Appearances

Things aren’t always as they seem. My family knows this firsthand.

Several years ago, I learned a very important lesson regarding sensitivity. A good friend shared that she and her husband had experienced two miscarriages. I was pretty shocked, actually. Miscarriages happen, and we all probably know one or two or maybe even a handful of women who have lost a baby. Still, I don’t think it’s anything you expect or are prepared to hear about.

When she shared her grief with me, the conversation eventually drifted to the question she and her husband had heard over the years: “When will you have more?” They probably heard that question in a variety of situations and phrased in a variety of ways. Likely, they also received comments about their son’s “only child” status. And, I wonder how many silent assumptions or even judgements were placed upon them.

My first response was to rack my brain to see if I had been insensitive toward her in this area. Likely, I had, unknowingly; and that realization stung. I just wasn’t thinking. I just didn’t know. She shared how the questions and comments made her feel. Asking a woman or couple whose had struggles whether or not they’re “ever going to have (more) kids” can just be so painful.

Ever since that conversation, I’ve been hyper-aware of this topic of conversation. If you pay attention, and if you’re in the right life stage, you’ll probably hear it quite often. It comes up very often with newly married couples. When we got married, Chris and I were prepared with an answer. But, wouldn’t you know that if you get pregnant your first month married, you miss out on an overwhelming number of questions and comments regarding your family planning. Ha!

However, probably a few months before Poppy turned one, we finally did start hearing it. Frankly, if I hadn’t been so aware of it already, I may not have really noticed. I am pretty much an open-book; and, for the most part, Chris and I are pretty united and confident in the choices we make.

Then, I joined my friend in a club no one wants to be a part of; I became part of an unspoken sisterhood; I had a miscarriage.

It was after our loss that my friend’s words were brought to life in my own circumstances. What made it especially difficult is that I had lost the baby so very early that we hadn’t had the chance to tell a soul I was pregnant. No one knew unless we shared the hurt with them. I felt quickly how painful it was to be in that situation of unknown grief and have someone comment flippantly, “About time for another one, huh?”

Yeah, we thought so, too.

Since our first loss, we’ve gone through two more miscarriages. We have no idea what the future holds for us, but we know we are in the middle of something big. God is moving, and we’re willing.

So, no – things are not always as they appear. In fact, I would argue passionately that things are rarely as they appear. We as sinful humans living in a broken world are fighting a challenging battle. Those without the Lord are fighting an impossible battle. That car that cut you off? Maybe the driver was distracted by the bad news he just received moments earlier. The rude checker at the grocery store? Maybe she left her house during an unsettled argument and is working through her emotions. Your friend who blew you off? Maybe, just maybe, you’d be ashamed of your anger if you knew the truth.

I’m learning a lot about compassion. I’m really not a compassionate and patient person; I can be overwhelmingly selfish. But, it’s funny how God’s uses your life’s story to make and mold you into the person He intends for you to be. I’m thankful for the lessons He is teaching me.

None of us deserves compassion. It’s easy to justify anger, insensitivity, or satisfying your own curiosity at others’ expense. That doesn’t mean it’s right. And, that’s definitely not the plan God had for us when He created you and me.

I simply pray that I can love others the way He does – putting their needs ahead of my own; serving them; considering them more important and their emotions more valuable than my own.

Disclaimer: I’m not suggesting that family planning be a taboo topic for you. In fact, it can be just as painful for me, personally, when people I’m close to and who do know about our losses fail to acknowledge our story. Every person handles the grief of loss, infertility, or ruined expectations differently. I simply learned from my friend those years ago to avoid making assumptions and to be sensitive and compassionate. And, I have found that it’s the gentleness and compassion shown to me that often matters more than what specifically is said. We simply need to love one another.

“A mother is not defined by the number of children you can see, but by the love she holds in her heart.” Franchesca Cox

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