Journey of Blessing: Bittersweet

If you are busy celebrating Father’s Day this weekend, I rejoice with you. However, if this year is finding you discouraged and frustrated, in the aftermath of miscarriage or the midst of infertility, this post is for you. As wives in this journey with our husbands, it can be challenging to grasp how this is affecting a man’s heart.

One important lesson I learned in the journey, is that I am not alone. Whether or not my husband is “supportive and understanding,” God still offers us fulfillment of our deepest desires(You can also refer to an older post “When Mother’s Day is Difficult” for some additional resources.) More than anything, my husband needs me to be a supportive helper for him, prayerfully encouraging and respectful.

My Beloved recently decided to journal about his thoughts, as he remembered a difficult season years ago. He has willingly shared a glimpse into his journal with us today as a guest post.

_________________________

“As a father staring at another approaching Father’s Day, I’ve found myself rather intrigued this year. On one hand, I celebrate as only one called “Daddy” and “Da-da” can. I want to throw my head back and gulp down the joy offered by the Day.

But when I start to tip the cup, the first drops mingle a bitterness with the sweet. There’s still a complexity to the Day, for me anyway. I also want to fully enjoy this brew, so I hold the Bitter in my mouth to explore it.

I do so publicly because I believe there’s value to others in doing so. Maybe my exploration will give you the courage to explore the Bitter in your own mouth. Quite possibly, you live with a man who can taste only Bitter this year.

The Lie is that you’re making up the Bitter, or that it’s unhealthy to savor it. Trust me, the Bitter is real, and savoring it- in healthy ways- leads to a greater appreciation for the Sweet. If you let them, both Sweet and Bitter will lead you to the Brewmaster, who gave up His Son to gain you.

When Sheli and I were newly married, we had expectations of being blessed with children right away. I didn’t realize how much I made this a matter of being provider of children until much later. At the time, I struggled with feelings of inadequacy.

I believed I was not only an inadequate husband, but I was a failure as a man overall. Mostly, I think, because no man told me I had made it to manhood It became my obsession then to prove to myself that I had what it took.

My arena of choice became my marriage. To ease my self-inflicted guilt, it became my goal to provide for Shel everything for her happiness, including children.

As the years slipped by without us conceiving, we grew increasingly frustrated. Personally, there was much fear under my frustration. As Shel would voice her pain and frustration, I took it as a personal attack on my ability to be husband. To dodge the hurt, I blew her off, assuring her that it would happen eventually.

Looking back, I see how much I hurt her by not simply sharing disappointment and pain with her. She needed to know she was not alone. I analyzed and predicted from a terribly far distance.

At last we agreed to go to Shel’s OB/GYN together for tests. When the results came back pointing the finger at my equipment as the source of our infertility, my image plummeted. The “cure” for “unmanliness” was sought in pills, when/when not to drink coffee, and in not having a cell phone in my front pocket. We tried these and other tricks to conceive.

I wasn’t getting it.

As a man, my masculinity can only be bestowed from my Creator through following Jesus Christ. At the time, there was little effort to seek Him. I was too busy trying to make my wife happy and myself fulfilled.

Then God in His grace did give us a little person. I was so relieved, I felt a weight tumble off my shoulders. I thought I had finally done it! I wrapped my heart and identity so tightly around that tiny being. I finally felt so normal.

Eleven weeks later, the doc couldn’t find a heartbeat anymore. We learned our child was dead. Shel went into the operating room for a D&C. I went into a numb cocoon. The pain of failure was there again, only bigger and more final.

I resented God for seemingly betraying me in my quest for masculinity. I resented my wife for not keeping her end of the bargain.

To make a long story short, I was brought to a crisis of faith. Of choosing fellowship with Jesus, really. Here’s what I learned during that crisis:

  • Don’t abandon your wife, especially when the fire is hottest.
  • The Lord doesn’t exist to make you happy and life easier. You exist to enjoy Him while glorifying Him in every circumstance.
  • The Lord has everything I need to thrive, even in the wilderness. I simply need to seek Him first.

My word to wives going through loss with their husbands, especially through miscarriage or infertility, is to remember that your man is hurting as well. Your man is different than you. He is not going to work through grief the same way you do.

Be aware that there may also be feelings of inadequacy linked to his grief, and these emotions may make it difficult for him to feel that he has what it takes to comfort you.

While this doesn’t excuse him from being emotionally there for you, it should be talked about and dealt with. It’s possible for you both to be free from personal dungeons while you grieve together.

Thank you for reading while I revisit what I’ve felt and learned. Blessings be to you in whatever season this finds you. Drink freely the cup the Lord gives you today. I’ve found that in so doing, I discover just how good the Lord is.”

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Photo Credits: alex-s, MaryTClark, Hamed Saber, Peter Heilmann

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