fruitful emptiness: a piece of the puzzle

Some experiences in life are so deeply impactful that they feel as though they become your entire identity. A child, unable to refrain from making mistakes and breaking rules in class, is eventually labeled a Bad Student. A young girl, starved for love and seeking attention in the wrong places, becomes known as a Slut. A man, having failed at love one too many times, goes from experiencing loneliness to becoming a Lonely Man. So it is with infertility. At first, we’re just having trouble getting pregnant. Eventually, the word Infertile finds its way into our internal narrative, finding a way to somehow preface every decision we make – how we spend our time, our money, our energy. How we perceive and practice intimacy. How we see our spouses and, most importantly, often devastatingly, how we see ourselves.

Or maybe it’s not infertility that haunts you. Perhaps it’s a sin from the past. Perhaps it’s professional failure. Perhaps it’s divorce. Or perhaps you’ve become successful at building what seems like a perfect life, but have found that it actually doesn’t make you happy. These are the silent ghosts that haunt us, threatening to steal our sense of self, our sense of worth, our sense of purpose.

Whenever I can remember to take a moment to distance myself from my persistent struggle with infertility, it’s easier to see that life is about so much more than this one problem. There’s a whole other person alive in me that is capable, joyful, life-bearing, life-giving, and happy, with or without the ability to bear children. I’m a writer. I’m a singer. I’m a songwriter. I’m a teacher. I’m a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend. I’m funny, charismatic, intelligent, and creative. I’m fierce, fair, honest, and loyal. Infertile is just one of the many things that make up who I am. It’s not the entirety of my identity. It doesn’t define my purpose as a human being. It’s not the beginning or the end of my story.

No matter what your cross, I hope you can take this moment today to rediscover your identity. Rediscover who you are, and remind yourself daily. Everyone was born with the gift of possibility. Everyone has space in the heart for joy, passion, and peace, and that space is forever crying out to be filled. Sometimes, it feels as though the only way to fill that void is by fixing the problems that plague us; with some problems, this very well may be the truth. But there are problems that we simply can’t fix on our own; some wounds that we can’t force to heal; some circumstances that we can’t simply drive away. In those circumstances, it’s much better to remember that the problem is just one missing piece of the puzzle. If we start with the pieces we already have in our hands, we just might have a better shot at seeing the bigger picture and remembering the true beauty of who we are.

Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:8-9)

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