Thursday, December 2, 2010

Darkness and Light

The day we found out about our failed cycle was the same day that kicked off the holiday season. This is usually one of my favorite times of the year - as it is for many people - and I look forward to so many of the big and little things that come with it.

However, the moment these two events collided I had no desire to enter into the Christmas season. I immediately decided in my mind that we would not get a Christmas tree, since that would take energy to purchase, set up, and decorate. And I just don't have any energy. Besides, it's just DH & I, and we're not even here in our home for Christmas day.

Bah-humbug.

When we got home from my IL's house, DH immediately set out to hang our Christmas lights. It was already getting dark when he started and it was a cold night (for Southern C.alifornia at least - the low 50's), but I knew he wanted to do it to help cheer me up. Christmas lights are usually my favorite.

As DH put them up, I sat in the house and cried a little. When he finished, he brought me outside and we walked across the street to admire the white lights adorning our humble home. We stood with our arms around each other, and I was so touched that he worked so hard to do this for me. And I cried.

The next morning I turned the radio to Christmas music as I drove to work, which then made me cry. I stopped and bought a peppermint mocha on the way, but cried when I got into my car with it.

Everything Christmas themed was making me cry. All the happy, merry, cheery, and brightness of it all contrasted sharply with the pain in my heart. It felt plastic and fake. And everything around me screamed, "Christmas is about family" and all I could think about was the family I long for but cannot have.

Our church does an advent series each year, and the first week of advent is hope. We went to church with my IL's on Sunday so I did not hear the hope sermon, but my heart cried out to hear about this hope. I wanted to be reminded of what my hope is, and I wanted to know what it had to do with Christmas.

I have celebrated the advent season many times before, but each year the depth and richness of the traditions and the light they shine on the gospel have stirred in me more and more. And this year, out of the depths of my pain, I saw just how dark the advent season is, and it was refreshing. It is not about the happy, cheery, merry, plastic-smile-ness that I feel like the Christmas culture tries to deceive me with, but it is a time to reflect on the sinfulness, pain, suffering, and death that is this world, and it matched the darkness of my heart. I could feel that sin, pain, suffering, and death that all of creation felt as they waited for God's promised Messiah, because I feel it, too, as I wait for the promise of the Messiah's return where light will have victory over darkness....and there will be no more sin, suffering, pain, or death.

As I sat in that place, I was struck by two things. One is what an amazing, joyful, and miraculous gift was indeed born on Christmas day - a gift that answered the longings and groaning of all of creation. Secondly, I was so thankful that God meets us in these places of pain and longing, and that faith in him is not about putting on a plastic fake smile. He gives us the real hope and joy. But because I feel the darkness, I can rejoice in the light.

I am thankful the advent season is dark, and Christmas is light. It is raw, real, and genuine. I love so many things about the Christmas season, but it's ok if my heart is not into the "holly jolly Christmas" tunes, peppermint mochas, or Christmas trees...because as fun as they are, that is not what Christmas is about. And Christmas isn't even about family, despite what our culture says. I'm thankful that God is growing me.

I am no theologian or writer, and I always finish posts like these feeling like I communicated the profound ways the Lord is teaching me so inadequately. But I want to write them down, remember how he has worked in me, and save moments like these to look back on, at least. I am just one simple girl seeking to work out her faith with fear and trembling.

19 comments:

Kakunaa said...

Hillary, you ARE a family. A small one, but a family still. Don't let go of that, okay? HUGS.

A said...

I am slow to start all the secular Christmas stuff, too. My sister told me yesterday that she is finished shopping and I don't have anything for anyone yet. For some reason, I am feeling a very heavy hope. I hear the Scriptures every week about waiting for the day when we are all overjoyed and see the light of the Lord, and all I can think is that will be the day I find out I'm pregnant. Although of course the Scriptures aren't talking about that, they are talking about when we are reunited with God!! It's so hard to keep the big picture in mind when I'm so focused on the little thing(s) I'm missing. (HUG)

Heather in NC said...

I don't know you but I've been reading your blog for a while. I'm not a particularly religious person. I want to be, but I just can't quite get there. I admit to being one of those people that gets caught up in the bows and lights of Christmas instead of focusing on the true meaning. But his post was beautiful and has restored some true Christmas spirit for me. My heart aches for you and the pain you experience due to infertility. I, too, struggled with infertility for a time but have since made it to the other side with 2 beautiful boys. I'd love nothing more than for you to experience the joy of overcoming infertility. Whatever path you take from here, know that there are a lot of people out here hoping for you. I have hope in my heart that you will get the family you so desperately want and deserve.

kdactyl said...

Hillary...your faith inspires me. I know it will get you through these trying times as you and DH work out your next steps. I loved what you wrote.
kd

The Gist Fam said...

Great post. I can definitely relate to how you are feeling this year. Our teaching pastor taught on hope on Sunday - and it really was just what I needed to hear. It reminded me that my hope needs to be placed in the Giver instead of the gift. If you want to listen, here's the link http://harriscreek.org/podcast/11-28-10.mp3 - it's 20 minutes long. I hope it can be comfort to you during this season.

Britney said...

your faith is inspiring. God is working on your behalf.

MK said...

You write beautifully about pain and hope and faith. You always seem to describe exactly how I feel on all three subjects.
I'm sorry about your failed IVF, especially at this time of year. When I hurt badly I try as much as possible to trust in Jesus to help me through it. It's not easy but He does have a way of carrying me in my darkest times. :)

andreajennine said...

Amen.

Mellow said...

Although you may feel your words are inadequate, they are not...they are hopeful in your time of desperation. Hope is not lost, it is in the gift of God, the giver of all life...He is working in you, and you are sharing in a way that will work in others. Thinking and praying for you today. Our hope is built on nothing less... You are a gift. :)

Melissa G said...

What a haunting and beautiful post.

I truly do understand the darkness you speak of. We didn't get a tree last year, and aren't planning to get one this year either. You're right - it does feel so plastic and fake to put on a happy face, when all you can manage is to not cry in public...

I hope these dark days end soon for you - we all know you've had more than enough.

Hugs, friend.

Amber said...

Great post!!! This is exactly how I felt last year after our first ivf cycle failure, darkness. I am so thankful that God gives us the truth of Christmas and the meanings behind it instead of us trying to figure out where we fit in in our cultures way of celebrating Christmas.

Tabitha said...

Good girl. God is using you...

Anonymous said...

Hallelulah.
God is love.
May he continue to walk beside us as we fight against infertility.

heartincharge said...

You have done a more than adequate job.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post. It was an encouragement to me and exactly what I needed today.

Mrs. Hammer said...

Simply beautiful. Thank you for sharing the deep and personal insight that God has shown you. It is in our weakness and pain that God truly shows up to comfort and speak to our hearts. May he continue to comfort you and reveal more of Himself to you. Sending you hugs across the internet..Mrs. H

Missy said...

Great post. I have also been experiencing much darkness this holiday season and am finding hope and light more readily now. Praying for you.

One Who Understands said...

Loved this post. This time of year is so hard. I am glad you found something wonderful to focus on. You are such a strong amazing woman!

Kristin (kekis) said...

Thank you for sharing this. I am struggling in the darkness right now and trying to work back to the light. I am not mad at God, but I'm really wondering what all of this is about. Belief is still there and always will be, but faith that it will all work out is pretty shaky. I'm still holding on with you, though.