Without God, I mean.
When circumstances: choices you made, choices made by other people, even the stuff we believe "God controls" which are beyond our comprehension, weighs heavily on our hearts, our minds, our basic understanding of life, I am convinced this can create a new kind of burn-out.
I have literally just finished watching a really cheesy 80's chick flick about Romy and Michelle's high school reunion. These two twenty-something women were so desperate for the old school "AGroup" to like them, they were prepared to hide who they really are, just to fit their perception of what the cool girls would see as "successful".
And yet, here I am, with my own idea of "success" so heavily damaged and on the precipice of never happening, that I have been trying to hide it from myself, and others, for so long, I have recently experienced emotional "crash and burn". Not because I was desperate for others to like me or anything.... But because the whole journey of infertility is not one I should be constantly "banging on about", I should just "deal with it" and carry on with whatever life God has set out for me. Oh this is the bit no one wants to talk about when we discuss the failure of the dream for children, for a family. The constantness of it. The fact that it never goes away. The fact that there are times it can still be so incredibly overwhelming, even after all this time.
A couple of weekends ago it was the annual conference for work. On the last day, two women who are old enough to know better, made parting remarks to me like, "Hope it all goes well!" While smiling encouragingly, hand on their own bellies while looking across at mine. The curse of having problems like endometriosis and gluten intolerance creating a beautiful little balloon bump at the most inopportune moments, which falsifies the look you actually want and gives a very wrong impression!
That week, was the beginning of the crash. Not because of the things they said. No.... In a sad way within Church, this becomes the norm and one of the first things you learn to deal with. No, it was a culmination of the OTHER problems which rarely get discussed, including the toll infertility takes on your relationships. With yourself. With Hubby. With God.
And so now, two weeks later, while listening to Christy Nockles, I realise that I have been forced into carrying myself through this as a result of Hubby's withdrawal, and my subsequent withdrawal from God. By carrying myself, I actually mean dragging myself along the floor!
Not only can infertility kill your dreams, it kills your sense of identity, your hope, your trust and faith in a God who genuinely cares, hears and has a future lined-up for you; and the relationship with a Hubby who has a son, and so can't relate to the pain of having no child of your own. And so the cycle spins round and round, loneliness, emptiness, broken dreams, broken promises, wondering what will be, wandering further away.
And all this in secret!
No one must know!
No one must see beyond the mask and appearance that we are doing ok, that we are trusting God, that our marriages are intact and our future is secure.
The secret life we live in our heart and mind to which we stop inviting God to sit in with us, at least, we thought we had. There's only so much we can hide from God. There's only so much weight we can bear. There's only so much of a load we can carry in our own strength, until we break.
And then in His gentleness and mercy, He bends down His face to ours, wetting His cheek with our tears, scoops us up in His arms, and pours out His healing balm into the depths of our wounds, pouring His shalom into our anxious, troubled hearts, and lifts us out of the pit of despair, raising us up to stand once again in His strength, rather than our own, reminding us that we are not alone, He has never left us, and the battle is not ours to fight by ourselves. Even though it feels like it at times. Keep your eyes on Jesus.... He turns His face to yours, gazing into your pain and emptiness and will remain there with you for as long as it will take. He cares. He knows. He loves you. He is with you.