This blog was originally published in March 2016 on the former website and blog The Carry Camp which focused on supporting families struggling with infertility. However, this blog isn’t just for couples struggling with infertility. It is for anyone who is grieving and there is a lot of grief happening these days!
I reach for the twenty-pack of pregnancy tests and think “Am I a masochist or am I hopeful??” This situation is all too familiar for many of us. After a number of negative test results, is it more cost-efficient to buy the big pack or just too painful? I grab a 2 pack and head for the door. Only being 7 days late, the expectations come flooding into my heart and the self-talk starts:
“Don’t get your hopes up.”
“It totally could be this month!”
“If it’s negative, I’ll have a glass of wine (or two).”
Expectations have a funny way of leading us into a place we don’t necessarily want to go but are dying to get there at the same time. I buy some nail polish to make the trip feel more enjoyable and head home. Then I wait. Wait. Wait… Negative. Of course, it is. Disappointment inevitably ensues, drenching my soul in a grey sadness. Then the anger starts. Soon to follow, resentment, then bargaining. Disappointment is the gateway drug that leaves our souls vulnerable to feel all that is wrong with the world and with us. What do we do with it?! We can’t proactively fight it off by keeping our expectations in check (see above) and we can’t avoid the ensuing response of our heart. So what do we do?
We can become angry. But this only leads to bitterness and apathy.
We can run and ignore it. But this only leads to feeling lost and confused.
We can over-spiritualize and avoid grief. But this only leads to bad theology and spiritual stonewalls.
We can shut down and stay sad. But this only leads to loneliness and depression.
Or we can cry out…
“How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day
have sorrow in my heart?”Psalm 13:1,2
We can lament and weep our questions. Which leads us to God and brings resolution for our souls
“Lamentation is a journey towards God, not a final destination” (Balentine, 2004).
If disappointment is the gateway to feeling our brokenness then lamenting is our roadmap back to wholeness.
“But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
for he has been good to me”psalm 13:5,6
Disappointment is not avoidable in this journey. It comes waltzing through our door even when we thought we locked it and we enter unwillingly into a cycle of:
Expect. Wait. Hope. Disappointment… Expect. Wait. Hope. Disappointment…
When it comes to infertility, this cycle is unbearably real for many of us. There is no way around this process and yet, there is a way through it. We can’t prevent the natural ways our hearts deeply feel this journey but we can give our hearts permission to cry out.
“Awake, O Lord! Why do you sleep?
Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever.
Why do you hide your face
and forget our misery and oppression?”Psalm 44:23, 24
This journey doesn’t have to end with disappointment. All the alternative ways we can set up camp on our disappointment bring finality to it: Anger, apathy, depression, etc. They become a hard period at the end of a very long painful sentence. And not to say that the grieving process isn’t necessary, it totally and completely needs to happen. But it’s not enough. We need to turn our faces towards God and away from ourselves. Actually, lamenting IS grieving: Grieving with God, to God, and about God. The lamenting Psalms give us words to describe our disappointment more than we can at the moment.
And in due time, lamenting can bring resolve to our hearts not finality to our brokenness.
“As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?
My tears have been my food
day and night, while men say to me
“Where is your God?”
These things I remember, as I pour out my soul:
how I used to go with the multitude,
leading the procession to the house of God
with shouts of joy and thanksgiving
among the festive throng.
Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savoir and my God.Psalm 42:1-5
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