Children Are Not Blessings

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Am I the only one who feels like everyone is pregnant?
Maybe its just me. I've been in the middle of a beautiful group of friends who all just happen to be pregnant at the same time. The sad new is that any pregnancy announcement has the potential to pierce my tender heart. What's my deal? It doesn't even apply to me. Why should other people's babies get my stomach in knots?
Its a long story that is summed up in one acronym. TTC. Traditionally it stands for "Trying To Conceive", but in my case its "Trouble To Conceive". My husband and I have begun our journey to baby number two. The path we walked to get pregnant with our first child was long and filled with pain and we are running into many of the same problems this time around. So yeah, pregnancy announcements are pretty potent stuff to me right now.
There has been a massive uptick in the pregnancies of my friends. As badly as I want to be immune to the negativity that brews inside me with every announcement, it was getting harder with each new pregnancy to handle the constant barrage of painful reminders. I wrote a very angry, hurtful, and hateful piece about infertility. I almost posted it here. I'm really glad I didn't because once something is on the internet it never goes away. I don't want that kind of sticky hate following me around.
By some freaky coincidence a friend of mine shared her big news of her first pregnancy with me the night after I almost pressed "post" on my rant. When the announcement came I was waiting for the secret bitterness, for the creeping sadness, for the little injection of jealousy to puncture my heart. I waited, then waited some more. It never came. Instead, I felt such a surge of ecstatic joy that I could not contain it. I stood up from my seat so fast that my craft I was working on flew off my lap and fell apart on the floor and I didn't even care. I couldn't think straight so I just repeated the same thing over and over like a crazy person.
"Are you serious?"
"Yes!"
"Are you serious?! Are you kidding me? Are you completely serious?"
"Yes, I'm totally serious," she said.
The light coming out from her smile was so contagious I could feel tangible joy and peace coming from her. A ton of words I never thought I would say after I wrote that hateful piece the night before came flooding out of my mouth.
"I can't believe it! Are you serious? This is absolutely amazing! I am so happy for you! This is the best news I've heard all day! Seriously, this is the best thing ever! I am so excited for you guys! I am totally serious. I am so happy right now!"
This continued on for a good two minutes. All everyone could do was look at each other, smile, and laugh at the joy of it all. I gave my friend the best, most well-meaning overjoyed hug I have given anyone in a long time. I almost cried happy tears. Seriously.
I continued to wait for the depressed, angry switch to turn on inside me for the rest of the night. It never did.
I was in the shower the next morning soaping up my hair mulling over that sweet experience and a strange thought struck me.
Children are not blessings.
Is that not the weirdest thing? People talk about their kids being the greatest blessings all the time. Blah blah, God has blessed me with a child, blah blah. Our family is so incredibly blessed. We were blessed with seven kids. Children are a gift from God blah blah blah. I get sick of hearing it.
The reality is that children are a responsibility. Babies are not gifts that arrive on my doorstep that I get to decide to keep or not. They are not signs of God's trust in me as a great potential parent. Children are not blessings that are given to me because I am an awesome person and have done all the right things in life. When the opportunity to bring a child into the world by birth of body or heart is presented, it is not a blessing. Its a calling. The blessings come from raising children responsibly.
Think about it. Am I, as a human being, a blessing? I don't feel like a blessing at all. But I do feel like I bless others. I bless them through my kindness, my service, and sometimes even by the challenges I present to them. My daughter is not a blessing. Through her sweet demeanor, her morning kisses followed by an "All better" she brings a tenderness to my life where there was emptiness before. By drawing on the apartment walls and spilling the lentils on the floor during dinner she blesses me with learning and patience.
She isn't my blessing or a promise from the Lord of His love for me. She is not even mine. She is God's.
He believes I am capable to persuade, guide, teach, and love her the way she needs to be for right now. But I can't claim her. She is her own person, a future adult in a half-size body. She is my call to action. By the very action of conceiving her, I gave my consent to take on the responsibility of caring for another person. She is not a blessing. She is a responsibility I willingly opened my heart and life to.
This experience of my friend's pregnancy announcement has been a blessing to me. It has taught me that I am not waiting on a blessing. I am waiting on another person on their own special timetable who needs me. I would not expect a fellow adult to allow me into their life until they were ready to open themselves to a relationship. I can't anticipate it would be different for a child. I cannot force, push, plead, cry, whine, complain, hate, or depress myself into a relationship with anyone, especially not my second child.
Does that mean this journey to baby number two will be easy for me? Probably not. I mean, I hope it is, but its still early and my anxiety anticipates the worst. I will probably still hope and cry, still share and vent, still thank and plead. There will be moments of torment and moments of peace but my perspective has changed. Unlike last time, when my experience of waiting for a child was riddled with confusion, depression, and bitterness, this time I will keep my eyes and heart on my blessings.
I have the courage to let my heart soften and turn towards peace in the midst of discomfort.
I have the grace to look my reality in the face and smile.
I am determined to grow my faith bigger than my fears.
I have the confidence to share my difficult experiences with others.
I am grateful for the tender mercies of friends sharing pregnancy announcements in perfect time.

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