It's Mr. M. I see Mrs. M got to share some of her feelings lately with a post cleverly entitled "Blue and Barren." Yup, that sums up our life at the moment. I thought I would just give an update as to how the other half of the couple is feeling. As might be expected, it is pretty similar to Mrs. M. The big word that describes my feelings right now is "outside."
I feel like I am on the "outside" of a lot of things lately, but the biggest being parenthood. It seems like a lot of people have been very blessed to be able to conceive. Definitely I am excited for them, but then there is the big hole. The realization that I am on the outside of all of these pregnancy announcements, new joys, surprises, etc.
This was hit home recently when our friends were visiting. They have a beautiful son. We have a special relationship with them and their son feels very close to us. Nonetheless, the son had a big breakdown one day where the only person he wanted was "Daddy." I, of course, could not be the "Daddy." This, in turn, sent me into a whirlwind. I am, no matter how close to this little guy, on the "outside." I am not his Father and Mother who are the only ones that can comfort him right now. Sigh.
I also feel on the "outside" with the whole job situation. I am a doctoral candidate at a very demanding doctoral program. I am very close to getting my degree yet it seems very far away. I am writing my dissertation but it is taking a lot longer than expected. Academic writing is sloooooooooooooooooooooooow and not my first gift. I have a great knack for teaching, for learning, but writing is a challenge to me. So a job at this point in my life, even though it may just hopefully be several months away (hopefully May), seems so far away and I am left on the "outside" again.
I feel on the "outside" to the adoption process too. This too seems very far away and very hard to achieve, especially given my job situation and our finances.
I feel on the "outside" to time. That is, it seems that time moves slow for us whereas for our friends who were married, at the same time as us, they already have been blessed with not just one or two, but now three children whereas we have been stuck in the same position it seems from the very beginning of our marriage.
I feel on the "outside" whenever someone brings up the topic of purchasing a home. For my friends with children, this is the next big decision they are now considering. I die on the inside every time they present this as a "real challenge" because I am thinking about how to come up with $30,000 not for a down payment for a house, but just so I can have my first child (through adoption). Honestly, this is one situation I have very little patience for. But I bite my tongue and stuff my feelings in an effort to be kind and genuinely listen to their struggle to save this amount of money on one income.
Finally, I feel on the "outside" to life in general. We watched a movie last night called "The Martian Child." It is a really good movie and very heart wrenching. It is about adopting a child who had been abandoned by his mother and father. Given his abandonment and lack of love, the child felt very much on the outside to human life as a whole and pretended he was given up by his parents because he was really a martian child from Mars. This movie struck a deep chord. I feel a lot on the outside to human life as a whole when I am unable to conceive a child naturally with my wife. I feel like I am from Mars, like this little child. I feel abandoned too. Abandoned by whom? I don't know - nature, God, by my friends who were blessed to conceive? I don't know but I felt this kid's pain and this recognition of common pain made me want to adopt all the more or at the very least to help children who have "no home" in this world because of some kind of family tragedy (divorce, abandonment, bad parenting, absent fathers, etc.).
But this movie got me thinking on a deeper level. Perhaps being on the "outside" isn't all that bad. Perhaps it is actually the Christian life I aspire to live. Doesn't the Gospel usually present Christ on the "outside" to the religious and cultural elite of his day? More to the point, aren't we called to be on the "outside" of this world as a pilgrim church? Aren't we all then on the outside as pilgrims?
Yes, we are on a pilgrimage and this earth is not our final home, our final resting place. The world and all of its goods - even children - are destined for something greater. This fact gives me hope in particular - that there are no children born in heaven. It may seem cruel, but God has promised us that whatever great blessing children are there is a greater fruitfulness yet to come. Something greater than even children in this world - an eternal home with Him. Not just any home, but one of those great homes filled with radiant light, like the ones I was always drawn to in Thomas Kinkade paintings. The eternal home is also on a waterfall representing the beautiful rushing waters of baptism that we all share. It is also a great castle that keeps out all the evil and suffering we experience in the world. And finally, the beauty of the home is that every room in the mansion is filled with God's eternal Triune love that drifts through the house like the smell of your favorite meal.
Thinking of this eternal home, made me realize that "Yes - I am definitely on the outside and this is exactly where the Lord wants me. But, of course, I don't want it. Who wants the cross? Luckily, there is hope here too. I am not just on the outside, but I am on the outside looking in at the eternal home the Lord has prepared for me, a pilgrim, one day. Do I believe it? Oh Lord help my unbelief!"
Please pray for us. It's not easy being pilgrims and if I am being honest then I admit that on most days I am not comforted by these truths of faith. Perhaps only one day in fourteen or even far less. Nonetheless I believe them more than anything in my life, try to live them, and every once in awhile God comforts me. But quickly the comfort is followed up with that "the daily dose of dying" that is the Christian life. Lord help us take this medicine we need- oh how I hate it!