Fine Line Between Joy and Pain

Let me preface what may seem like a heavy blog post by saying that I have the most amazing 8-month-old at home. If she doesn’t make you WANT to have a baby immediately, you must be immune to her sweet good-natured personality, sense of humor and photogenic expressions. But before getting pregnant with Eyre, I had an insatiable hunger for a child. My maternal appetite kicked in during elementary school. I used to have childhood dreams that some desperate single mom would leave her infant on my doorstep that I would keep, love and nurture. Crazy right? What 8 or 9-year-old has dreams and desires like like that? (Well, I was already reading adult fiction by third grade, so my fictionalized scenarios were most likely plot lines from books that I had read.) As a child, I had three younger siblings, loved helping out in our church’s nursery, and started babysitting at a very young age. Now as a mom, I would never leave my baby with an 11 or 12-year-old! I can barely find a 23-year-old that I trust to watch my child! I am telling you for this sole point: I hungered for a child for 20-plus years before being gifted one of my own.

So you can imagine, that getting married only intensified this long dormant desire, because I was standing on the precipice of this dream becoming a reality. When a pregnancy test finally revealed a plus sign, I was ecstatic. I bubbled anticipation and radiated a joy from deep within. Then at 7 weeks in my first trimester, I had significant amount of bleeding at work. I felt to pieces. A friend drove my train-wrecked self to the doctor’s office for a blood test, but because it was a Friday afternoon, we would have no results until Monday. I was a tear-stained mess all day. But by Saturday, I had given my fear and my desire over to God. Let me explain. I was still sad and heartbroken, crying every other hour over what I thought was the inevitable loss of the life of my child, but I had accepted it. I knew in my head and in my heart, that my God was still good, still my Savior, still merciful, still just, still the Lover of my soul, regardless of what was happening. He still was who He says He is, regardless of my circumstance, the messiness of my life, and whether or not I get everything that I want. And that realization gave me strength.

That next week, Aaron and I went for an ultrasound, braced for bad news and miraculously saw our little Eyre for the first time, heart beating and healthy. The bloody scare had been nothing more than a pocket of blood that had pooled during implantation and my body had spontaneously expunged. I cried again, this time joyful tears. Nothing is more special than seeing a new life growing inside of you for the first time. And nothing can replace the lesson God was teaching me about trust, control, and my expectations. During my pregnancy, several of my friends were also pregnant. Along this journey, one of the couples lost their son while I was at home snuggling a perfect little bundle of sweetness. It is a tragic story and twists our hearts into painful knots, but it is the broken world in which we live. There is fine line between life and death, joy and sadness, comfort and pain. I am learning so much from watching people close to me suffer heartache, loss, difficult circumstance, estranged relationships, and yet clinging to solid ground, the only safe foundation on which to build our lives in a hazardous world – a God who is who He says He is, and a God who passionately loves us and patiently grows us. I’m unlearning my expectations, my entitlement to everything I want, the audacity to put myself first. Sometimes I psych myself out, is God teaching me all this to prepare me for some traumatic event? Then I remember that to live is to suffer. Everyone just has a different portion of suffering, and we cannot know what our portion will be. A friend of mine is currently authoring a book on suffering, and I believe in my heart that it will be wise and grounded in the integrity of one who knows suffering. She exudes the still peaceful presence of one who has learned to pull deep from the Well and be sustained in her grief. And maybe this is the bittersweet gift of suffering – a deeper peace, a deeper knowing.

How would my daily life change if I expected hardship instead of ease, expected pain instead of happiness? Maybe I wouldn’t feel entitled to my happiness and comfort. Maybe I would be more in touch with the pain of others, and less focused on my own when it comes. And maybe the good in life would begin to feel miraculous.

~lr

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