When I flip through memories to a particularly tender time of change in my life, I linger on the years when my husband, David, and I hoped to start a family. We assumed getting pregnant would be as simple as it was for so many family and friends, but we soon learned our own journey to have a baby would be more difficult. That time taught us that sometimes in life, not changing can be the change you encounter.
We also discovered wanting a change and making it happen are two very different things.
Month after month came and went without the elusive double pink lines on the pregnancy test. My husband’s frequent travel didn’t help matters, nor did the frequent questions of well-meaning family and friends, questions like,
“When are you going to start a family?”
“You know it’ll happen if you just relax, right?”
Even as those questions fastened like weights to my heart, they weren’t the ones that kept me up at night. No, those that kept me up at night were questions of my own making. I drove myself near crazy by continually asking myself:
Why can’t I get pregnant?
Is there something wrong with me?
Doesn’t God think I would be a good mom, too?
Of course, asking these questions certainly wasn’t wrong – nor is taking the time necessary to mourn loss or be sad. But I didn’t simply ask these questions, I thoroughly dwelled on them and the unfavorable answers I came up with. Since their answers undoubtedly pointed toward there being something intrinsically wrong with me, my questions became icy fingers that pushed my peaceful spirit far out of reach.
To save my sanity, I discovered I needed to do more than just answer my own questions differently. I needed to ask them differently, too. Anytime an unexpected or difficult change in my life brings a limitation in one form or another, I can change my view of the situation by asking different questions. And once those new questions are asked, I can answer them with words based on facts, rather than my feelings.
So how do I do that? I stop focusing on the outcomes of my circumstances. Instead, I focus on the purpose of my circumstances.
For me all those years ago, this looked like not asking myself, Why can’t I get pregnant? Instead, it looked like asking myself, What else does God want to give me? What else is he working out in me through this situation?
For you, it may be a different question. Instead of asking, “Why did I get laid off at work?” perhaps you can ponder, “What better job is waiting for me down the road?”
Or instead of asking, “Why did he divorce me?” maybe it’s time to consider, “What incredible ways will God provide healing and restoration to my life?”
When we steer our questions to their overall purpose in our lives, we make our questions work for us, not against us. We show ourselves kindness by believing in faith that God is moving in kindness toward us, too. Which, of course, he is.
My new questions became arrows pointing me toward peace, rather than waves keeping me in the swirl of uncertainty and self-focus. They gave me something healthy to dwell on, something my heart and soul could anchor onto and find rest in.
I wish I could tell you I took the time I waited to become a mom with an abundance of grace and patience, but I did not. However, I did learn that the limitations change brings do have their own purpose, and asking the right questions helped me travel a narrower path toward that purpose.
May the questions from your own hard change and transitions do the same. And in the process, may you and I learn a bit more about how to thrive through the difficult change in our lives rather than simply endure it.