We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope. -- Martin Luther King, Jr.
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life. -- Proverbs 13:12
In the year that followed my son Matthew's stillbirth in 2010, I believed that everything would be ok once I could just get pregnant again. Once I could feel my redemption baby kicking around in my womb, once I could hold him or her in my arms, it would begin to make sense. I would tell this baby how I hated losing Matthew, but it was worth it because I have YOU.
For more than a year, I hoped and prayed and did all the things one must do in order to make a baby. I tried to approach it with patience; we'd been slow to conceive before. But month after month, I would stare at a blank pregnancy test, the stick assuring me I had no reason to cling to hope. Each month I mourned the loss of Matthew AND I mourned the loss of the baby I had held in hope in my heart.
After many, many months, my dear husband cautiously began a conversation. He knew how much I wanted another baby. He knew how much I hurt. But he looked at our three other kids -- no longer babies themselves anymore -- he saw us moving into a new phase of life, one without diaper bags and naptimes and containers of baby puff snacks. He wondered to me if, perhaps, the "having another baby" ship had sailed.
I knew he was right.
I hated that I knew he was right.
I hated that admitting he was right meant I had to give up my hope that Matthew's death would someday make sense. I hated that I wouldn't have my redemption baby, my baby that would remind me that, though I'd been through the wilderness, there was, in fact, a child of promised land now.
In addition to my grief about Matthew, I needed to grieve the hope for another child. I had to grieve that God wasn't going to wrap this difficult season up with a baby-shaped bow. I needed to grieve that this was not how I wanted my life to be.
How do we maintain hope when circumstances don't go as we would like them to?
Part of that journey for me has been truly understanding what I hoped for in the first place.
What I really hope for is:
- the chance to be a really great mom
- a family where love and kindness are the foundation
- a home where laughter and affection are abundant
- a family culture that is supportive of each other through & thin
Before Matthew's death, I had found all those things with my other kids. I wanted more of that. I wanted it with Matthew. I wanted it with the next baby. I'm a bit of a love-junkie, and I thought "the more babies, the better."
And yet, what I've had to learn as I navigated this tough terrain of learning to hope beyond circumstances, is that all I TRULY hope for is already present, more babies or not.
As I've started to come to terms with the disappointment that we will not have another baby, God has met me with the truth that the deep longings of my heart have, in fact, been met with my living children. He has shown me that He, too, is acquainted with suffering and grief, but also knows the desire for a lively, thriving family. He has turned my mourning into a deep appreciation for what is, and given me an awareness that I have the opportunity to choose to cherish the moments of joy -- and to even hope for more.
As I've come into a new perspective on what hope can be, I've moved from the deep heart-sickness of consuming grief to a place where I can take in a deep breath and delight in the scent of the blossoms on the tree of life.
**What does it look like for you to maintain infinite hope? I would love to hear your good stories, too!**
*originally written for the SheLoves Magazine synchroblog