heart clung to the lingering pain… a permament memoir of a painful truth: I was infertile. Embrace this life or no, this body was a shadow of what it was meant to be.
I didn’t expect healing. Looking back, perhaps I should have. Most of what I experienced as my faithful Saviour led me down this road had been unexpected. I should have known that the Giver of every good and perfect gift (James 1:17) would not (could not!) leave me shattered in grief. He had not left me there when my mother died… He wasn’t about to leave me there now.
I can remember the first moments when the healing felt real: trying not to be distracted by the adorable child sitting beside me in the church pew, a number of things made my heart stop in my throat. First was the fact that I found the child adorable, not irritating. Infertility can alter your view of that thing you want most… seeing babies and children everywhere can be a painful thing. The second was my response to the wee girl’s desire to cuddle. Leaning with warm weight against me, she wiggled her arm beneath mine, popped her thumb in her mouth and sent me a winsome grin. She was asleep in moments. Her mother sent me an apologetic look and I silently shook my head.
It was the quiet joy that ultimately surprised me. It welled up full and free as I strained to find that (suddenly distant) feeling of grief. For the first time in many years I didn’t feel broken and infertile, and for the first time I believed I could be free. Perhaps not immediately, but someday…
But the joy? That joy was a gift I didn’t dare ask for. In His strength I will accept this life, I thought to myself, and we will make it work. But to find joy in it? And for that joy to be only occasionally tempered by sorrow?
That is a good and perfect gift.
The unasked-for, unworthy gift.
A byproduct of life on this side of grace.
It is the miracle we never prayed for, and more beautiful than we could imagine.