I had one of those weekends where all I could think about was "what if?" What if we lose them, what if we have them for another year and THEN we lose them? What if we have them forever and they grow up to resent us and turn into delinquents?
I can't say what causes me to have these fears and feelings of gloom. I can say, being brutally honest, that sometimes facebook is really hard for me. It seems like page after page of newborn babies, pregnancy posts, happy pictures from the delivery room. And in spite of these beautiful children that live in my home, and my wonderful compassionate husband, I still struggle with bitterness, sadness, longing, and loneliness. Yes, loneliness. Infertility makes you feel like you are alone in a sea of happy fertile people who were blessed to be able to plan their families, and see the natural fruit of their wombs. Infertility makes you feel left out. It's like being the only kid not picked for a team in kickball, or not being asked to a school dance when all your friends are going.
This weekend I was seriously bummed out. Just watching the kids play made me sad. I couldn't enjoy them because all I could think about was how broken and imperfect this world is - and how broken and imperfect I am. I thought about their circumstances, and how they came to us- and I thought about what I used to imagine as my future. You know- a good old, pity party.
And at the height of my brokenness and self-loathing, the boys asked for a bedtime story. I reached into the big basket and pulled out three board books. "Pick one," I offered, already too distracted by my pitiful nonsense to pay much attention to the titles. John noticed one of the three books was Max Lucado's book, The Crippled Lamb. He muttered something about that sounding like a really depressing children's book. I didn't remember the whole story. I knew it was something about a lamb that was there during the nativity. In a fleeting moment, I thought about putting that one back. It might be easier to stick with Little Monster or the Berenstein Bears than deal with the complicated theology of barnyard animals as spiritual beings.
The boys followed me into the bedroom and naturally they picked "the lamb one." I opened the book and started to read, telling myself not to get emotionally dragged into the story. Max Lucado is great - but sometimes a little heavy for a Sunday night. Big C was sitting on my lap while Little C wandered in and out of the closet, talking to himself and counting his fingers. I managed to get through the first part, about how poor little Joshua (the crippled lamb) always felt left out because he had a bad leg and the other lambs were mean to him. I remembered parts of the story as I read (it's easily been eight years since I read this one) about Abigail the nice old cow who encouraged Joshua that "God has a special place for those who feel left out." Why did that stupid dreamy-eyed cow have to say that? I got choked up on page two. Big C was sitting in my lap and he pointed to the drawing of the cow. "Is that his new mommy?" He asked. I sniffed. "Yes, she's . . . well, she's like his foster . . . foster mom." And then I really fell apart. Joshua the lamb was not able to go into the fields with the other lambs because he was crippled. He was different. He was broken. And my heart was just broken. I cried big, crocodile tears, desperately trying to pull myself together. But who was I crying for? The fictional lamb with a disability? For the next few pages, Joshua watches the birth of Christ unfold in the stable where he was left behind with Abigail the cow. When the baby Jesus is cold, Joshua curls up beside him to keep him warm and he stops crying. And then Joshua is reminded of Abigail's words: God does have a special place for those who feel left out.
As I wept my way through this children's book, Big C looked at me with complete astonishment. "You really ARE crying!" he exclaimed. "Yes, I am," I replied. Little C had stopped digging in his diaper long enough to notice my emotional breakdown.
"What's wrong with you?" Big C asked, "It's just a story. Besides it's all okay now, see, he's not sad anymore."
He was right. Joshua, the crippled lamb, made peace with his disability and his loss. He accepted God's purpose for his life, and was glad- maybe delighted - to be "the one" who stayed behind in the stable and got to be with Jesus.
And I'm gonna get there too- one day. But in the meantime, I hugged my little ones tight. They are mine for right now. I am here in this moment for this reason, just like Joshua.