By Elizabeth Berry
Originally Published in Be Still Magazine, Issue 15
I have hesitated every single time I have posted something about this pregnancy. I know many want to share our joy, but I’m also very aware that my pictures and posts could cause someone more pain. I am 100% sure there is someone out there who reacts like I did for so long… silently mourning, frustrated that others seem to have it so easy, even some who have previously experienced loss.
If she’s like me, her first thought when she sees any post about infertility or miscarriage is: “What do you know? Your story is not the same as mine. You may have lost two babies or twenty, you may have waited eight years or fifteen; but you are not me and you don’t know what I’m feeling or thinking. You can’t begin to understand my personal struggle.”
To which I would like to say, “You’re right. I can’t ever pretend to ‘know what you’re going through’ because I don’t. We are not the same. Our stories are different. Our pain is different. Our reactions are different.” But this I do know: Christ is the same. For the tired mother of ten, for the single girl in her thirties, for the discouraged woman in the middle of her third miscarriage, for the parents struggling financially so they can finally adopt, for the couple clinging to hope five years into waiting for a positive pregnancy test… He desires the same thing for all of us: that we would not place our value and worth in these things that we are so tempted to make our identities, but that we would allow Him to be our only hope, our only pursuit, our only identity.
I didn’t always think this way. Through multiple circumstances over the last few years, God has gently (and sometimes not-so-gently) chipped away at all my favorite idols until I HAD to realize that my identity cannot be in anything but Him. Not in whether or not my work makes me feel important or valued, not in my ability (or inability!) to have children, not in the behavior of the child I do have, not in my parenting choices, not in my husband, not in whether or not others think I’m a good Christian.
When I found out I was expecting this time around, I had truly come to peace with the idea that we wouldn’t have any more children, except possibly through adoption. When well-meaning people would tell me that “my turn was coming”, my first thought was always that “my turn” didn’t have to come! I am content in Jesus, and my value and worth in Him isn’t based on the number of children I have given birth to!
Marriage, childbearing, and adoption are all beautiful things, but they are also dangerously easy to turn into idols. I know I have lived years of my own life believing in some part that these things were somehow the pinnacle of spiritual womanhood, but that’s ridiculous. Christ calls us to be His disciples; it’s as simple as that. He doesn’t place His children in categories of value based on family size or anything else we would like to come up with. We are simply in Him, and He in us. When all else is stripped away, there is Christ.
So how do we reconcile our unique seasons of life with Scripture that describes the importance of motherhood? God has designed a beautiful way for all women (including the single and childless) to mother spiritual children: by inviting others into our lives and homes and lovingly showing them what real-life gospel-living looks like. This is the wonder of discipleship, and it is what God has intended for all believers in all walks of life.
Of course, I still pray that women longing for children might have them. I have a dedicated section in my prayer journal for women who have shared with me as they walk through loss, infertility, and adoption. I still mourn our own losses and difficulties. But my most earnest prayer is this: that we not place our identities in our fertility or family size, and that we would continually, daily find total satisfaction and identity in Christ alone. He is our one great treasure.