Friday, August 31, 2007

My new compassion goggles

I spent some time today walking around a university campus. I was surrounded by young, glowing, fit men and women. I didn't hardly notice the men (to Berilac's relief) but I did notice the women. I look at these young women and I don't see their faces ... all I can see are their fertile ovaries and hearty eggs. I watch a girl jog by and I think, "you don't even know the gift that you've got!!" (and there's so many [most likely unappreciated] gifts that go unnoticed by this demographic! not to mention having good eggs!)

I think back to my days of youth (oh the days!) and I remember how I postponed even the thought of childbearing. How I enjoyed living on my own and being single for 6 years before I got married at age 24. How I enjoyed being married and carefree for almost 5 years before we started this whole TTC journey. I remember being that girl who ran by me today - caring more about my cool workout outfit than my ovaries. (Now I'm lucky if my socks match in the morning, as I try not to allow EVERY minute to be consumed by thoughts of "So God, do you have plans to grow our family?") I think back to all those times I sat in a restaurant, walked through the mall, spent a day at work ... never giving a thought to whether or not today was a fertile day. I remember hearing stories of women who were: pregnant, newly motherhooded, or chasing around a few little tykes at home ... and I would listen to the story or anicdote, make a good-active-listener type of comment and quickly change the subject to something "important".

These days, I realize that I spend a lot of time looking at women strangers at restaurants, on the street, on the bus, wherever ... and as the ages vary, so do my thoughts:

  • Under 30: Man, does she realize the gift she has?
  • 30-something: Does she have children? Is she struggling like me? Is she even aware of the infertility struggle she could have or others do have?
  • Over 40: Does she have children? Did she want to? Was it a struggle for her? Does she have pain around this whole topic that she doesn't share with anyone, a pain she just carries around quietly?
I look at all women now and I wonder ... have they had a loss?

I was sharing this "comparison attitude" I'm having, with a friend of mine recently. We agreed - It's so easy to look at a woman (and in my case a woman who has six children) and think "why can't I be her?" But in reality, who KNOWS what kind of struggles she has? ... What if she doubts herself as a mother? what if she's drowning financially with the "burden" of all these children? What if she feels overwhelmed as a mother and then shames herself for wishing she wasn't tied down with all these kids? ... worse yet, what if she's not in touch AT ALL with any issues/concerns/hurts that she has? What if she just thinks "it's best to not have ANY issues" (and thus pretends that everything is wonderful and thus misses out on the pain AND more importantly the GROWTH that comes with affliction!)

Here is where I would add a scripture reference for not comparing ourselves to others as the Bible talks about, however, I'm not finding it ... (insert your grace here)

When I look at women I see walking around at work, riding the bus, or at the grocery store ... I wonder if they're hurting, like I'm hurting. I've found that I not only look at women through my "fertility goggles" like I've been posting about, but through my pain I've picked up a new set of goggles, "compassion goggles."

... I think God is just starting to work on my heart.


  1. Wow. This is a great post and allows a wonderful glimpse into your heart. I agree, the Lord is starting to do something amazing in you and your Compassion Goggles are on and functioning.

    I've had a similar experience but my tendency is to look at people in restaurants who are sitting alone or those that are handicapped in some way. Yesterday, Frederer and I went to Amici's pizza on our way home from camping, and the place was totally buzzing. There was one man sitting alone and probably in his mid 60s. Another man was following his wife to a table and had a cane -- hobbling along, making marked effort to move his right leg.

    I often wonder what happened to these folks? How are their lives and what daily struggles to they have? It's nuts. The true test is what happens AFTER we have identified that person in need? How can we serve and give godly love? This is paramount to the Christian life.

    Then, my attention is snapped back to my own family as Gorbulas chucks a Green Eggs and Ham book at Ruby, knocking over her plate of pizza. Back to reality.

    Your discovery about being observant and sensitive to others is a huge sign of personal growth. As I mentioned at your birthday, in my opinion, the 30somethings is when you truly discover who you are. I am reminded of the verse that says, "Seek first the kingdom of God..." I don't know why but that's the verse the Lord just gave me as I petitioned for something to encourage you.

    It continues to be my prayer that somehow, someway, that in addition to being wife, daughter, and friend, you would add mother to your character definitions.


  2. Hi Polly!
    Thanks for the note on my blog! I think that infertility takes us on a crazy journey. The compassion goggles are a great way for one to stay grounded through it all. It's so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day insanity of IF, essentially causing one to forget that there are OTHER real issues out there beyond our IF world. Thanks for the reminder!