These Unfulfilled Longings on Mother’s Day

May 12, 2017

mothers dayWhat to do with all this longing?

All of us are longing for something. We’re longing for a husband, we’re aching to have children, we’re aching for the ones we lost, we’re longing to be seen and known by our friends, to feel successful, we’re longing to feel like we’ve finally “made it.” (Whatever that means.) We’re longing for justice.

There’s a man in Syria in an IDP camp who is longing to feed his family, who is longing for his homeland. When I think about him, my problems pale in comparison. He convicts me with his hope.

But still. Pain is pain. We can’t compare it or judge it.

It’s a soul ache we can feel in our body. Both heavy and hollow.

Longing is uncomfortable.

To sit in it, to feel it, is terrifying. We’d rather deny that it’s there. We’d rather numb it out with television and ice cream. I have those days too. More than I wish to count.

Our response is often to deaden our desire, to live dislocated and disconnected from what we hope for that hurts.

We cut it off and we bury it. When we do that, we begin to try and fill it in a plethora of unhealthy ways, whatever our drugs of choice.

It seems crazy to turn towards it. To fold into it. To stop running and allow it to overtake us.

Last week I thought I could be pregnant. I was both terrified and hopeful. It turned out not to be so and with another childless Mother’s Day around the corner, it seemed even more disappointingly cruel. I often skip church on Mother’s Day and head out to the wilderness instead so I don’t feel like I’m missing out on being honored. So I can celebrate doing the things I love to do and not feel like I’m missing out.

But Mother’s Day will probably always be a little bit painful.

A good friend also just had a baby after struggling through secondary infertility. I walked into the same hospital where I lost mine, to hold hers.

In the past, I might have blamed God. I might have railed against the unfairness of it all. I might have not wanted to show up for her. I might have cried for 3 days. 

But I didn’t feel that way this time. The previous day, I sat out on my back porch, feet in the sun, blue jays dancing in the cedar tree, the smell of dewy roses.

All of creation breathes longing.

The inhale and exhale of life becoming what it’s meant to. So much chaos, yet so much Design. We live in a universe amongst universes. We are a speck in infinity. Our specific distance to the sun and the moon, the specific tilt on the axis, is the difference between life and annihilation. We can only see a fraction of space that’s out there. Somehow God takes care of it all.

There’s some plan more vast, more intricate, and more miraculous than I can even comprehend now.

(If you’ve ever watched Cosmos, you know what I’m talking about)

We only see one segment of the story.

So I stopped the busyness and the running. I cried it out, the longing. I journaled it out, the ache.

Desire draws us in. It’s an invitation to the Divine. Longing is an invitation into God’s presence.

Stillness is a salve to our broken heart. 

What if instead of hiding it, or feeling guilty for it, we laid bare our souls to Him? The Psalms are full of the distance between desire and fulfillment. And yet David was a man after God’s heart. So in God’s heart is longing too. Longing for intimacy, longing for us to let Him in to the secret, most painful places.

I love what one of my friends Brandi Lea said this week:

“What if He’s not the one shaming our longing and telling us to put it away? What if He is speaking ‘Yes, you long for this because this is what I have placed in your soul.'”

So I asked to hear from my Father.

I envision I’m in a safe place, a garden, I envision Jesus is there too, holding me. Just being there in it. He is WITH me. I envision Him feeling my pain too. I’m not alone. This is empathy. God is with us in our pain.

We lean into it so we can learn to hold each other. 

I receive. I accept. I surrender. I grow. I change. I rise stronger.

Human kind is a story of rising.

I don’t have my own children, but my life is rich with mothering. I mother my book, my clients, my dreams to reverse injustice. I mother the hell out of my dog, Rosie. 

I can feel sad. But I don’t live there.

I choose not to. I choose to show up and go to the hospital with a big smile, and celebrate because my friend’s victory is mine as well because I love her. (It doesn’t matter that I broke down in the car parking lot before I went in)

The hurt isn’t bad. The hurt means I still want, I still have desire, I still have hope and that keeps me going.

Because I don’t numb pain out, I can feel the full spectrum of grief and joy.

unfulfilled longing mothers day

I get to experience the depths of God’s heart.

During this most recent disappointment, I was asking God what He wanted me to learn from it. I felt like He was saying He was drawing out my desire again, He was preparing my heart for something. He was telling me not to give up on the dream.

Don’t make an idol of it. But find Him in the dreaming and longing part.

I am not devastated. My story is not tragic. I’m an overcomer. I am not alone.

All across the world women are growing more bold in expressing their grief around Mother’s Day and infertility. 

We need empathy, not sympathy. We need Immanuel. 

When I went outside this morning, I noticed my succulents bloomed fuchsia flowers.

The desert bursting with promise.

Every unfulfilled longing is creating something, it’s giving birth to a new thing.

Strength. Perseverance. Empathy. Faith. Hope. Depth. Growth. Love.

It’s expanding inside us.

What’s expanding inside you?