Desire to Inspire #41: Stop seeking joy

To my friends in the sisterhood of wannabe mommies,

I know your pain. I know your struggle, your wrestling and your fight. I’m in the trenches with you, and together we’re fighting a battle than only a few will ever fight. And I want you to know this truth: you are not alone.

I know that sometimes you don’t want to get out of bed because your dreams are happier than your reality. Sometimes my dreams are happier than my reality.

I know that sometimes you go grocery shopping in the middle of the night because you know you’re not likely to see moms and babies. And it seems a bit easier to get through a mundane chore if you can avoid young families. I’ve done that too, that hiding in plain sight in a desparate attempt to protect my heart.

I know that sometimes it’s easier to hide friends on Facebook so you are not daily reminded of their baby bumps and newborn pictures. I know your love for their babies is strong, and your joy for them is genuine. I understand that you live with two emotions constantly at war within you: joy and pain. Many will not understand that paradox: that you want to see their babies grow, that you pray for their children and for their journey through motherhood, but that sometimes the pain you feel for yourself is stronger than the joy you feel for them.

I know that you avoid the baby section at Target, I do too. It’s right there in the middle of the store, an unavoidable reminder of what we do not have. And as you check out you wonder if anyone noticed that you were the only one who did not stop to look at Easter dresses and little boy overalls. You weren’t the only one, but it feels like, doesn’t it?

I know you skipped Sunday School for five straight weeks after another baby was born, before she was big enough to go to the nursery. I’ve skipped Sunday School too, I’ve averted my eyes, and I’ve sat with the elderly couple at church because I can depend on them to ask about my week, what I’ve been up to, and how I celebrated the 4th of July.

I know the tears your cried when your cousin, sister, friend announced she was pregnant. They were tears of joy – joy for a precious life that is growing and will be loved by so many, including you. But they were tears of pain, frustration, and maybe jealousy, because that precious life is not yours. I’ve cried those tears. I’ve wept before the Lord and sought His face, and I’ve ignored His healing touch when I knew the familiarity of grief would be more comfortable than the newness of heart that He offers.

I know that sometimes the father of lies whispers words that make so much sense, and we forget they are lies. We think that this season of waiting is never going to end. This e-mail from a reader that I received yesterday epitomizes the communication I receive from many of you:

“I have been made to feel like I am not a real woman because I can’t have children.”

And I know that sometimes our friends and families offer cliches and platitudes instead of speaking truth into our hearts, and that when you’re in the thick of wrestling with God it’s hard to hold on to truth.

Oh sweet soul, I can stand with you in solidarity. I can come alongside you in your grief, your hurt, your hopelessness. I’ve been there, and sometimes I’m still there. I think this journey is one where we see two roads, peace and pain, parallel and sometimes cross each other. And sometimes we feel that peace and we don’t know if it is the calm before the storm, or the quiet peace that comes after a storm.

But I would be remiss if I failed to tell you two things that I have learned on my journey of infertility.

Jesus is near to the brokenhearted. I know for some of you that is no encouragement at all. I know because for a few years I recoiled at His closeness. I rebelled against His relentless pursuit. I hurt because of His persistent pruning. I want you to know that the Lord knows your pain, He knows your tears, and He is near. What I learned is that the Lord is near whether we accept His comfort or not. He is close, ready to wrap us in His healing embrace, and the choice is ours as to whether or not we accept that embrace. And sometimes we just need to be still.

Seeking joy is an exercise in futility. Oh ladies, I know that we look to so many outlets to offer joy and happiness. From comfort foods to sappy movies, from retail therapy to overly enhanced expectations of our husbands, friends, and families. We seek joy in all the wrong places. And I think that for some of us, joy eludes us no matter how diligently we seek it.

But I can choose joy. I can choose to delight in the smallest of things, like the hummingbirds that fight over my glass feeder, or my $2 lime tree that is filled with ripening fruit, or music that thrills my spirit, or an impromptu lunch date with my husband. Choosing joy is tough, and it is a day-by-day (and sometimes moment-by-moment) journey. Choosing joy in the midst of pain takes resiliency and strength, it is not for the faint of heart. And sometimes it takes a pep talk in the bathroom mirror, a truck-load of Holy Spirit-given grace, and your mama and best friend praying for you. But it can be done. Stop seeking joy and choose it instead. 

Stop seeking joy and choose it instead

Are you ready to be an inspiration? (To find out the purpose of the Desire to Inspire community, please read this post.)

  • Please visit the others who link up and leave kind, encouraging words for them. This is about encouraging, inspiring, and building up one another.
  • If you tweet about linking up, please use the hashtag #desiretoinspire so we can find each other.
  • Link up your own quality, read-worthy posts.
  • Focus on how you can be an inspirationnot what inspires you.
  • You do not have to follow ARD, but of course I’d love it if you would.
  • Link up your specific post, not your blog’s homepage.
  • Please do not link up giveaways, blog/social media hops, or shops.
  • Please link back to A Royal Daughter in your post (using the button below, or a text link back) or add this linky party to your linky party list.
  • If you would like to join the Desire to Inspire Facebook community or group Pinterest board, please e-mail me: royaldaughterdesigns(at)yahoo(dot)com.
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Amanda
Amanda
Amanda

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Comments

  1. Jen Stults says:

    Amanda, my heart breaks for your woundedness. I love this paragraph here:” Seeking joy is an exercise in futility. Oh ladies, I know that we look to so many outlets to offer joy and happiness. From comfort foods to sappy movies, from retail therapy to overly enhanced expectations of our husbands, friends, and families. We seek joy in all the wrong places. And I think that for some of us, joy eludes us no matter how diligently we seek it.” We can all relate to these sentences whatever our walk of life is, whatever our wounds are. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Mrs. Aguila says:

    Oh I couldn’t get through this one without some tissue!!! All I can say is thank you. I am so thankful to God that He connected us and that I find some comfort knowing someone understands, the battles that wage inside me. You are in my prayers Amanda! God bless you!!

