However short the trip, I love being back in Evanston. It is the place Daniel and I called home for several years. Yesterday morning, I sat with dear friends at a church I hold close to my heart. I looked around before service began and thought about the people who came and went during our tenure and those who shaped us in ways they’ll probably never know.
I love talking with Daniel about memories held in these places. We grew a lot as a couple in the years we spent here. We were knocked down by ourselves and others but we learned more about grace and forgiveness. The growth wasn’t easy, but I’m grateful.
While living here, we got involved with communities within the local body. My conviction to even begin opening up with others in our community about our struggles came from experiencing life with these individuals.
Life is messy and difficult. Living life in community is no exception. Sometimes, I think it’s easy to convince myself that bearing things alone protects others from pain. I guess in a way there is some truth in that thought, but it is surrounded with deceit.
One day I was thinking about all of the reasons I didn’t want to share our struggles starting a family. I didn’t want to be misunderstood, pitied, shamed, judged. I didn’t want to need others to comfort myself.
As I sat there, convincing myself I was fine, I thought of Romans 12, particularly verse 15:
Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. (ESV)
I quickly realized that my act of withholding this very personal and difficult experience was inhibiting the body to function as it could.
I found that when I am willfully suppressing the community around me by not divulging any information, I am withholding the ability for them to share in the joy and pain shaping my life.
So, I began the process of opening up. I repented of my self-sufficient mentality and embraced the truth that we are created as dependent individuals. I knew that I would stumble over words and be misunderstood, but I could no longer withdraw from my surroundings.
People from this community were some of the first I opened up to about our desire to start a family. They were some of the first to comfort and hurt when asking questions or listening. I learned a lot from the first discussions within these groups.
I find that others attempt to proactively distance themselves or their situations after you open up about pain. I understand the reaction also comes from a desire to protect from further pain and I appreciate the intent. But just as I was removing another’s ability to weep with me, this action stifles my ability to rejoice.
So, I have made it a habit to let those around us know we never want them to withhold news. We want to be alongside others who are rejoicing in a first, second, sixth pregnancy and weep with those who haven’t yet felt a baby move or have lost another unexpectedly.
Rejecting the idea that we can comfort and sustain ourselves is contrary to culture. It is a continual challenge, one in which I still fail. But with each conversation it gets easier.