Last month I wrote another post over at She Is Set Apart about some of the phases I went through as a single adult. One particular area of focus was the way I typically handled my disappointment or grief in the dating realm.
Now some of you may suspect that I might be one to employ the use of pity parties, but that, my friends, would be an untruth. I actually preferred the use of anti-pity parties and not only sought to find the most optimistic reasoning to help me sort through whatever situation I was facing, but I also scolded anyone who wanted to throw a pity party for me.
Some of my favorite phrases as a single person were things like:
“I don’t think I’m meant to be in a relationship, and I’m okay with that.”
“I’m so happy to be single again. Now I’m free to do whatever I want.”
“I love Jesus so much, and I’m glad there’s no guy to come between us.”
Almost immediately after breaking up with someone or realizing I had been single for longer than I would have liked, these statements would become my mantra. Throwing myself into living out these life mottos, with great zeal I might add, I never allowed myself to really grieve the loss of a relationship. There’s no room for sadness when you’re championing your newfound freedom, right?
History repeats itself
Well now that I’m married, I’m finding another area of grief beginning to surface. No, it’s not the identity issue again.
This time it has to do with babies.
Though Ray and I committed to doing our best to refraining from having children in the first year, there were a few times when we threw the chart (we’ve been doing natural family planning) to the wind and waited to see what would happen.
Regardless of our declaration to remain childless for a year, both of us became so giddy whenever the prospect of a child seemed imminent. We’d talk about how the child would look and what he’d be like and what kind of parents we’d hope to be. But every time the all too familiar “period” would come around signaling an end to that month’s parenting fantasies, we both felt that twinge of disappointment.
But being true to my former self I would immediately say,
“Well, I’m glad. We’ve got so much going on this year that I would hate to do while pregnant.”
“Guess God knew it wasn’t time yet.”
“I’m not ready to be a mom anyway. I just had a little case of baby fever.”
Stuffing is for turkeys
Now none of these statements are false, the same could be said of the statements I declared as a single, but they can be slightly deceptive. In my case, when I immediately snap into “find the optimistic approach” mode when dealing with grievous situations, I’m not allowing myself the appropriate space or time to deal with it. I’m just stuffing. We all know what happens to any vessel, especially one as fragile as the human heart, when it gets over stuffed. It breaks, and usually in a bad way.
Two nights ago I miscarried at 6 weeks of pregnancy.
When it first started I cried simply because I was scared, but once we realized there was no rebounding from the situation, fresh tears of grief were summoned and released. Ray, being the amazing husband that he is, just held me and tried to encourage me to stop crying, but after some time he realized that I needed to cry, as did he, so he allowed himself to add some tears to the mix.
That was all that I needed.
The time we took to just hold each other and cry truly allowed me to come to peace with the situation and continue to hold out hope for the future. Had I not been given that opportunity, I surely would have stuffed it and sooner or later it would begin to seep out in some of the most unseemly ways. Now I can at least use my optimistic statements and know that they’re coming from a heart that’s truly in the right place.
One of the things Ray reminded me of was King David and the loss of his first child with Bathsheba. He prayed and fasted and wept, asking God to spare the child’s life, but when his requests were denied, he got up, washed himself, and went to the temple to worship God. With my husband’s support we were able to actually praise God and receive his consoling truths while allowing ourselves time to grieve.
A season of grief is just that, a season
Throughout this new phase of life (marriage) I’m learning how to allow myself to feel sadness and grief and to learn what those emotions tell me about my inner desires.
Okay, you’re single and you want to be married. That doesn’t make you a bad person. So you’re married and you want to have a kid. You’re not displaying a lack of trust in God if you shed some tears expressing your grief at not having obtained one.
Our sweet Father desires to be the one we lean on when we need a shoulder to cry on. He doesn’t ask us to come to him pretending that our trust in Him leaves no space for the reality of humanity He placed in each of us. Humans cry. Allowing myself to cry and share my disappointment with Him will by no means open any doors to depression, which I think is a real fear many of us have, like once the tears start they won’t stop, but I truly believe there’s nothing healthier than to be able to release emotions as you feel them. I truly believe we’re more susceptible to depression when we refuse to deal with what we’re feeling as we’re feeling it.
Anyway, now that our first year of marriage has come to an end and we’re totally open to the possibility of expanding our family, I’m thankful for this lesson in embracing grief and being honest about its presence in my life before I end up picking up the fragments of a broken vessel.