Ahhh…the holidays…the time of year when the term “joy” is heard everywhere…just as if the turning of the calendar to the month of December ushers in automatic joy.
Not so much for some people…and I daresay most people.
The fact is the older you get, I believe, the holidays become a time of complex emotions, and some of them aren’t always positive. I am incredibly blessed, but because I have been through a major life trauma which included loss (childlessness) the holidays will always be a time that will include some degree of sadness. Everywhere you look you see rosy-cheeked children all excited for Christmas. This innocent joy and excitement motivates their parents to go to the ends of the earth to provide them that “perfect Christmas”. Sometimes that motivation causes adults to do things that are not so mature, but that’s another rant for another day.
Christmas (in the American culture) is all about children. That first Christmas was all about a child…the Christ child…and a girl who found herself with a pregnancy she didn’t plan.
As a childless woman I have found myself jealous of Mary. God chose her to carry the Christ Child, but He didn’t even choose me to have a child in the conventional way. It brings up the emotions of inadequacy which…if I don’t get control of them…can send my emotions into tailspin.
Christmas is all about children, and that’s like mixing fire with gasoline when it comes to the childless not by choice.
I experienced that all too painfully last weekend…Thanksgiving weekend. Hubby and I have not had our best year. I won’t go into too many details, because they are private and personal. My husband also has a right to privacy, and I honor that. But with his gracious permission I’m telling you that he is grieving our childlessness intensely and has been for a while now. I didn’t know the depths until last weekend…Thanksgiving weekend…which was a bad weekend on multiple levels.
He could not hold his 5-month-old nephew. In fact, when he was with his family and near his baby nephew it was like putting kryptonite in the same room with Superman. I could see he was struggling immensely, and when he was offered the chance to hold his nephew he responded with a very vehement “NO!”
Things came to a head on our drive back home and once we were back home. Things were bad…very bad…and at the end of that emotional and tearful discussion we both were undecided as to whether or not we could endure the rest of our lives together with this shared disappointment. It has eaten away at our relationship like a slow-growing cancer. It infected me first and then moved on to him.
The beginning of the holidays had brought things to a head, and life was anything but “joyful.”
Last weekend…the Thanksgiving Holiday…I had to face, yet again, that my inadequacy in the childbearing department was causing great grief for other individuals. This included my parents who are grandchildless, and most importantly, my husband who is now trying to come to terms with his own complex emotions over his childlessness.
Honestly, it’s too much for me to bear. I think the only pain worse than this would be to lose a child (or a loved one) to an accident that you caused. It really feels like I have killed our children and I’m am killing those I love albeit more slowly.
Then, I came to a realization. I cannot bear this weight. It is too much. As of right now children are not to be in this season of our lives. That is God’s plan. I’ve had a hard time dealing with God’s sovereignty in this area, but He has spoken, and it is the way He determined it to be. I cannot bear the pain of others. I just can’t and retain my sanity. All I can do is love them, pray diligently for them, and support them and hope it is enough.
I can’t even bear my own pain alone…how in the world can I be expected to bear the pain of others on my own?
The simple answer is…I’m not supposed to.
I had tea yesterday with a wonderful Godly woman who has graciously taken time out of her very busy ministry/speaking schedule to mentor me. She has walked a similar path as I. What she imparted to me was exactly what God had been telling me since last weekend. God is in control, and I cannot bear this pain alone. I must lean on Him, seek Godly counsel, and love and pray diligently for my husband and my family who have been so adversely affected by my childlessness. I must also choose everyday to give my ongoing trial over the Lord. While intense grief may pass after a season the effects of a loss stay with us for a lifetime. Any major loss in our lives changes us in some way for a lifetime until that time we (those of us who have accepted Christ’s forgiveness for our sins…Re: John 3:16) enter Heaven when God will “…wipe every tear from our eyes”. (Revelation 21:4)
Like I said, I know I am far from the only one experiencing pain during the holidays. One of the constants of life here in this fallen world is pain and loss. What we have to hold onto is the redeeming CONSTANT…that is God’s love for us as evidenced by His sending His Son to this earth as the perfect sacrifice for our sins. He was also “A man of sorrows acquainted with grief”(Isaiah 53:3) So, he knows, only too well how I, as well as you, feel.
Let that wonderful realization be a comfort to you this season when the world is focused on children and material possession. God does know and understands our unique pain.