May 30, 2011

The Question That Breaks My Heart

I think we all have at least one question that hurts to answer. For a single person it might be, “Are you married?” or “Are you dating anyone?” For someone unemployed the question may be, “Where do you work?”

For an infertile person the question is…

”Do you have children?”

Gulp. Don’t burst into tears, Rachel.


There is a pause from the other person, as she wonders how to respond. She will stop, uncertain where to take the conversation next. I used to try and fill that awkward silence and move the conversation forward, but now I just let it be. This is part of my life and I am not ashamed of it.

I don’t really blame people for asking, but every time I answer a small piece of my already broken heart shatters further. As I mutter my reply, I steel myself for the the follow-up statements and questions.

Most people don’t understand how that question and answer can break my heart. They don’t know all the emotional baggage behind my tortured, “No.” This baggage is born of years of longing, waiting, pleading, and being denied. There is a ferocity to my pain that most find disconcerting and mistake for bitterness.

As I respond, I can’t help but think of our lost dreams and the way I envisioned our life. This is not it.

People don’t see the tears I let fall when I’m alone. Or notice the sorrow etched on my face as I watch my husband play with little ones. Or see me cringe when they ask why we don’t have children.

No, people don’t know how much courage it takes for me to speak that seemingly simple answer. How can they? They haven’t walked in my shoes. They haven’t spent years researching, talking, praying, weeping, and waiting.

We all have emotional baggage. This is part of mine.

And I can be thankful for it.

Through this baggage I have learned so much. I have learned how to better empathize with other hurting people. I have learned that we all have some kind of deep, painful emotional baggage. I have learned that we all have grief so personal and difficult that it’s hard to share openly with others.

I have come to realize that God wants me to use my experiences to serve, encourage, and love others. He has a purpose for my life and he is equipping me to fulfill it. He has brought beauty and healing to my weak, grief-filled broken places.

It’s amazing, really.
I can honestly say that I am thankful for my infertility.

So if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for he will never fail you.~ 1 Peter 4:19 (NLT)

So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.~ 1 Corinthians 15:58 (NLT)
Rachel and her husband live in Maryland, home of the world's finest crab cakes. Her heart for women facing the struggle of infertility has led to an active, encouraging role on Hannah's Prayer Community Forums. When she isn't laughing with her husband, Rachel can be found cooking, blogging, and hanging with girlfriends.

Author website: Portrait Rachel