Writing in the Guardian today, Bibi Lynch talks honestly (and painfully) about her struggle with childlessness. If this is a live issue for you, it might be too hard to read, but it does give an insight into the despair and frustration that can accompany it. She says:
‘Being a mum has its difficulties – but they are finite and surmountable. If you haven’t had a child, that devastating problem can never be solved…You feel you have lost your identity? Well I’d say you have gained a better one…From every government reaching out to ‘hard-working families’…to tragic news reports that will always mention the loss of a mother before the loss of her equally accomplished no-kids friend, you, the mother, are worth more than childless me…do you really think I’ll be on my deathbed whispering ‘Remember me’ to the boss who gave me a promotion?…
..It is overwhelming to know that my legacy begins and ends with me…nothing that I have now means anything because that love is the love and I don’t have it and won’t have it and therefore have nothing…as my friend who has been through this said…’You won’t heal – because this is deep in you. What you’re supposed to do. What’s inside you to do. What we’re born to do. And you didn’t do it’.
Reading this, a part of me flinched and then shrank. She’s articulated the thoughts that surface around 3am when it feels like no-one else in the world is alive and you’re lying alone in the dark. I want to rail with her against the sadness of it all and I also want to deny all that she says. Is she right? Is this the love that I and others like me will never have? Is motherhood the reason I was created? Is it the role that gives me meaning and identity and a legacy?
I sympathise with Lynch with my whole heart. Yet as I read, what upsets me most is her utter despair. And I can see what motivates it. If she’s right and identity is shaped by motherhood, this life is all there is and that society dictates whether or not we are of value…then childlessness becomes not just a deep and aching pain, but the defining feature of my life.
But I don’t believe this. It hurts to not have children. But it’s not the final world. In Christ:
I am no longer condemned: Rom 8:1-2
I have purpose: Ephes 1:9; 3:11 and hope: Ephes 1:12
My life is bigger than my years on earth: Phil 3:20
I have been given every spiritual blessing: Ephes 1:3
I am overcoming : 1 John 4:4.
My prayer is that I, Bibi and others may know His comfort – not despair.