“Are you trying?”
For most things in life, trying seems to be glorified as part and parcel of the journey to success. Without sweat and tears, it almost seems unjustified for anyone to become successful. Sheer hard work, grit and pain has to be part of the equation.
Sure, God can be part of the big picture too. But more often than not, our part seems to play the magnified role.
Recently, I couldn’t help but notice how we’ve translated this to every part of our lives.
“Are you trying?”
The first time someone asked, I was taken aback. I didn’t know it was a question you could ask in public, and certainly not to an acquaintance! But as time went by, I realized how fascinated people can be by parts of our most private lives, and how inquisitive they can be.
I have had my fair share of questions and advice doled upon us every now and then. Thankfully, with my husband’s winsome smile and wit, he handles them all charmingly on my behalf.
Given my age and how much we’ve been travelling, I’ve never felt the sting of the question until lately, when more people I know have confided in me the pains, shame and stigma of being perceived as (gasp) barren.
“So when are you trying?”
“What are you waiting for?”
“Do you need some advice?”
As medical doctors, many of us are attuned to the heart-wrenching stories caught in between the lines. We know the stark contrast between couples who agonize over another unwanted pregnancy (“Oh no, my fourth!”) and the tears shed in darkness for couples who’ve tried everything including in-vitro fertilization and failed.
Not everything in life is an automated machine which translates effort into success.
I want to tell the other people who ask them these questions- Please. Leave. Them. Alone.
No, they don’t need you to tell them “it’ll be very soon”. They don’t need you to give them advice. They don’t need you to say, “Yea, children are a big blessing. When are yours coming?”
Very simply, it’s not your business.
I may not know exactly how they feel. But I do know that they did not choose their situation. I do know they tried. I do know it can really hurt, when people ask and probe and act like you didn’t try hard enough when in actual fact, it could be a medical condition or very simply, not God’s timing.
Two months ago, I had a glimpse into the pains of this private chapter of life, which is often hidden from the gaze of this watching world by one too many women.
I thought I was expecting.
My husband was certain, but we had to wait. Several painstaking days later, when the pregnancy kit showed otherwise, I was surprised at how crushed I was, how devastating the news was to me after we had pinned our hopes… until a colleague informed me that a urine test would be more accurate one more week later. Another painstaking week later, too traumatized to take another urine test, a kind colleague offered a blood test which would be more definite. When it was negative, I went completely numb. This time, it was definite, in spite of what we thought God was leading us to.
It gave me a glimpse into the world of those I knew who have been crushed month after month, with tear-filled mornings and tear-stained workdays.
In shock, I felt paralyzed. I didn’t want to go to work, talk to anyone pregnant or share about how I felt with anybody. I felt completely taken for a ride. I asked God why He put me through such an experience set up to mislead us. Surely, He knew that I thought I knew what I didn’t know at all.
Anger. Tears. Frustration.
One morning, however, something changed in me. I couldn’t explain it. I woke up having decided I was through with this- that a month of waiting, tears and wrestling with God wasn’t going to repeat itself again because it simply wasn’t His fault.
And. It wasn’t mine either.
This was not about me not doing the right things, reading the right books, picking up the right symptoms or about trying.
It wasn’t about me at all.
And if I believed that God was a good Father who gave good gifts, then why should I be sad, mad or upset with Him for not giving us a gift at a time I thought we would receive it?
You see, in spite of the roller-coaster of emotions I had that month, God never changed. His character never changed. He was constant.
So I decided I was through with that agony.
It doesn’t mean I’ve stopped praying about being a mother. It just means that whatever the outcome every month, I can rejoice, I can laugh, I can say, “God, you are good” because whatever the outcome, I know that God has His best timing, far better than I could ever plan in my life. That means that I should never be worried, be in a hurry, feel hurt or ashamed or belittled because we don’t have a child, yet. He decides whether or not. He decides when.
I am learning, that surrender doesn’t mean not praying, not hoping or not caring. It simply means saying, “God, you are God and I am not”. Surrender means letting go. It means not blaming ourselves. It means trusting God wholeheartedly that because He is essentially GOOD and withholds no good thing from us, I can let go. I can trust Him. Completely.
That means I never need to feel that sense of anxiety, rejection or devastation I felt over those trying weeks of waiting for the results that month, because any result would still mean He is Good and in control.
I am learning, that if we cannot surrender ourselves wholly to God at the point of conception, then it will only be an uphill task for us to be fully surrendered mothers, in our journey in motherhood. After all, as our child grows, there will be more and more for us to lay down and trust God for in his/her life. It never gets easier. The surrender has to start right from the beginning, before conception.
It’s not that I don’t care. Don’t get me wrong. But I don’t want to have to explain when we are planning for a family and “how it’s going” because none of our four parents ask us that question. God knows, and He alone decides on the timing. If God is not worried about His timing for us, then why should anyone else be?
We pray, we wait, we continue to trust.
I am learning, that He has plenty of spiritual children for us to love, bless and mentor at the present. I am learning, that there’s no point moping or feeling sorry for ourselves, because God sees what we don’t. I am learning, that God desires us to keep hoping, praying, trusting and waiting in anticipation. Not everything is about trying and doing and acting upon the right things.
Some things belong wholly to God, just like everything else should.
So whatever your situation and whatever the expectations that others have imposed upon you, would you surrender it to God, trust Him and wait upon Him with me?
He is good God, and He has eternity in the palm of His hand.
If you’ve released it, if you’re praying, if you know that He is good, then you are no longer accountable to anybody’s anxiety, inquisitiveness or probing.
He is a good God who gives good gifts, in His good, good time.
Here’s wishing all mothers, and mothers-to-be
a very Blessed Mothers’ Day.
Wait on the LORD: be of good courage,
and He shall strengthen thine heart:
wait, I say, on the LORD.