This may be one of the most difficult posts I’ll ever write. Why? Because it is very personal to my heart. It’s one I’ve wanted to write for a long time, yet, it always felt too personal, too intimate, too hard to put into words.
But, as social media continues to grow as the number 1 form of communications. As more and more people begin to use Facebook, Instagram and other forms of media that allows one to upload images of themselves to share with the world, the more my heart grows hard.
Yes, hard. I don’t want to have a hard heart. I don’t want to tell myself to shut off the feelings and ignore what is placed smack in my face. I don’t want to un-friend and ignore the people that I love even though they hurt me time and time again.
But, they don’t know it. They don’t even consider how their actions may make another person feel. They don’t think about whether their image might cause a sword to pierce the soul of their friends and/or family member. They don’t understand and they most likely never will. They simply want to share their joy with the world, or, tout a political agenda, an opinion about culture, or still a joke on a day like April Fool’s.
You see, I’m barren. I won’t be getting pregnant. I won’t know the joy of feeling a babe grow inside of me. I won’t know the joy of giving birth to a tiny human and feeling them gain sustenance from my body. I won’t know, ever. I’m thankful that the Lord has blessed me with motherhood from adoption and as much as I love my son and our life together it doesn’t change the fact that I have longed for pregnancy and childbirth.
I’ve prayed. I’ve worked on my heart. I’ve found a peace for the reality that is my life. Yet, every single time a friend on facebook, or someone I’m following on Instagram or any other social media site, uploads a shiny happy picture of their growing belly, or their ultrasound or their birthing story, or their shiny happy new baby with what I’m sure is a shiny new baby smell, my heart crushes.
It literally feels like it is crushing. It’s like a giant boulder descends on my chest and crushes my heart.
This is not something we talk about in society. It’s not really even something we talk about in the church or among friends, unless we happen to be blessed with a friend walking the same path. Oh sure, occasionally you might hear a news story about infertility treatments, IVF, insemination, or even surrogacy. You might see a lovely story about someone’s adoption of a child. You might hear whispers every now and then about so and so and how they are struggling to get pregnant. But, you most likely won’t hear stories, see images or read posts about the overwhelming sorrow one is facing because they are barren, and always will be.
So many, most, don’t know that others hurt while they rejoice. They simply can’t see beyond their joy to understand that perhaps someone in their scope of online “friends” might simply be extremely sorrowful, each and every time a pregnant image pops up in their news feed.
I’m not jealous. That is not what I’m feeling, I know many naysayers who would tell me that I need to get over the jealousy and stop being envious of others. But that isn’t what I feel. I’ve examined my heart in this over and over again and those words simply do not apply. I’m also not covetous. I don’t covet their child, their pregnancy or their joy. I simply am reminded of my own barrenness.
What it is, is a reminder of my loss. I grieve a dream that can’t be. I grieve the children that I longed to hold in my arms. I grieve. For those of you who don’t know, barrenness brings grief and sorrow, incredible overwhelming sorrow. It is a process that will not end because there is never an end to barrenness.
Barren. I hate that word. It conjures up images of a dry, desolate land with no water, no comfort, no peace. Many use the word, infertile, but it means the same thing, a land that is barren, dry, desolate and can bear no fruit. Either way, it doesn’t impart a peacefulness. Don’t get me wrong. I find peace in God my Father and Christ my Savior. But sorrow, oh sorrow. Well, even Jesus wept, over Lazarus, knowing that he would return to life again. So I feel no guilt over such sorrow, although, I used to. Sorrow is a natural part of grief and I’ve learned to allow myself the right to grieve.
How can one grieve what never was? How can one sorrow over one never conceived or born? Yet, I do. I know others who do as well.
Maybe you are thinking, “Well, can’t you just be joyful for your friend?” I’ve actually been asked that by friends.
Yes. I can be joyful for my friend and rejoice with them over the blessing they are receiving. But that doesn’t change the sorrow that I feel, the overwhelming crushing feeling each and every time I am reminded that I shall never know that, feel that, or hold that. Some things are just too hard, too overwhelming, too grievous to bear.
I can hear you now because I’ve heard it too many times to count… “God won’t give you more than you can bear.” But did you know that statement isn’t in the Bible? Never does scriptures say that God won’t give me more than I can bear. What it does say is,
“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.” 1 Corinthians 10:13,14.*
This passage says God will not allow me to be tempted beyond what I am able. It doesn’t say, suffer. Nor is it referencing struggles of life. It is specifically talking about temptations to sin, and that He will provide a way to escape the temptation that I might be able to bear it, the temptation. That is why Paul, goes on in verse 14 to admonish the Corinthians to ‘flee from idolatry.’
Using that passage out of context can make one facing a struggle feel like a failure. They might think, as I used to, that they aren’t strong enough, faithful enough, encouraging enough, enough of anything. When the reality is this passage was never intended to be used as it has been manipulated to be used. It is, in context, speaking of falling into temptation to sin.
Comfort for a Barren Woman’s Soul
Now if you want to use scripture to comfort the barren woman, there are plenty that do; Isaiah 40, Psalm 18:32, and Psalm 139 come to mind. That one, from 1 Corinthians 10, however, isn’t for comfort of grief. It is for comfort through temptation.,
A personal favorite passage for comfort:
“I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make its boast in the Lord; The humble shall hear of it and be glad. Oh, magnify the Lord with me, And let us exalt His name together. I sought the Lord, and He heard me, And delivered me from all my fears. They looked to Him and were radiant, And their faces were not ashamed. This poor man cried out, and the Lord heard him, And saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him, And delivers them. Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him! Oh, fear the Lord, you His saints! There is no want to those who fear Him. The young lions lack and suffer hunger; But those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing. Come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord. Who is the man who desires life, And loves many days, that he may see good? Keep your tongue from evil, And your lips from speaking deceit. Depart from evil and do good; Seek peace and pursue it. The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their cry. The face of the Lord is against those who do evil, To cut off the remembrance of them from the earth. The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, And delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, And saves such as have a contrite spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the Lord delivers him out of them all. He guards all his bones; Not one of them is broken. Evil shall slay the wicked, And those who hate the righteous shall be condemned. The Lord redeems the soul of His servants, And none of those who trust in Him shall be condemned.” Psalm 34*.
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True comfort for the barren can only come from God the Creator. I won’t always know or understand why I am barren but I take comfort in knowing He created me and His ways are right and just. I rejoice that he heard my cry and delivered me from sorrow by bringing a child to me through adoption. I take comfort in Him.
But still, my heart, my soul, is crushed, time and time again when I am reminded of what never will be. Reminded by shiny happy mamas holding big plump bellies filled with life, of blurry peanut sized images of babes on an ultrasound and of newly born souls laying on mamas bellies in a delivery room all shiny and new. I’m joyful for them, yet grievous for the child that never was and never will be within my own body.
Know that this was not written to any one person in particular. So why do I write this? What purpose does it serve to put it out there for others to read? I know other women who are also grieving through barrenness. Perhaps my willingness to write this will comfort others in knowing they are not alone in their emotional responses to such images. Maybe someone will read it and think carefully about what and how they share with the world the joy that is their pregnancy. Possibly someone will read it and choose to share their personal images privately with close family and friends rather than publicly in a newsfeed.
The reality is, I can’t escape seeing and being made aware of others joyful celebrations of new life. But, if just one reader finds a bit of comfort or consideration, then posting this personal story will have been worth it, to me anyway.
*Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.