When she gets pregnant, and I’m still trying.
When she has the baby shower, and I have nothing to celebrate.
When she delivers a beautiful child, and I experience a loss.
This questions creeps up on me no matter how much I guard my heart.
Why her and not me?
I hate this question. I hate the way I feel when I ask it. I never ask it out loud. It is always bitterly muttered under my breath in the dark corner of my heart that still has cobwebs floating hazily across my path.
I hate that this question shows me so vividly that I still haven’t cleaned out that corner. I’m ashamed that it exists. I feel guilty loitering there again.
I hate it even more when “she” is someone close to me, someone that I love and care for and want to celebrate with but can’t, because I’m stuck in my corner, and there are no party hats here.
This corner is full of boxes. I need to clear them out to get space to breathe, to gain a new perspective. I take the first box and look through it, hoping it will be easy to toss out. I should have known better.
This box is full of ambitions. All my dreams and expectations, carefully collected. Rocking the baby in the middle of the night. Watching her first steps. Teaching him how to ride a bike. Taking pictures before the first date. Planning weddings.
Other people have these things, so why shouldn’t I? Is it wrong to dream? Is it wrong to have a desire for happiness? I don’t want to let this box go. It isn’t even full of real things! Just the ideas of things. I am about to put the box back when somewhere down the hall of my heart a light turns on. I am so secluded here in my corner that only a few slanting rays penetrate the darkness. I hear a still, small voice say, “I have come that you may have life and have it to the full. But my plans are not your plans and my thoughts are not your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)
I know it’s true. I know that He is God and I’m not. So why am I still holding this box of nothing? Don’t I believe His plans are better? I believe. Lord, help my unbelief.
I open the lid of the big metal trash can and toss the box over the edge. I expect to hear the clang of my burden hitting the bottom, but there is no sound. I peek in to see that the box has completely vanished. I guess it really was full of nothing after all.
I grab the next box, feeling a little lighter. I open it up and can’t suppress a smile. It is full of my achievements. All of the things that I worked so hard for and earned through blood, sweat, and tears. College scholarships. Glowing performance reports from my bosses. Newspaper articles with my name in the headline. Thank you cards for my volunteer work.
As I sift through the items in the box, they each tell me the same thing, “You deserve this as much or more than she does.” I subconsciously nod in agreement. I’m a good person. I’ve done everything right. I’ve served God diligently. I deserve this.
The cobwebs sway imperceptibly as the still, small voice whispers into my ear. “Apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in Me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers.”
I know this is true. I don’t deserve it. I’m nothing without His mercy, and the moment I demand my rights or claim it’s not fair, I’m all too aware of how little I’m owed. I lift the box, hesitating as I brush my fingertips over all these temporary treasures that I spent so much of my life attaining. I don’t want to gain the world and lose my soul. I lift it into the trash can, and once again the box disappears without a sound.
I take the last box, a sense of hope growing that this corner may get cleaned out after all. I open it up and look inside with dismay. It is full of broken pieces of hope, odds and ends of plans, bits of dusty relationships, crumpled up and forgotten. The box contains my failures. A friendship that ended over something trivial. A list of unfinished projects. Consequences of mistakes that I made. Guilt and worry that this is my fault, that my circumstances are a result of my shortcomings.
As I rummage through the trash and rubble in the box, I hear their message loud and clear. “It’s her and not you, because you aren’t worthy. Did you really think you were someone special? Did you forget about the people you’ve hurt? About the opportunities you squandered? You don’t deserve this.”
My vision blurs as tears silently slide down my cheeks and splash into the box. I feel the softest touch wipe a tear off of my cheek. The still, small voice is so close that I can feel His breath as He whispers tenderly, “I know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.”
I know it’s true. Though I’ve failed, I’ve been redeemed. God doesn’t see this box when He looks at me, so why should I?
I shove the lid back down on the box. It’s so heavy that it takes all of my strength to heave it into the trash can. Not a sound. Turns out that it was empty all along, its contents forgiven and cast as far as the east is from the west.
I look around at the corner. The boxes had been stacked against the wall blocking the window. I push back the curtains and natural light fills the room.
Suddenly, I’m inspired. I know the perfect two chairs to set in my corner, with a little table in the middle. This will be the perfect place to sit and talk with a friend. And I know who to invite first. I’ll invite “her.”
I look around, surprised to see one more box on the floor that I hadn’t noticed before. I open it and laugh with joy. It’s brimming with streamers and party hats. It’s time to celebrate!
Erin Greneaux is a wife and mom to two daughters, Maya and Everly, in Lafayette, Louisiana. She is the author of “Inconceivable Redemption” and “Learnable Moments for Moms.” Erin has a passion for helping women grow in their relationship with Christ in each unique season by exploring the intersection of Biblical truth and everyday life. She spends her time writing by night and having tea parties with her girls by day.
@eringreneaux (IG) @greneauxgardens (FB)