If you are without children this Christmas

Once while calling to schedule an adoption physical, the nurse said, "Oh, when are you adopting?" I said, "Well, actually we don't know that we'll ever adopt. We're just calling to schedule a physical for an adoption application."

"Well, I sure hope you do. Because children are what makes the world go round!"

***

I will never forget her words or the emotions that shot through my veins. Because in my blurry brain, they meant this: Your life will certainly not be complete without children. That better work out for you. Otherwise, life is basically hopeless. One might even say, worthless. 

Emotions are funny things, I tell you, because despite my theology informing me that it is actually the Triune God who makes the world go round, I tend to believe the world instead. Left unaided, I tend to believe the lie that I will never be happy or fulfilled without children of my own.

***

The day before Thanksgiving, we found out an adoption opportunity that was beginning to appear so hopeful would not happen. It was horrible timing; I can't imagine it being worse unless they had actually called us on Thanksgiving Day or something while we were sitting down to a turkey dinner. We were on my way to my sister's house to help with prep for the big day. And I think the wisest thing to do would have been to go home and sit on the couch and cry for the evening, then to venture out on Thanksgiving morning again. But, clearly, we weren't thinking straight. So we soldiered on.

My body did this strange thing, too: I had a wool scarf on for all of 15-20 minutes, and I broke out in a red welt on my neck that began to grow, red, throbbing, absorbing. It was as if the adrenaline in my body that had been building for 2 1/2 months came in for a crash landing, and my body cried out in confusion. It took the steroids five days to calm the allergic reaction down.

Body, soul, and spirit, all felt like a tumbled mess. And no one knew what to do or to say. Lament. Grieve, mourn and wail. Cry out to Abba. Even when it is impossible to think clearly, to even sort through the mess, he is somehow here.

***

Hope binds itself around the heart like barbed wire. It hurts to hope and it hurts not to hope. -Cindy, blog commenter, on "How this barren woman says thank you"

  • If you are single and hoping for a spouse and children, then a married person who has no kids may not seem so sad to you. You may be hoping for just a warm touch, just the reassurance and comfort of the presence of another. This was how I lived most of my adult life. Double grief can be hard to bear. I am so sorry.
  • If you are married and you have been through umpteen failed cycles, or your adoption dreams just never came true, and you long for a child of your own, I am sorry for the endless hoping and hopes dashed. The emotional whiplash you have endured is real and raw.
  • If you are a parent but your kids are separated from you this Christmas, my heart pounds for you. This is a hard thing, one I wish you did not have to bear.

Let's skip the tired cliches and the "Well, there's always next year!" comments. Let's be real here, if only for a few sacred moments.

I do not know that you will ever be married or have the children you desire, or that you will spend next Christmas with your kiddos. I will not give you false hope. I've endured so much myself that I can only tolerate the real deal.

And here is what Jesus has been speaking to me, here is why I haven't yet given up on hope:

Dear child,

In this life, you will experience many deaths. You will participate in my suffering; you will taste of the cup I bore for you.

Gratefully, the cross was not the final word. The tomb is empty. And I know you already received this memo: but I am Risen! I have conquered death. What I said is true: behold, I am making all things new! Resurrection is possible; I proved this once and I am proving it again each day.

These are your spiritual guarantees, the promises you must put your weight upon. But let me be clear: all of this great news does not mean your dreams here will be fulfilled. Some marry young, some never marry, some die of starvation when these things should not be so! Some have ten children with no means to care for them, some lose children growing in their wombs, some never have children to call their own.

So don't believe those who tell you that they are believing God to give you all the things you've ever wanted, that he will come through for you! He has already come through for you. He is working in and through your sorrow to create beautiful, abundant life. This pruning is for your good.

And, behold, I am doing a new thing—haven't you noticed? My inbreaking kingdom means new life and Resurrection is occurring constantly. But my ways of working are not based only on your pleas and your desires: they are based on my knowledge, my love, for your good and the good of my kingdom.

So while the desire for a child is good and holy, don't miss the new things I'm up to by clinging to a dream that may or may not happen for you. Open up your eyes again, tilt your chin up toward me, let me go about loving you in the ways I long to. 

No matter the loss or heartache, redemption is happening. Right here, in the pain. Have you forgotten the one thing I was hoping you would never forget? I will never leave your nor forsake you. I specialize in bringing hope in the most barren places. As you experience deaths and difficulties of all kinds, I am waiting to bring you new life. All this is yours if you remain in me.

With great affection,

Your Abba

What difficult struggle do you face this Christmas? Do you feel it is possible to find Resurrection even in this hard thing? Why or why not?