Infertility triggered the worst depression I’ve been through.
After four years, several procedures and surgeries, many drugs and the mental insanity that comes from some of them, we were no closer to having a baby than before we started. My husband was not interested in adopting and I had given up hope of ever being a mom.
To add insult to injury, I felt abandoned and betrayed by the God who supposedly was my friend. My husband and I loved and served God and knew we would be great parents but God was not helping me get the one thing I wanted more than anything else. If he was going to ignore me, I would ignore him. I turned my back on God, to the point where I wasn’t sure any God even existed, much less one loved me and had a good plan for my life.
People grieve mightily when they can’t have children, but I didn’t know of anyone who took it harder than I did.
I began to consciously take stock of where I was and how I got there. I realized there were several factors at play.
The first was a narrow focus. I was so focused only on the baby I did not have to the point I couldn’t even see, much less enjoy, what I did have. Things like my great husband, good job, nice house, reliable car, awesome family and friends. They weren’t even on the periphery.
I decided to refocus. I wrote down everything I was grateful for, and I was shocked at how long the list grew to be. I also told people how I loved and appreciated them. This practice retrained my brain to not only look for the good in every situation, but to find it.
Science confirms that gratitude is foundational to mental health, and a daily gratitude practice will rewire your brain to become increasingly grateful and happy.
I found myself slowly becoming happier, but I knew I needed more. I needed something to look forward to that was not a baby, to not only look at my past and present, but ahead to the future. I remembered a forgotten creative outlet and started work on a new project.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but each time I made a creative decision I was increasing my happiness.
Solving problems releases dopamine. That’s why games and puzzles make us feel good. Every correct answer or connected piece is a small problem solved. For a five hundred piece puzzle, you’ve solved five hundred small problems, releasing five hundred hits of dopamine. Each creative decision sparked dopamine.
With the tools of gratitude and creativity I learned to create my own happiness.
If I can create my own happiness, then it’s not about what I receive, or what I do or don’t deserve.
Therefore no one else is responsible for my happiness.
I began to examine how I had arrived at my beliefs about God, particularly friendship.
What is friendship? Isn’t the definition to do whatever you can to make each other happy?
The short answer is yes, your friend’s happiness is a big priority. You do things for your friend’s happiness that you wouldn’t for the general public, or even acquaintances.
But there’s far more to friendship than happiness. It’s a mutually supportive relationship built on trust, on truth and experience, between peers, equals.
But God is not my peer, and—huge reality check--our relationship is in no way an equal partnership.
It’s also far beyond a friendship. God is my thoughtful creator, wise shepherd, gentle master, strong defender, abundant provider, heart healer, dutiful and loving parent, and a truly trustworthy friend in all aspects of true friendship.
I had focused on the hole to the exclusion of the whole.
And he knew I would never be truly happy simply by getting what I want.
He knew I needed a new and better perspective, and an expanded heart, in order to be all I’m designed to be, to all those I’m called to love. I made it all about me, when it’s all about us, and everyone.
He was withholding something good from my entitled self until I grew into someone much better. Someone with a much larger, and truer, perspective, focused on relationships rather than happiness alone.
Someone who wrestled, fought, ignored, and left, but who came back a stronger, deeper, fuller person than before.
But he stayed. And always will.
When I finally gave birth to two miracle sons, the more that I became made me a better mom that I ever could have been before.
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