My heart sank each time I saw the first drops of blood. The stab of sorrow did not fade as month after month I felt the cramping betrayal of an empty womb. It was a pulsing reminder of another month’s failure. Not pregnant. No baby. Better luck next time.
We saw friends and family members welcoming new life. Quiet tears slipped down my cheeks as I drove home after meeting their newborns. I felt guilt each time their joy pricked my sorrow. I wished my eyes blind to the swelling abdomens and soft cheeks filling my social media feed. I longed for numbness, to lessen the weight of pain. I sat in the ruins infertility was making of my fragile dreams and innocence and hope. And I wept.
I wondered how to cling to vibrant hope while swallowing realism. I wondered how to find joy in a heart exhausted by unresolved, unresolving grief.
The cold comfort of others offered plenty of advice to this end. During church social time, my voice lilted around the danger zone of conversations that would lead to questions about children or unsolicited advice about our situation. Well-intentioned or not, their maxims were burrs, and my heart could not bear more stabbing.
We were often told to “Just trust God’s timing.” Each time, the same response sprung to mind—and sometimes escaped my lips—What choice did I have? Like Peter, I asked, “Where else would I go? Who else could I turn to? Who else has the words of life?” (see John 6).
There were many days when this was the timbre of my faith. There were days when I wondered if that was enough, when I wondered that my faith felt so weak. There were days when faith seemed to hold me by a sliver. I was the hero in the cartoon, suspended over a gaping chasm below, watching strands of rope pop one by one. I stared at the sky, hanging there at its mercy, repeating “Lord, where else can I go?”
I did not understand why. I did not have answers to the mystery of His “timing.” I had no guarantees of the future. But the rope of faith held. It held, and it was enough. The dependence and desperation that drove me again and again to the One who Himself was familiar with suffering was enough. Hope and joy took on a new shade, keeping quiet company with my tears, fueling the shaky confidence that continued to believe in a God whose character was grounded in bringing life out of death and emptiness.
As I write, my unborn daughter swirls inside of me, punctuating my typing with her kicks. Hope, joy, and faith come a bit easier these days, as we rejoice in a gift of new life, but the story isn’t over. We are still brushing away the cobwebs of our long season of grief. We find them clinging in odd places and notice them with surprise. Infertility will always be a part of our story. But as its once gaping wounds age into scars, I hope they will remind me not just of the pain we endured. I need those scars to remind me of things only pain could teach. That joy can appear in the questions and the weeping. That hope is bigger than statistics or outcomes. That even the smallest sliver of faith, the simple faith that has nowhere else to go, is enough.
Diana Gruver writes about spiritual formation and discipleship and shares about the adventures of life and faith on her blog, www.dianagruver.com. Her first book, forthcoming with InterVarsity Press, is about individuals in church history who struggled with depression. She can often be found singing in the kitchen with her husband Scott and their sometimes-sociable cat, Agatha.
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