It’s that time of year when you see pencils and backpacks on sale at the store, when buses roll by your street and parents hustle their kids in the car after posing for pictures at the front door. You roll your eyes overhearing a mom joke about breaking out the wine to celebrate the end of summer. Ug. Ignoring the cheeriness bursting around you, you put your head down and go about your business, trying not to pay attention to the throbbing crater in your chest.
Like so many other dates and holidays, the start of the school year can be tormenting when you’re struggling to grow a family. Even though my season of primary infertility has passed, I still remember what it’s like to open Facebook and get hit with a barrage of cute faces whose smiles trigger pangs of unfulfilled longing. Those darling First Day signs mock you like neon-flashing billboards that shout: YOU DON’T HAVE THIS JOY.
Though I haven’t personally suffered the loss of a baby, I know many women who’ve walked that dark road. They tell me that every year, come Fall, they remember the children they’ve lost and make a mental note of which grade they’d be entering. Dreams flicker in their heads, as they imagine what their son or daughter would look like now, then the next year, then the year after.
These are hard days to try to survive. Even though you can go offline to avoid the back-to-school fanfare, you can’t fill the void of the child you don’t have yet or the child you lost.
Friends, I’m sorry this season makes your ache worse. I understand it’s not that you don’t want moms and dads to be happy about their kids going to school. You’re sad because you’re missing this wonderful experience. You know that wanting children is a good desire, and for some reason, God isn’t giving you that good right now.
Let me reassure you that you are seen, not only by someone who understands your pain, but by a loving, gracious Savior who knows the inner longings and wrestlings of your heart.
As someone who has the hindsight of seeing God’s faithfulness unfold through infertility, I want to gently remind you about one encouraging truth:
You DO have joy.
Those who know Jesus have a treasure that will never spoil or fade. His love is real, pure, full, lasting. Who else would willingly die on a cross to suffer the consequence of sins He didn’t commit – to pay for your sins and mine? Who else could conquer death, stifling its sting by raising Himself from the grave? Who else can set us free from all our pain, sorrow, and shame? Only Jesus.
I know the back-to-school season dredges up broken dreams. But the hard circumstances of this life will never destroy our eternal joy in Christ. As Psalm 4:7 says, “You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound.”
Friends, let the joy of the Lord be your strength. Gather up the shards of happy moments you’ve lost or never experienced and cast them at your Father’s feet. Stand firm in the faith that He is good, just, and loving – not only to people who have kids to shuffle off to class, but also to you.
You can get through the back-to-school blues without grief crushing you. Take comfort in the Lord’s presence with you, right here, right now, and always. Your heart can never be more joyful than when it’s resting in Christ.
Some verses to meditate on:
“But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you.” (Psalm 5:11)
“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Psalm 73:26)
“So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.” (John 16:22)
“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” (Romans 5:1-2)
Jenn Hesse is a writer/content developer at Waiting in Hope Ministries and leads a local infertility and infant loss support group called Graceful Wait, in the Northwest. She and has a passion for equipping women to know Christ through His Word. When she’s not teasing her husband or chasing after her two sons, she writes at her blog, www.jenhesse.com.