Life is full of contrasts and conflicts. I’m learning this again at the moment. I thought I had moved past some of the negative emotional aspects of infertility, but it seems that they had simply lain dormant for a while. I had hoped that by navigating well our infertility I might put to bed – or even put to death – some of the less savoury sides of this position. However, it seems the human condition is a permanent one, dictating that I will spend my whole life with the option of choosing the higher road – or not – and never escaping this decision-making process.
I had been doing better of late but after a period of quiet, the same old choices began to present themselves again in a more aggressive clamour. Choices of hope vs. disappointment, joy vs. bitterness and envy, faith vs. fear, contentment vs. indescribable sadness, living in the now vs. the yearning for change. I had naively thought that I might conquer the negatives through this process of adjusting to my surroundings, but I am reminded that circumstances are fluid and so too is my character. I wonder again whether I shall be learning these lessons until the day I die…
The trigger was an email from a friend last week, sharing the fabulous news that she is pregnant for the first time through IVF treatment. It is monumental news and incredibly exciting. And yet there is always the “But…..” that I feel as I digest someone else’s triumph. I don’t want to feel the flip-side of this wonderful news. I want to be different, to be better than that. And yet in all this time of watching friends fall pregnant easily – or even with difficulty – as soon as they leave the ‘infertility waiting room’ and head out the door into parenthood, I can’t help but feel envious. On this particular occasion the knowledge that it was through IVF seemed to smack home just a little harder – our own failure in this came sharply back into view. It is so very, very difficult not to fall prey to the sin of comparison and to contemplate all the reasons why it should be our turn for success instead.
It’s not that I can’t see the goodness of God or the testimony in this special news. It’s not that I’m not pleased for my friend. It’s just that her joy and certainty emphasise my own grief, longing, uncertainty and pain. We have walked for almost 40 months now in this barren wilderness and I am desperate to be delivered into my very own Promised Land. Until I’m released from this place I can celebrate but I cannot find true consolation in anyone else’s breakthrough because I am so watchful for my own.
On Monday I was standing on top of a ledge in the Peak District near where we live, surveying the glorious, rolling countryside with the sun on my face, the wind in my hair and my arms outstretched as I sang back to God of This Love that He offers me. I didn’t really care who saw me because I needed to worship. By Wednesday my personal landscape was looking less sunny and I didn’t know what to do or how to throw my hands up to praise.
Conflict and contrast are part of our very existence; the fabric of our complex being and the foundation of our faith. The beauty of singing to the One who made me, sees me and loves me is that along with it being all for His glory, we can choose whether we throw our arms wide as we praise or hide within the comfort of the refrains that we sing to Him. God is ok with conflict; His Kingdom is fundamentally connected to the contrast of seeing this groaning, messy world as it is and offering the opposite. Luckily for me He doesn’t love me any less as I ponder my choices. His love is an every day love. His love is acceptance and safety. His love is steadying and close. His love reminds me that I am not forgotten or alone. His love fans the flame of wanting to know Him better and letting Him in to the hurting places. His love whispers my name and reminds me that I am His. His love holds fast to its promises.