This year we will celebrate our eleventh anniversary.
And this will be the fourteenth year since a doctor told me there was a strong chance I would never bear a child.
So far that doctor was right.
I was talking with a friend the other day, one who has faced years of singleness past what she expected. Her life is redefining, and it’s good but also different. She told me about a quote from C. S. Lewis in A Grief Observed.
The exact same thing is never taken away and given back.
Even if she married this year, it wouldn’t be the exact same gift that she’d once assumed she’d have. Things are different, reality has changed, been redefined. There may be a new gift of marriage someday, but it will never be the old ideal.
So, today, to fully embrace the gifts she does have, there needs to be a releasing of the gifts that will never be. Hope may still burn for something new, but hoping to receive what is gone is foolish. Instead, in surrendering her future to the God-Who-Loves, her hope can be for the good of tomorrow, not the lost-desires of yesterday.
I still have hope for a baby. Oh, my heart just aches for one. But it would be an unexpected miracle. I say “unexpected” because all babies are miracles, but we expect them. If I ever carry an infant to birth, or adopt a newborn, it’ll be an unexpected miracle. One that I hope and pray for, but it’s a very different kind of hope for a different kind of miracle.
It’s different because I know a baby now won’t fix my barren years because those are regardless of what comes.
The ability to simply get married and have children was taken away and won’t be given back. My life redefined, my reality changed. Something new can still be given, but it won’t be the exact thing that was taken away.
And oh, how this truth has freed me. I can grieve what I didn’t receive without feeling like I’m giving up hope.
For me, this internal debate has been a huge part of my walk with God, a part of my wrestling with Him. I want to have faith (and not doubt!) but I struggle with how that looks. It feels like saying, “I can’t have babies.” is lacking faith that God can do a miracle. But it’s not. It’s simply acknowledging that I expected to have children, and couldn’t. Regardless of what happens in the future, this is still a true statement about my life.
My husband didn’t marry me until he was 33 and his relationships changed with the years of singleness—and marriage didn’t suddenly reverse time and change them back. There was redefinition that had happened. Nothing looked like he once imagined, and that was okay. God still gave him good things, but when marriage became part of that, it didn’t negate the years in between.
If I get pregnant tomorrow, or we are matched with an infant next week, parenting a baby won’t suddenly reverse time and change things back to how I once thought they’d be. Redefinition has happened. I have lived for years without the babies my heart desired, and I was forced to release the hope of those exact gifts.
I release that hope so I can learn to embrace hope in another form. Hope for what-will-be. C.S. Lewis has another great quote that goes well here.
There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.
In other words, what is gone is past—but what is to come? It’s better. Yes, he’s speaking of eternity, but I believe this is true for my relationship with the Lord as well. What is to come is far, far better than what I left behind–because I can go forward, but I can’t go backward.
So, no. I don’t hope for a baby to fix my infertility.
But I do hope. I hope for the better things, the closer relationship with Jesus, the beauty and redemption that I know He’ll supply. And yes, for now, I do hope for an unexpected miracle.
And for you? You who have been forced to lay down hoped-for-things, the job, the lost child, the miscarried baby, the marriage, the dreams, the physical abilities, the position, the children-of-your-heart, I pray this truth will comfort you: You can mourn what you didn’t receive without giving up hope in what God is still going to do.
God will be faithful in your life, just as He has been faithful in the lives of all who have gone on before us. His hands are a safe place for us to rest our hope.
And I pray the good-for-tomorrow that God is working in you today (regardless of whether it looks like we imagined it) will come to fulfillment in your life, and mine.