A few days after we announced my pregnancy to the world, there was a For Sale sign stuck into the grass in our front yard. A man showed up to our house to take photos of the rooms, and those photos were uploaded on a house listing. Strangers I’ll never meet have stepped foot in the closet where my clothes hang, the bathroom where I first learned there was a baby in my belly, the kitchen where I learned how to bake bread.
My husband and I are renting this house, and soon we’ll pack up our things and try again to make a home somewhere else.
I shouldn’t be so sentimental about a rental house, but we made this place a home and had no intention of leaving it so quickly. There’s an unmistakable feeling of being uprooted, of having the rug pulled out from under our feet yet again.
When I imagined the next few years of my life, I always imagined them against the backdrop of this home. I planned how we would arrange the furniture to turn one of the rooms into a nursery - a comfy chair in the corner by the window, changing table against that wall, crib other there. I imagined bringing home the baby growing in my belly to the familiar white walls and beige carpet. I imagined more dinners with my husband in the kitchen, celebrating Christmas this year in the living room, and watching more movies with our friends sprawled out on the couches.
When I saw the For Sale sign stuck in our yard, I was angry, the kind of angry that makes your heart beat fast in your chest and your eyes well up with tears. I blamed my anger on the sign, an exclamation point at the end of dashed hope that maybe we could stay here a little longer. When I finally got quiet and honest with myself, I was really angry at God.
Every morning it seems I wake up with a list running through my mind full of unmet expectations. I expected more years with my husband before taking on the titles of both wife and mom. I expected my aunt and uncle to be in my life for decades longer. I expected my job to be fulfilling rather than frustrating. I expected pregnancy to be easier physically than it has turned out to be. And I expected to live in this home for years, saving pennies away to hopefully buy a home later when we felt ready.
It seems no corner of my life has been left untouched by suffering these days. And yes, I trust that the Lord is good and loving and sovereign over each of these events and yes, I know each of these things can foster a greater dependence on him, and yes, I know there are still good things, candles in the darkness. But those words are so much easier to say than to live into, and I still find myself waking up to painful reminders of unmet expectations every morning.
Last week I texted one of my best friends a long list of all the things going wrong, all the things happening and not happening, all the things I want to stop and the things I fear will never stop. At the end of it, I was expecting her to echo back to me my own shame but she didn’t. She said all the things I had mentioned were really hard, and I cried.
Every new wave of suffering kept knocking the breath out of me, but life carried on as normal. There was no break, no slowness to process all the things that were happening. There were still dishes to do and laundry to wash and hours to work and prenatal vitamins to take. I felt like I had to carry on as normal too, talking to friends the same way, working the same way, praying the same way. I never made space to acknowledge I am sad and angry and confused.
My friend acknowledged it for me, and I think the Lord’s comfort is like that too. He has been present, witnessing the pain of his children and weeping with us. He never asked me to pretend like everything was great.
Nothing has been fixed, and if I’m honest, I don’t even feel all that much better. I am still sad and angry and exhausted. Acknowledging pain doesn’t make it go away, but I think it is a step in a good direction. I found myself echoing the psalmist this morning and praying, “How long, O Lord?” because I want things to be different, easier. They’re not yet and they may never be, but it was an honest prayer and I think God is after our honesty.
I don’t know what house I will be living in in a few months. I don’t know where the crib will be set up or what door I’ll walk through when the baby inside me has made his or her entrance into the world. It’s a hard place to be. Even in that hardness, what I know is that my heart is ultimately longing for home, true home, and that longing will not go unmet.