Sometimes it comes in an unexpected conversation. Sometimes it comes at a big holiday or event. Sometimes it comes in a phone call. Sometimes it comes in a Facebook announcement to you and the whole world. And sometimes it comes in a text message. A very long. Very stuttered. Very merciful. Very kind. And yet very painful text message.
"I don't know how to tell you this, but I'm pregnant."
She's nervous. She's scared. She's been dreading it. She's been putting it off.
And she feels guilty.
And she shouldn't She really shouldn't. But she knows that there is absolutely zero way that she can share this huge, life-altering, joyous, inevitable news with you.
Without stabbing the deepest of daggers in your heart.
She knows that you've always been close. She knows that you've always been there for her. And she knows that you love her. And yet. And yet she wonders.
Will she hate me?
And you have always been close. And you have always been there for her. And you do love her. And you could never hate her.
But the part of your heart that jumps at the exciting, miraculous, divine new that you've just heard is overshadowed by the shattering of what's left of a heart that is drowning in sorrow, jealousy, and fear.
And never in your whole life have you ever wanted to feel something so badly. To be able to grit your teeth, tell your emotions to shove it, and push through with smiles, laughter, and join in the excitement. And so you try. And you try. And you try. And every time. You fail. Because, no matter the size of the pep talk you give yourself, no matter the amount of analytic that was passed on to you by your oh so logical and wise engineer of a father, you absolutely cannot, will not succeed in harnessing the "mind over matter" mentality.
But there is no mind over matter when it comes to matters of the heart.
Because Christmas came and went, and your miracle did not come. Because you are grieving, even still, loss upon loss upon loss. Because your doctor has just given you news that stacks just one more odd against you. Because you are facing the cost and anxiety of insanely expensive treatments and less than favorable odds. Because your hope is deferred and your heart is sick. Because you feel out of place with the people you have always felt comfortable with. Because you are jealous. Because you are sad. Because there is no end in sight. And because you are tired of being lapped by everyone else. Again. When you can't even get around the track once.
And as Max Lucado puts it in You'll Get Through This:
"[You] fear that the depression will never lift, the yelling will never stop, the pain will never leave. Here in the pits, surrounded by steep walls, we wonder, will this gray sky ever brighten? This load ever lighten? [You] feel stuck, trapped, locked in. Predestined for failure. Will [you] ever exit this pit?"
And those announcements are never easy to receive.
Even when they come from the women you love most in this world.
And you may not be able to pull it together enough to send the congratulations they deserve. Or to go to the showers. Or to buy the little bunny pajamas that their little one would look ridiculously cute wearing.
But some day, you might.
Because as Max continues to point out, "[...] life in the pit stinks. Yet for all its rottenness, doesn't the pit do this much? It forces you to look upward. Someone from up there must come down here and give you a hand. God did for Joseph. At the right time, in the right way, He will do the same for you."
And so today, I may not have the fortitude to gush out the "Congratulations!!!! <3 <3 <3" that she deserves. And I may struggle and fight and claw and grapple to get my attitude to cooperate. But last week? Last week, I did something that I never would have guessed possible. I attended and participated in a gender reveal party for one my dearest of friends. With all of the family and the frosting filled cupcakes. And the squeals. And the cameras. And the baby shower planning.
And I brought the bunny pajamas.
And it was. One of the most bittersweet moments of my life. There was no way that it would not be tinged with the sadness of my own loss and longing. But for one night. For one friend. I looked upward and was given a Hand of strength, of mercy, and of gentleness, to overcome. To smile. To celebrate. And to be joyful for her miracle. It doesn't sound like much. But it was the most victorious of milestones for this grieving girl.
And the next announcement will come, just as it did today. And it might be gentle, sensitive and kind. And it might not. And I will be glad. But I will also feel the inevitable sting. But I will try and try and try to show her the kindness and the joy that she deserves, though it will likely not be enough. And so here and now. You [all] know who you are-- let me just say. I love you. Do not, I repeat, do not allow my current calling to sorrow steal from your joy. The enemy would love nothing more. You can still love me (as I have no doubt that you do). And you can still cry for my struggle, as many of you have told me that you do. But do not. Allow. Your joy. To be stolen. I love you. I may be distant for a time. But darn it if when this season subsides, your little boy or girl won't have the cutest shoes in his or her closet. Courtesy of Aunt Becky.
And in the meantime, I will try to remember this charge:
"This chapter in your life looks like rehab, smells like unemployment, sounds like a hospital, but ask the angels. 'Oh, she's in training.'
God hasn't forgotten you. Just the opposite. He has chosen to train you. The Hebrew verb for test comes from a word that means 'to take a keen look at, to look, to choose.' Dismiss the notion that God does not see your struggle. On the contrary, God is fully engaged. He sees the needs of tomorrow and, accordingly, uses your circumstances to create the test of today.
Does He not have the authority to do so? He is the Potter; we are the clay. He is the Shepherd; we are the sheep. He is the Gardener; we are the branches. He is the Teacher; we are the students. Trust his training. You'll get through this.
[And] compassion matters to God. This is the time for service, not self-centeredness. Cancel the pity party. Love the people God brings to you." (Max Lucado, You'll Get Through This)