She’s the mother of four.
Their ages are her testimonial to the tired, overwhelming days. 4, 3, 1, and 3 months.
I’m the mother of none.
My empty house is the testimonial to my years of tears and empty longings.
We seem so different on the surface.
She can’t know what it’s like to face infertility every. single. day. She’ll never know what it is like to cry blistering tears over the hundredth negative pregnancy test. She’ll never understand the moods that send a usually sane person into there will never be a baby and I’m so tired of waiting for one so I’m going to turn the spare bedroom into an office and pretend that I never wanted a baby anyway rage.
I’ve never born and birthed four children. I’ve never sat in the middle of three screaming little ones to nurse the baby that has been waiting for twenty minutes, crying in hunger. I’ve never locked myself in the bathroom and cried because there are kids banging on the door and I. just. need. one. second. to. breathe. I’ve never sat up night after night after night with a colicky baby and a four year old with insomnia. I don’t have four children pulling on me every day, every hour, every moment.
The surface is so different. It’s so easy to stand from the place you’ve experienced and think,
I would give anything to have all those kids hanging on me.
I would give anything to have a whole evening just to myself.
But here’s the honest to goodness truth:
We’re the same. This friend and I. We’re exactly the same.
“I tell myself every day that I should just be happy, but it doesn’t work.”
And I’ve said that same thing and felt that same condemnation for failing at just being content with what I have.
And when I stop in my tracks, in my baby-hunger, in my dwelling on my struggles– and I listen past her longings for a night off of mothering, I hear the same heart-beat.
The same struggles.
We’re all just human after all. So I write back and say, feeling the conviction to my bones that this is my answer too:
Oh, I don’t think we can really make ourselves be happy. I think we just have to surrender the stuff that makes us unhappy. And instead of thinking, “What’s wrong with me that I can’t just be happy with what I have?” (which makes us discouraged) just say, “God, thank you for the things I do have.”
I think it is time that we face this lie head-on. It’s really not about us being happy. It’s not about being tough enough to stuff down how much we struggle and pretend that everything is good.
It’s about surrender.
It always has been.
It’s about me, standing right here in my empty house with barrenness marking my journey, and saying:
God, I thank you.
I thank you for beauty.
For the fellowship of Believers.
For a husband who loves.
For snowflakes plastered against my windows.
For the barn full of animals.
For the friend who stops in for coffee.
For the teenage girl who asks to be discipled.
I thank you for grace, upon grace, upon grace.
Dear ones, there will always be things that make us unhappy. There will always be trials that drag the hope right out of us. You can walk out of this desert tomorrow, but I guarantee that you’ll stumble into a new one soon after. It’s life.
I can’t make myself be happy. I can’t even make myself be content. But I can make myself surrender the things that discourage me and thank God for the things that bless me.