I always thought the “gray areas” of life would eventually work their way toward one side or the other and become more polarized. But it seems once a subject goes gray, it stays gray and to try to color it otherwise usually appears unnatural. (Writes the woman who is not ready to be gray and so colors her hair.)
One such gray area is (still) babies. Some days I’m ok; other days I feel the anxiety creeping up from the pit of my stomach until I can barely breathe. It’s not just being in the presence of a baby, it’s conversations, too.
Avoiding conversations about babies and children in general is like when I used to try walking on the sidewalk without stepping on a crack. It’s fine as long as you always look down and concentrate on where each step is going to land. But look up and around, relax just a little, and bam! Stepped on a crack, broke your mother’s back. (An awful game, now that I think about it.)
Besides, real relationships are all about looking up and focusing not on where I’m going to land in a conversation but on being truly present with another person. For most people, woven throughout the conversations of life is the inevitable talk of babies and children because it’s what life is about for almost everyone I know. Think about it. It’s probably true for just about everyone in your life as well.
At this point, I’m pretty much ok when conversations include updates on toddlers and stories of genius grandbabies. I want to hear the stories of people I care about; I want to see the photos that bring them joy. It’s not their fault that I can’t participate, any more than it’s mine. (That one doesn’t ring true yet. At all.)
Still, being willing to engage with and eager to learn about the children in someone’s life does not mean that my own “stuff” about children no longer exists. Or that it’s easy for me. Sometimes it is really, really hard and I find myself blinking back tears that I forgot could still come with the snap of a onesie or a sweet song from the back seat.
And that – a thousand times that – is what people don’t get. I don’t blame them, I don’t really get it either but I’ve grown to accept it and to cut myself some slack. And no, I don’t feel like I’m “stuck” in my grief; I have come a very, very long way on this journey.
Therein lies the gray. Journeys have destinations, even the long ones. Short of saying that this journey will end in heaven, I don’t see ever “arriving” at a place where I am not affected.
I accept that, and I trust that God who has gotten me this far will continue to heal my heart. I used to read Psalm 37:4 to mean that I would basically get what I wanted. I’m not talking the lottery or passing a college final. I’m talking the deep-down, real dreams.
“Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.”
But of course I always wanted to focus on the last part more than the first. Delight in the Lord? Yeah, yeah, yeah, now when do we get to the good stuff?
Note to self: this is the good stuff. Delighting in the Lord is the good stuff. This life, with all its blessings, is the good stuff. The painful and the difficult, as well as the joyous and the beautiful, this is the good stuff. As are all the gray areas in between.