In this new spirit of honesty and openness:
Things I’m Scared to Say – Chapter One
My whole life has revolved around doing what I think will make other people happy. Partially because pleasing people does truly make me happy! But also because I’m afraid they won’t like me if I displease them. I know in today’s culture of woman-power, fear of what people think seems like an ancient problem to have, but nevertheless, in this forward thinking world of self-love and boldness, I have it.
After almost a year of counseling and journaling, most of which was done while not drinking, I am finally growing! I am finally aware of this fear, and I am less afraid of it. I’m not even too terribly afraid to tell you about it, although it pinches just a little bit as I write to you about it.
The Little Big Thing that finally brought this realization, and made me have to stand up on my own regardless of approval from other people, was that about 3 and 1/2 years ago, Jacob and I were told we would probably never have children. If there is anything that evokes a feeling of letting people down it is telling them you probably aren’t going to have children.
We had been trying for about 2 years, and finally had an answer. Strangely enough, both of us had thought years ago, “I bet we won’t be able to have kids.” But it didn’t stop us from wanting a family and so, of course, we went for it. (Isn’t it funny that when one thinks about having a family, her first thought is not to ask God if He has called her to have a family, rather her first thought is, “of course I am supposed to have a family!!”) But after two years and some testing, it seemed that it wasn’t in the cards to naturally conceive. Immediately I went into fix-it mode. We researched IVF and adoption furiously, deciding that adoption was the route we wanted to take. So 3 years into it, we had our home study done for an agency that we felt called to. A year went by quickly with no matches, and before we knew it, it was time to renew our home study. So we began the renewal process. As we started this time, though, both of us were feeling like we were just going through the motions, and not sure if we were actually pursuing the right thing. But we still pursued. I mean, we wanted to give our parents grandchildren! We wanted to have kids with our friends! We wanted to grow old the same as the traditional American family, with kids and grandkids! We also wanted to be the helpers to a birthmother and a baby who needed us!
Do you see anything in there about the well-being of a child? I mean, it was scattered in there a bit. It was. But strangely enough, the main reason I wanted to have children was for the people around us to approve of us. I wanted to please them all. And sure, pleasing them all would have made me happy. Until something else came along that would have made them unhappy. Because you can’t keep everyone happy. Probably you already knew that, but I didn’t know it deep inside. I only knew it in my head.
So we prayed a lot. We talked a lot. And once we both felt sturdy with our decision, we stopped our home study. We took our name off of the waiting family list. My fear is that you’ll think I am a quitter. (Yeah, I’ve still got some stuff to work on.) So let me explain.
Our culture, including our families, seem to expect some sort of sameness from us. I mean, I get it. When any of us experiences something so good, like being married, like having super success at a job, like having experiences with God, like having a family, we want someone else to experience it, too. This, in and of itself is very noble and kind! The difficulty comes when we assume others should experience the same exact thing the same exact way that we have. But no two people are alike, and God gives each of us different experiences! It turns out that the joy of being called to childlessness can be very like the joy of being called to having a child, IF we will stop comparing our experiences to each other’s!
And so true peace is starting to settle in.