(Guest Blog from Jacqualine Leonard)
I LOVE to plan things. I have a paper day planner that I write everything in (I know, who still uses those with cell phones?). I write to do lists, my vacations, my daily, weekly and monthly plans and I love it. It makes me happy. In all honesty it gives me security, knowing exactly what I need to do and when I have to do it. But sometimes, life doesn’t work out as perfectly as in my planner. Sometimes people cancel, get sick, or get busy-Enter white out-“eww!” I hate changing my plans, almost to the point of it ruining my whole day. I say all that to explain just how much I need structure in my life. I NEED things to go as planned. I NEED to know what’s going on, and I NEED it not to change. Several years ago, however, God showed me that this NEED to plan is actually a need for CONTROL. Needless to say it doesn’t sound as pretty when that word enters the picture; who wants to be controlling? I realized I needed to feel in control- of everything and everyone around me- to feel secure, happy and content.
I remember dreaming this plan for my life: I will graduate from high school, go to college, get married and have kids and essentially live “happily ever after.” I never considered that the basic structure of my “plan” possibly wasn’t what God wanted for my life. However, mostly everything went according to my constructed plan. I did graduate from high school, I got married (halfway through college) and I graduated college- after 8 years! It wasn’t the “perfect” story but it worked and I was happy about it. Right around the time I graduated college my friends started to have their first babies. What an exciting time! I was happy for them, but part of me felt lonely and left out. Because it took me so much longer to graduate from college, I wasn’t ready to start that yet, but I really wanted to and it made me jealous that I wasn’t at that point yet. Everyone was entering into another stage of life, and we were not. It took me a while and a lot of crying, fighting, praying and allowing God to change my heart, but I was finally able to truly be joyful in their additions to come. After all, it was my choice not to start a family right then, so eventually I would have that too.
In the meantime, I shopped for presents for them, talked with my husband about our “future family” and bought little things for myself along the way. I am a planner after all! I had an entire closet devoted to my “future children.” I needed to be prepared! Now looking back, I realize that I was arrogant to think that God would bless me with children. It wasn’t a sure thing, but in my mind, it was never an option, it was in the plan. I remember standing in my room of baby things with my sister and her shaking her head at me. She said “I just feel sad for you. What if you can’t have kids, or have trouble having them? Won’t having all this stuff here to remind you make you even sadder?” My friends went on to have their babies and it was the greatest feeling and I was so happy for them! Part of me though was still jealous- I wanted to be a mom! They were entering into motherhood, and I couldn’t relate. They posted pictures of their cute little babes, motherly advice and struggles, and related to each other as momma friends. Time passed and jealously took root in my heart. It grew so big; it overtook my sweet little personality and turned me into something ugly. I was bitter, jealous and just plain miserable. All of this took a huge toll on my poor husband and he began to deal with his own issues of anxiety and depression. It was around this time that I selfishly thought, “Let’s start trying!”
2 months later, to our surprise, we got pregnant! It was an amazing time and we were so excited to tell everyone! I was entering the momma club and I was pregnant at the same time as two of my other friends- yay! Sadly, only a week later, we miscarried our precious little babe. I was overwhelmed. How could this happen to us? Why would this happen? I prayed a lot during that time that God would help me to see his plan for me in this, to build me back up to be a better person, not taking for granted the precious gift that he gives people in raising children. I also got mad, questioning why it had to be me that had to deal with this sadness. Why couldn’t I be normal like everyone else? Why did I have to be a statistic? I was angry, fearing that if I ever got pregnant again, that I wouldn’t be able to enjoy it because I would worry the whole time. I cried a lot, talked about it a lot, and dwelled on it a lot. Eric, on the other hand, did not. He did not talk, did not cry, and he did not want to even think about it. He just wanted to move on. His way of dealing with it hurt me. It made me feel stupid for being so upset and angry that he didn’t “care” about our little baby. This was not part of my “plan” and I didn’t like it. Moving on from that was very difficult especially with my two close friends being pregnant at that time. Thankfully, my friends are amazing and they really encouraged me, cried with me, and did their very best to try to be sensitive to our situation. I am so very thankful for that.
