Monday, February 28, 2011

"Just Relax. It'll happen one day."

If anyone has received this advice, he or she knows exactly what I'm talking about.If you don't know, this is boiler plate standard response of anyone upon hearing a couple is having trouble getting pregnant. It is advice my wife and I have heard a countless number of times over the last 3 years. Let me go on the record and tell everyone, it is not helpful.

I know why people say this. When confronted with something that is not often talked about openly, it easy to resort to the cliche we have heard time and time again. We don't know what to say, feel like we need to say some thing, so we say this phrase. It is an easy tack on to let people know we care and are listening during a person's rough patch. It is like saying "Let me know if there is anything I can do" when someone dies or "It is what it is" when someone complains.

The normal response here is "Stop being sensitive." So don't take this as a rant against people's insensitivity during a couple's infertility. In fact, I would agree that often times infertile couples are very sensitive and respond poorly. There is good reason to be overly sensitive. This issue is constantly being brought up so it can't be escaped. In this sense, it is a lot like a single person's journey towards marriage. For DINKs (Double Income No Kids), this is the first question that is asked in a new social situation. Also, the time between "I do" and "Wah Wah, I need Mommy" is expected to be short. So, it is always the elephant in the room. In the USA, it is more than the dream of many to get married and start a family. It is the expectation for every red blooded American. Our society revolves around families.

While it is in no way easy, marriage is something we have some control over. All that is needed to two people that are willing. For procreation, there needs to be two that are willing AND able. Unfortunately, you don't know if your able until you are (or have gotten someone) pregnant. Couple that with the pride factor of "I'm not a REAL (wo)man until I become a parent with my genetic material," this condition often takes us totally by surprise. It is something we take for granted until we can't do it.

At this point, the blame game begins and the relationship gets stressed. Who's "fault" is it? Which one is the "deformed" one causing this problem? Is it just something not being done right(other than the obvious things)? So the couple gets tested. The problem is found out sometimes. Each person then needs to fight the guilt, or in some cases anger, over not being able to provide their spouse a child.

With the problem determined, a plan is now in place. The couples act. With their hope renewed, every month provides a great opportunity for joy and disappointment. Will it work or not? Higher highs and lower lows. Often times, these plans put women on drugs that mess with hormones which make mole hills turn into mountains pretty fast in the marriage. This costs time and money that they may not have thus increasing the stress that much more. At some point, the couple has to consider different procedures and the ethics behind them. That will determine how far they will go in this journey. In other words, when do they give up?

Other plans might emerge but still the longing to be a parent is still there. Adoption starts to become an option but it is a totally unknown world. Domestic or international? Which agency? Is become a foster parent an option? How much? A question comes to the surface, "Will I be able to love this child that does not look like me?" Would it just be easier just to continue to be a DINK and pour ourselves into raising nephews, nieces, cousins and the children of friends?

There aren't just pressures within but pressures without as well that point to the injustice of two willing and able people failing to conceive. After all of this, the couple then sees alcoholic teenagers look at other and get pregnant. They ask themselves "Why do they deserve it?" They see people complain and abuse their children. They ask themselves, "why do they take their children for granted?"  Maybe that one (or 30th) time where the pregnancy test flashed positive only to miscarry, they ask themselves "why the tease?" All this complicates a tense situation where telling a couple to relax is like telling some one on fire to just cool off.

So what can you say to someone during this time that will help? More than anything we need to be affirmed that this is not our identity or incomplete because we are not parents. We need to know that while we were created to be fruitful and multiply, sin entered this world. It is unfair for all of the reasons you think. The world is broken. God understands. He gave his son to adopt you as his child. The "biological" child died for the "adopted" one(s). He rose from the grave with the promise that all that is broken will be made right. All that you need is found in man who was single and childless. He understands your longings but in Christ you are a new creation, new mind, new dreams, new goals. You are not justified through procreation. I am enough and you can trust me.

Paul words in 1 Corinthians 7 have been of great comfort. After a discussion of marriage, he writes [17] Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches. [18] Was anyone at the time of his call already circumcised? Let him not seek to remove the marks of circumcision. Was anyone at the time of his call uncircumcised? Let him not seek circumcision. [19] For neither circumcision counts for anything nor uncircumcision, but keeping the commandments of God. [20] Each one should remain in the condition in which he was called. [21] Were you a slave when called? Do not be concerned about it. (But if you can gain your freedom, avail yourself of the opportunity.) [22] For he who was called in the Lord as a slave is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when called is a slave of Christ. [23] You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men. [24] So, brothers, in whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God. (1 Corinthians 7:17-24 ESV).

I will live as a DINK for the glory of God. In the meantime, I will pursue holiness and my new identity. I will seek your kingdom first, my wife second and becoming a parent third. I will rejoice when you bless others with pregnancy, whether i think they deserve it or not. In reality, non of us deserve it since we will all probably turn it into an idol that steals glory from you. I will weep with those that are hurting in this as well. This is what is best for me in spite of the fact if I understand it. I trust you because you have proven faithful in all areas before. All of the voices I hear are lies. I know you want us to be parents. I'll let you fill in the details how that will look (even if it is a no). I'm blessed with a wonderful wife and a wonderful life. I will rejoice in this moment and in this season as long as you will have me here.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Substitute

It has been a while but I've been pretty busy. I've up dated my blog design. I had to stop blogging because I realized it was an escape. It was a substitute to ministry. If I wrote it, they will come. Putting things out on the Internet would be the same as me going out there myself. I failed to understand my context. I'm was a fool.

I'm realizing there is no substituting human contact. Since January 3rd, I've been substitute teaching at Vantage Career Center as a High School Science Teacher. Not only could we use the extra money but it was a good way to connect with people. I've learned a lot about this community through the conversations I've had with students. More information than I could have gotten from Internet research.

But I found something else out too. When I do Internet research, it is easy to get mad, enraged or frustrated with the area. I also got very discouraged because I was seeing God do amazing things elsewhere. I was subconsciously hoping to substitute my context with another in hopes to get the same "awesome" events.

While subbing though, my heart has changed. Hearing stories, seeing things first hand and being challenged with the sins of people have melted my heart of stone and gave me a heart of flesh. Is it easy? No. Do I feel drained most days? Yes. I now feel again. Those stats are now faces with stories.

God made us for flesh and blood interaction. The Internet is not a substitute for community. Jesus became flesh and blood to be our high priest to interact with us. He could have just researched us from heaven but no. He came down to "tabernacle" among us. Why can't I do the same?