When You Can’t See What’s Ahead
Today I want to share a tiny piece of my story with you. This isn’t an easy post for me to write. I’m a private person and I’m careful when talking about myself. But I feel compelled to open up on this topic because I know I'm not alone.
I've heard it quoted that, ‘you have to go through complexity to get to simplicity.’ This I believe is true. So I will attempt to zoom out and tell my rather complex story simply. Because in the end, with perspective, I’ve been able to see it simply.
I love my life. I love my husband, my family, my daily walks by the river. Tea dates with friends. I love my dreams. I love lining them up in a row—staring at them and planning for them. Like most humans, these dreams are varied and surprising, incongruent and yet perfectly compatible. But the dream I’d like to share about today is my dream of being a mom.
When my husband and I married, we were both excited to start a family someday, but also, wanted to take some time to build our marriage and just enjoy us. We seek to live an organic lifestyle and opted not to go on the pill or an IUD and just kept things simple with some natural family planning. We’ve always been pretty open-handed about future plans and we would just say, “We want kids in the future so if it happens sooner than we planned—great!”
Two years into our marriage we bought our first home in a little town right on the Mississippi River. It was our perfect starter home with three bedrooms on the main floor. At this time, we became excited to expand our family. Our love and communication had grown and we felt we were ready to step into the next phase of growing together as parents.
But this didn’t happen as we had planned. And so began the season that I refer to as my "desert." When we started trying to get pregnant, I assumed our experience would be like the vast majority of our friends and their 1-4 month timeline. We tried for two and a half years.
I went to a naturopath monthly, underwent an unpleasant detox, had tests done, took almost 30 vitamins a day, and charted my cycle obsessively. What was easy for so many of my friends became a harrowing experience of me.
To some, two and a half years may not seem like a long time, I know couples who have tried to get pregnant for five, eight, even ten years. But when you’re in a season with no clue about what the future may hold, fear makes it feel like an eternity. If I knew that we would someday have a child, it would have made the season easy. But then again, I may not have learned all the things the unknown forced me to learn. Can you guess what that was?
I learned I had a lot of issues!
My character needed to grow. There were a lot of things I needed to let go of—including my perfect idea of what my future as a mother should look like. I needed to stop looking at what I didn’t have and thank God for all the beautiful things I did have. And as I stopped channeling the energy I had been expending into worry, longing, and frustration, and began using it to express my gratitude outwardly. In other words, I began to change.
“If we do not change our direction, we are likely to end up where we are headed.” - Chinese proverb
I realized that I had been unhappy for over a year, and not only did I want to be happy again, I wanted to be happy despite all future outcomes. Once I realized that I wanted this freedom in my life, it took several months to sift through and let go. I realized I had allowed some bitterness into my heart and that took some time to work through. I also, realized that it was healthy and okay to hope for a family again. This slow process happened in the summer of 2017.
And then we got pregnant the following October. Staring at my first positive pregnancy test, I was completely flabbergasted. I actually dropped everything, drove to Target and bought a different brand because I was convinced the first test was defective.
We can’t wait to hold our baby when she or he arrives in July. We are looking forward to loving, teaching, learning, growing and succeeding as parents. I’m a bit in awe of everything at the moment. Now, in the second trimester, my stomach is starting to grow, I’ve had some minor cravings, and crazy pregnancy dreams, but the reality is still sinking in.
Something I want to stress is that conceiving a baby isn't the cause of my current happiness. This was a place I came to prior to learning we were pregnant. I’m really happy I have dated journal entries and letters to friends that I am able to look back on for confirmation of the shift in my heart before there was a change in my circumstances. Learning to be content in the present, in the absence of a dream's fulfillment, is essential for a life of gratitude and joy.
This truth not only applies to fertility, but to nearly every aspect of the hard stuff about life. Health problems, a much-wanted relationship, financial stress, feeling stuck in a hated career, trying to attain citizenship, not being recognized for an achievement. The list goes on and on. All of these things are rooted in the natural fear of not getting something or of losing something important. In some ways, we rob ourselves of the fullness of joy when we finally get the thing we wanted, because we were so unhappy in the process of trying to get it. And as we look back, we are left to wonder if there was more for us in that desert that we opted not to learn.
I've said this over and over and I'll say it again: it begins with choices. The little mental choices of today. We choose what we think and how long we think it. We aren't victims of our changing moods or negative thoughts. We tell our brains what to think. We have the power to live the lives we want by choosing happiness even before our circumstances change. This was true for me before I learned that we were pregnant, so I know it can be true for you too!
Have you been in a desert lately? What are some areas that you can start speaking words of gratitude and truth into?