  3. Brock Webster says:

    BEAUTIFUL, great view point and worth reading!!! I love the title nice play on words!! B

  4. Amanda,

    What a blessing you are! Every time I come here, I’m just in tears. I am a mom of many and sometimes (ok A LOT of times) it gets really overwhelming, but every time I visit a post like this, it just makes me break down and worship God in thankfulness and repentance. I know there are precious women out there who have been hurt, unintentionally, by the fact that I have a baby about once every year and a half. Reading this post, and others like it, have really opened my eyes to some areas where I’ve been insensitive without even realizing what I was doing. Just wanted to know that you are blessing women from all walks of life. Thank you for continuing to keep your heart focused on blessing—you are a treasure!

    Mrs. Sarah Coller

  5. Sarah says:

    I am linking up two posts this week – I hope that’s OK.

    My heart really aches for you and I really have no words of comfort. I am grateful that for me having children has never been this burning desire. I may well have a child one day, but I’ve never yearned for it the way others do. If it turns out that I can’t have children for any reason I think I would be able to manage OK. Like I said, it’s not a burning desire. I find it hard to put myself into the shoes of someone for whom it is a burning desire.

    I can only say that if it happens it will happen and be completely wonderful. If it doesn’t? You are a wonderful person doing a wonderful job of living your life as you. And that is wonderful in itself.

    Take care,

    Sarah @ A Cat-Like Curiosity

  6. Victoria says:

    We stand together my friend. Choosing to be joyful/thankful is exactly the choice I had to make, and it’s the reason I started my blog. I had to start choosing joy in what I DO have, or I was going to completely implode.

    It is still so hard on some days, to not let the weight of childlessness weigh me down. But God is helping me through. And so are you, sweet friend. I am so glad (and devastated at the same time) that we are here together.

  7. Such a good reminder that joy is a result of a decision, not something we pursue. Something that struck me in my bible study of the fruit of the Spirit, is that we get joy (and love and peace and patience, etc.) as we pursue God – not those qualities. For me joy goes hand in hand with thankfulness. Deciding to be thankful in a situation that is hard, it is a sacrifice, and it brings joy close behind it. Much love to you as you wrestle, yet choose joy.

  8. brittany t says:

    My eyes are filled with tears as my heart pulls at the pain and understanding of these thoughts & emotions. Although today my pain and sadness is not about children, I still understand. Choosing joy is difficult when you feel down, but we do have the power to choose to joy despite non-ideal circumstances. Thank you sweet amanda for sharing this today. With choosing joy, I’ve been reminding myself ALL day that my worth is in Christ and comes from Him and reminding myself of all the things He HAS blessed me with. Love you!

  9. veronica says:

    I’ve been just looking at the keys on my keyboard for…well more than 5 minutes, trying to put my thoughts into words. This is exactly what my heart needed to hear today. I have been letting myself listen to the whispered lies to much lately. Avoiding one of my very best friends because she is pregnant and I just cant handle being around her. It seems like everyday I hear of another friend, cousin, acquaintance who is expecting and I get a sick feeling in my heart….because instead of being happy for that new mom, all I can think about is how I wish it was me. It would have been me in a few weeks, if we had not had a miscarriage in January. Thank you for the encouragement to choose joy. I will certainly be working on that in the coming weeks and months :) Your words are being used in a powerful way!

  10. Amanda, I’ve read your last three post and they are so heart wrenchingly beautiful and raw. You are brave and strong for sharing your story. You stand out among women who wouldn’t dare talk about what you are going through. I know it may sound selfish to say because I have two kids already but I know what it’s like to long for a baby. I rarely talk about it but, for the past year I have wanted another child so bad and we tired and it didn’t happen. I can’t tell you how many tears I shed every time I looked at a pregnant test and it wasn’t positive. I can’t tell you how many times the though of snuggling a baby has crossed my mind and I fight back tears. I know I have two and I am blessed to have them and while I don’t know your pain, I know the pain of wanting a {another} child and not having one. it’s heart breaking. I think about you often friend and pray for you too. xoxo

  11. Mrs E says:

    I know what it is to want to be a Mummy so badly that you feel your heart will break . Please pray about adoption.Think about all the children whose hearts are breaking for a Mummy and family. There are many children available for adoption in the USA and many more in orphanages overseas. We are the proud parents to four precious beautiful kids from overseas. Being their parents is the BEST thing we have ever done.

  12. Hope says:

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    never give your dog chocolate by choice. Unuswual for any
    fish species, with the females, as they get older, their sex can change to male.

    Somehow having their own space ases the separation anxiety that most dogs experience.

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