We decided (by my eager prompting) to begin trying right away. I mean that would fix everything right? After a few months with no success, I was frustrated and scheduled a Dr’s appointment to make sure everything was ok with both of us. The control freak was back and worse than ever. I could fix this- find something wrong, get it fixed, try harder and it would happen- no problem. My need to fill this void overtook my life. It made me into a mean, obsessive person. Frankly, the whole situation created so much stress that I frequently went to bed crying and Eric went to sleep mostly likely upset and confused (I’m only speculating his feelings here). I wasn’t seeking God, I wasn’t praying for his wisdom, guidance, acceptance, or His plan. I wanted my plan to work, and so I was trying to make that happen. I became super sensitive to anyone who made comments that were offensive to me. They said things like “It’ll happen honey”, God will bless you with a baby someday, ” and “as soon as you stop trying, it’ll happen.” They said, “My friend so and so tried this and they got pregnant, did you try: fill in the blank and “just relax.” All of these things made me cringe each time and made my heart sink and sometimes made me angry. I mean how could people say such offensive things? Don’t they know that they are hurtful?
Several months passed with no success. We had more testing done, and everything turned out normal and fine. I started dealing with feelings of insecurity. What was wrong with me? Would Eric hate me for not being able to give him children? Would I ever be a mom? What if I never had kids? Who will I be? Why is God punishing me? What did I do wrong? Can anyone else relate? Have you ever believed these lies that Satan tells us? I sure believed them and became even more desperate to make my “happily ever after” plan work out. We decided to start our first round of fertility treatments after about a year. I was obsessed, pushy and unforgiving. Eric, in turn, started to withdraw a little. The more I talked about it, the more he acted like he didn’t care and the more he internalized everything. It was stressful on our marriage, it was miserable for me and we fought a lot about dumb things. After a few months, it finally hit me that I was wasting my precious time, energy and emotions on something that I simply could NOT change. WOW- now how was I going to deal with something that I had no control over? The very raw, simple and honest answer is: I can’t. It was hard for me to finally admit, but I had a pride issue to get over. I had to realize that God is the only way to get through this, to find hope amongst the hopelessness, to find joy in the difficult time, and to embrace this journey that has been set before me because as difficult as it may be for me (and my husband), it is exactly where God has chosen for us to be.
It has now been 2 ½ years and lots of tests that all come back normal and we still are waiting for our baby. Sometimes, I still get jealous that I’m not in the “mom” club. Sometimes, I feel sorry for myself and cry. Sometimes, I get angry because it has to be this way. But I can say that ALL of the time, I feel peace. Peace in knowing that regardless of my circumstances, God loves me so much, and that he knows and wants what’s best for me. Peace in knowing that he cries with me when I’m sad, and he loves me just as much when I yell and stomp my feet. I have joy in knowing that God has blessed me beyond belief with so many things that I do not deserve ( I am a horrible sinner you know).Joy is not feeling happy all the time. Joy to me is about allowing Christ to change how you allow your circumstances to affect you, and not to allow them to tear you down and destroy all you believe is good in the world. Joy means believing that because God is love, there are things to hope for, dream of, and trust in. Those things are NOT things of this world: not money, not success, not babies or houses or material things. These things will not bring you true, lasting joy. Sometimes our man made “happily ever after” doesn’t happen and you know what- I can truthfully say I’m ok with that. I don’t WANT it to be this way, I always hoped for something different. I still pray that God’s plan for me includes me joining the “mom” club. But for now here I am, offering up what little I can give of my life to please my heavenly father whom I know loves me so much.
For Hope and Health,
(If you would like to contact Jacqualine to discuss anything in her post, you can do so emailing her at: email@example.com.)