I used to be part of the “get pregnant easily and have a healthy baby club.” Then, against my will I became a part of the “anti-kell antibodies club.” It was a hard transition, but I was glad to have so many supportive ladies there to help me. Again, I was forced to join another club against my will, the “stillbirth club.” That has to be the worst club of them all. But yet again, I found myself surrounded (mostly through the internet) by supportive, loving women who were all a part of the same club, unfortunately. It has been so sad to know all of these other women have suffered such a profound loss too, but it has been comforting to know I am not alone. I found solace in the stillbirth club, but was soon forced into the small group of women who have lost more than one baby. I was devastated 3 months later when I had to join the “lost three babies club,” and it was a small group of people. And now, after trying to conceive for almost a whole year, we are members of the “secondary infertility club.” Lately, I have looked around and realized that almost all of the women who were with me in the stillbirth club have moved on and been allowed to join the rainbow baby club. I feel like I am alone and forgotten here in the “lost three babies, infertile, 50% chance of another stillbirth, no rainbow baby club.”
One of my biggest weaknesses and one of Satan’s most effective weapons is the habit of comparing my life with others’. It comes so naturally that I often do it without even noticing. I compare my blessings and I compare my suffering. I eat his lies right up and believe them, because when I am blinded by my pain, they seem to make sense:
“You did something wrong and God is punishing you.”
“God has forgotten about you and does not love you.”
“You are a bad mom to Liam and Asher, so He can’t trust you with more children.”
“He loves those other women more than you since He gave them healthy rainbow babies.”
“You are a failure. God has failed you. Give up hope.”
“You are an embarrassment since you can’t even keep your own babies alive.”
“You can’t trust God, He only has more pain and disappointment ahead for you.”
“Everyone else gets to have healthy babies and no problems.”
“Those other women are more obedient to God and please Him more, so they get His good gifts.”
“God failed you with your biological babies, He is going to fail you again with your adopted baby.”
Oh, I could go on and on. I actually just laughed when I typed some of those out because some of them are so ridiculous. Actually, ALL of them are ridiculous. But I believe them easily and they affect me every day. Satan is a master of deception, and he knows our weaknesses. Many areas of my life are “lacking” when compared to other people’s lives. I am not wealthy at all, in fact we are considered very low income. I am poorer than almost everyone I know, but I honestly don’t care. It is not a big problem for me, it is not important to me. I have lived in a third world country and I have seen real poverty. I am rich and overflowing with material possessions. Often, as I am filling my kids’ plates at mealtime I can’t believe that we get to eat like this, like kings. Satan does not try to deceive me and convince me that my worth is tied to my income because he knows I will not believe it. It doesn’t affect me, so he has left that area alone. But my deepest desire, to have many children and to be able to protect my babies has been snatched away from me. To say it is excruciatingly painful is an understatement. It is my weakness, and Satan is targeting me in this area and it is a constant battle.
The other day I was making banana nut muffins for breakfast while I was listening to a podcast by Joni Eareckson Tada. I was missing Lucy and crying and feeling very discontent with God’s plan for my life. I was complaining to Him and I actually said, “Lord, I hate your plan for my life.” I was listening to the podcast in desperation, looking for some ammunition with which to fight the enemy. I’m not sure if you know Joni’s story, but when she was 17 she was injured in a diving accident that left her completely paralyzed from the neck down. She has had the most incredible life and she doesn’t feel sorry for herself. The podcast is called “Those Enviable Others.” It’s only 4 minutes, so I’ll post it at the bottom for you to listen to.
She talks about when she first started occupational therapy after her accident. She went into therapy and saw many other people in wheelchairs doing things like weaving, sculpting clay, hammering nails, and she was filled with hope. She was excited about healing and learning how to reuse her body. But she soon realized that she would never be able to use her hands again. She had the least amount of functioning ability of anyone there and she said,
I was the most paralyzed person of them all and my heart sank and my face felt flushed. It was my first experience of envying others…and it felt awful…I realized something that day in occupational therapy. I could not, I would not, no I can’t allow myself to pick up yard sticks and start comparing and competing with others. For my own mental sanity and peace of mind I realized back then that I dare not measure my circumstances up against other people in wheelchairs, people who were less paralyzed than I was. To do so would be for me to commit emotional suicide…When we do (compare ourselves to others), we are not only diminishing ourselves, we are despising God’s plan and purpose for our life. And it is always a better plan than what you see unfolding in the lives of others. God’s plan for you is that of the highest order and the best good…you have everything you need, everything that’s required for you to be utterly content. And if God thought you needed anything extra, believe me He’d give it. But as it is, what you have is all you need for your happiness.
