The moment completely caught me off guard. I was sitting in a room full of 50 or so moms in a Manhattan church classroom.
I had known these women for only a few months and had already enjoyed getting to know them each. They came from different areas in the United States and abroad. They had different stories. But we were all united in the fact that here we were…moms of young kids doing our best to raise those littles in New York City.
Each meeting started the same: after a time of fellowship, we would all sit down and answer some sort of ice breaker question.
“Since all of us have been pregnant, why don’t you each give me your best pregnancy advice,” one of our group leaders (newly pregnant) said.
All of us have been pregnant?
And before I had much time to think of it, tears rushed to my eyes. As discreetly as possible, I looked at my phone with urgency and then left the room as if I had a phone call. Nobody thought anything of it.
It was more than 11 years ago that I had found out getting pregnant might be difficult. And for so long I yearned, I longed, I obsessed over that biological child.
But now, I had two beautiful children at home and had begun to rejoice and delight in the way God had written our story. If you’ve read anything I’ve written over the past few years, you know that I have experienced God’s incredible healing deeply in the midst of my brokenness.
And here I was crying over that infertility that I hadn’t given thought to in years.
But this time it wasn’t that I was crying over the lack of a biological child. I wasn’t weeping the same tears I had many years before.
No, these tears were new. But their source has been my constant companion: Barrenness.
This morning I was reading Psalm 113 and I saw something I’d never noticed before
He settles the barren woman in her home as a happy mother of children. Praise the Lord. (Psalm 113:9)
I have become a mom in a very different kind of way. A way that runs straight into the brokenness of our world and embraces the redemption inside of it. A way that walks the tight rope of that brokenness almost every day.
A way that strangers around me have felt free to question. A way that not all of our family members have understood.
A way that has created a very different sort of woman than I was 12 years ago.
A way that, yes, sometimes makes me feel odd and misunderstood when surrounded by more “normal” moms.
And a way that asks me to embrace my brokenness instead of denying it and allow it to be used for the good of others. And, if I’m honest, that sometimes stings.
I cried that day not for the biological child I cannot have. No, I cried that day because I didn’t want to be defined by my barrenness. I wanted to exist outside of it. But, I’m beginning to think God is asking me to instead embrace it. Live in it.
When I walked back into the room that day, I chose not to share what I had just experienced. And I think that was a mistake. Over the last year this group has become a significant source of encouragement for me. Many of them have become dear friends. I should have trusted them then but the truth is, I didn’t want their pity.
But if I had it to do all over again, I’m thinking I should have stayed in my seat, and when it came to my turn (tears and all) simply said, “I’m Amy and I’ve never been pregnant. And I’m beginning to understand that maybe it’s a gift.”
God’s healing of our hearts began to happen long before we became parents. And it continues to teach me.
My body is broken. But my God is good.