This is a post I wrote a while before I had the courage to actually start this blog. I am happy to announce that the friend mentioned in this blog delivered her beautiful son on the 29th of this month (just two days ago). :-) I wish I could say that the blanket I was knitting for my other friend's son is complete, but it's almost there! I can say that I am amazed at how much I've grown even in the few months that have passed since I first wrote this. I hope this encourages you all. Blessings! ~Julia
I'm very happy for my friend. We are not close friends. We are more than acquaintances. We went to college together and were involved in many of the same things, went to the same church, had the same group of friends. But I wouldn't say we ever made it to "kindred spirit" status in friendship. Far from it, actually, although I think, given more time together, we probably would have found we have much in common.
But we are friends enough for Facebook. Ah, Facebook! The world of keeping tabs on people you wish you could see more often, wish you'd gotten to know better, or even just wish you knew. The world of proclaiming all the joys and happiness to others in your life who, being just as busy as you, don't have time to stay connected through "old school" forms of communication, like the telephone. I hear you! That's why I practically live on Facebook, myself. Phone conversations take too long and require too much form, most of the time.
So, as I'm browsing the news feed, I see a picture of my friend, blissfully happy, face red from smiling. I remember instantly that she's expecting a baby and assume that the pictures have something to do with her pregnancy. I learn from the caption that the pictures are from her baby shower.
Now, baby showers are difficult for me. They were difficult for me before I was married because of the forced socialization with perfect strangers, acting like you're all the best of friends because you happen to have one friend in common. But they have become even more difficult as I am made aware each month that having a baby isn't yet in God's plan for me. I still go to baby showers of close friends and relatives, and I truly do share in their joy. But even in my happiness for them, it's an occasion perfectly suited to bring the reality of my lack of children squarely to the center of my world.
So I face the question: Do I look at her pictures, or do I pass them by?
On certain days there wouldn't even be a question. Chances are, on those days, I'm not likely to even be ON Facebook because I wouldn't be able to handle seeing pictures of babies, reading posts of friends grumbling over the hardships of parenting, or seeing advertisements for "infertility cures," adoption, and contraceptions along the sidebar. Yes, on days like that, I would definitely opt out of viewing the photos.
But this day has been a good day. It's been a simple and uneventful day, and I have felt uncharacteristically social. I smiled when I saw the smile on my friend's face, so I chose to look.
Truly, there was nothing earth-shattering in the album. My friend is beautiful, full and pregnant with life. She's the kind of friend that, even on her worst days, still manages to smile and find something to be thankful for, something to rejoice over. So add to that already beautiful personality the beauty of pregnancy, and she almost exudes a type of perfection. Not true perfection, but a beauty that is beyond her, beyond any human. There were pictures of her holding cute little tiny baby shoes, pictures of her with her closest girl friends, and pictures of them all decorating "onesies." That's pretty much it.
Yet I could not stave off the ache, the genuine, physically tangible ache, that crept in ever so slowly as I looked through the photos. It's the kind of twinge of pain you get when you see someone's skinned knee, or stitches and your body can't help but empathize and you actually feel pain. The odd thing is, my friend was not in pain. I was not viewing an injury. The pain was mine. Mine alone. It came from inside of me.
Now, on a day when I can joyfully knit a baby blanket for another friend's baby, praying for the baby as I generate stitch after stitch for the little guy, why on Earth would viewing pictures of the joy of a friend in her pregnancy cause me pain?
Truly, it's a rhetorical question. I don't really want an answer to be offered. Chances are very high that I can come up with a very long list of accurate answers for that. Its' one of those "I'm just sayin'..." moments.
Friends, I am genuinely happy for my sweet friend. I was happy for her when I found out she was pregnant, and I'm happy for her that she has had a healthy pregnancy. I wish her the best. But looking through the album, I struggled with thoughts like, "I'm so much older than she is, and I've been married much longer," or "I never saw her becoming a mother so soon after marriage," or "Wow! Look how full and beautiful her pregnant body is...I wonder if I will ever get to look like that."
I struggle with wanting what she has. I struggle with believing that I know better than God how things "should have" panned out for me.
And there it is.
Each and every day God whispers gently to me of his faithfulness. I don't always choose to listen or pay much attention, but it's there. I am more convinced today than I was seven years ago that God is walking WITH us through this journey. That may not mean anything to some people, but for me it's my lifeline. The pain I bear, I do not bear alone; even when my sweet husband is away for the week in the field, I am not alone.