And as I was listening to this woman in a wheelchair tell me not to envy others, I was interrupted by Asher pulling on my leg, begging me for breakfast. He was hungry and wanted food right then. I was still mixing in the ingredients and he wanted to see what I was making. When I make banana bread I use frozen bananas that were overripe when they were frozen, so they are black and grey and they make the batter kind of grey and oozy. I showed him the sloppy batter and said, “I’m making muffins but they’re not ready yet, see?” And he glanced into the bowl with a look of utter disappointment and frustration and walked away with slumped shoulders and loud, pitiful cries.
I suddenly realized that I was acting like Asher (except I am an adult and not a toddler.) God is making me something delicious and wonderful, but it takes time. I am hungry and impatient and He is still mixing in the ingredients. I am looking in the bowl at the batter and saying, “Yuck. I hate the breakfast you are making for me, Lord. It looks disgusting and I don’t understand why you would give your daughter, who you love, something so nasty for breakfast, especially since I am so hungry.” I don’t see the finished product, hot and fluffy banana nut muffins with melted butter dripping down the sides. I don’t smell the mouth watering aroma that is soon to fill the house as they bake. All I see is a sloppy mess of batter for me and I see these other women pulling their beautiful dishes out of the oven all ready to eat. Their food smells so good. I see what they are eating and I compare it to my cold batter and I say, “I want what SHE has, Lord.” And I am missing the beautiful, well thought out meal that He is cooking for me. My impatience, mistrust and envy are destructive and they rot the bones.
Proverbs 14:30 A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot.
Just because my meal is taking longer to prepare does not mean that it is any less delicious. If anything, it will be more satisfying to me because it is exactly what my body needs and the hungrier I am, the more delicious it will taste. Often, when I hear yet another pregnancy announcement, I cry out to God and ask Him why He won’t do the same for me and I always hear Him say, “I have something better for you.” It’s better because it is a life plan custom made for me and it is of the highest order and the best good.
Psalm 18:30 This God-His way is perfect.
Is there something you want that you think will make you happy? It is a lie. Is there something that someone else has that you want? If God hasn’t given it to you, you don’t need it right now to be happy. You can be content right where you are, and I can be content right here where I am, without a rainbow baby. One day you will notice the most delicious smell and it will be your own meal cooking, and you will not believe how good it is.
So true…I think everyone struggles with this in some aspect of their life…You could make these posts into a devotional book…
Ha! I could never write a devotional book, but thank you 🙂
Oh Bethany, I can relate to so much of what you have written in this post. I was seriously struggling with this just last week. I was feeling like God had forgotten me, and his ears were deaf to my prayers. And all around me, everyone else’s prayers, desires, and rainbow pregnancies seemed to be fulfilled. I’m so happy for them, but hurt and disappointed for me. I couldn’t help comparing, and wondering what I’ve done so wrong, and what everyone else had done so right. God has a wonderful, amazing plan ahead for us……but the growing and stretching right now is painful. I’m a work in progress :o) Sending lots of hugs and prayers your way
It is so hard to be in this place of suffering while others are in their place of rejoicing. Your turn is coming, I KNOW it. And yes, we are all works in progress. And one day, when you are in your place of rejoicing you will be able to help someone else who is suffering, because you know how it feels. Praying for you!
Beautiful, Bethany! Thank you for sharing!
Bethany, you are so awesome. At the start of this post, my heart was heavy for you and I was crying in pain and anger at the continued hurt you are having. And feeling guilt at being one of those people who have that rainbow baby coming (weird–when did that happen? Still surreal.) But as always, you make everything hopeful by the end of your post. Not only are the things you are writing so amazing and good, but your way with words is just beautiful and so clear. And so God-centered. I think you should write a book, seriously. And that makes me jealous because I have secretly always wanted to write a book! See, it is a never-ending struggle for all of us. I had a similar moment yesterday, walking and feeling sad for myself, when I saw a man who really struggled just to pull his body along to walk. Everyone has something to overcome, some being very visible like that and some invisible like our losses.
You should not ever feel guilt about your rainbow baby coming! I prayed SO many times that God would give you that baby. It is a beautiful answer to prayer. And I could never write a book!! You are so silly 🙂
my heart cries with you. I too have experienced the loss of a child and 16 years later I can say it does not get easier and I miss him every second of every day. I cry, cry, and I ask why? I haven’t gotten angry at the Lord but my biggest question is “Why?” The “Why” has never been answered. Just as I have held the hands of grieving parents of those who lost a baby when I worked OB/GYN in nursing, I have never been able to offer comforting words. Never. There are no comforting words when one loses a child. But God carries me and lets me cry and then He puts in my heart a desire to keep on living. I did lose the will to live. I truly did. God has given me 3 beautiful grandchildren that are my JOY! I know God will not drop me. I know Christ has prepared a place for us that love Him. I know I know I know I know but the gut wrenching pain still attacks me daily when I think of my first born. I’ll be there soon, David.