While it makes sense that the filters from the past, https://perfectjoyministries.wordpress.com/2013/03/21/filters-from-the-past/, and even from the present, https://perfectjoyministries.wordpress.com/2013/04/10/present-filters/, can make up the frame of reference through which we view the heartache and devastation that infertility and/or child loss bring to our lives, there is a third filter which also has great bearing—and that is the filter of the future. Whether we realize it or not, our expectations, longings, and plans for that which lies before us, also frames what we are experiencing in the present, and shapes it. Our desires often determine our initial reactions.
Here are some of those areas through which we will filter our current circumstances:
1. There are individuals that we expect to be involved with in the future.
This expectation can make our pain worse. If we are with empty arms, and we expect to have to associate with people, who we think will never understand our grief, we will begin to practice the self-protective action of avoidance. It may be emotional avoidance by remaining cool or it may be actual by withdrawing into isolation. We may also choose to avoid those who are expecting a child or those who may desire a child, in an effort to avoid having to deal with an uncomfortable situation ahead.
We may also have an expectation, for these individuals that we plan to be involved with, of them making our pain better. We may assume our husband or other family members or friends will come alongside us and support us, during our pain. We may believe that our church family will comfort and care for us through this loss. We need to be careful of this. We can place expectations upon people that are unrealistic. Often, we want more from people than they are able to give. Remember anger is usually the distance between expectations and reality. We need to place our expectations in God, not in our family and friends.
You who fear the Lord, trust in the Lord! He is their help and their shield. Psalm 115:11
On the flip-side, even in the throes of our grief, we can look beyond and see those in the future that we will someday be able to minister to, because we are living it out today.
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Philippians 2:1-3
2. The hope of redemption.
Having a grasp of Scripture, its promises, and God’s sovereign redemption, we know that even as today steals our breath and collapses us to our knees in anguish, we have the promise of redemption to come. Either here on earth, as we see the ripple effect in the lives of others or someday in eternity, when all the pieces of the murky puzzle of pain here, fall into place in His presence.
This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life. Psalm 119:50
Tenth Avenue North – “I’m Worn” – http://youtu.be/-METBrlP3xU
3. Experiences and circumstances we anticipate having in the coming days, weeks, and years ahead.
This can include the already mentioned ministry and redemption that we foresee rising from the ashes of our loss. Usually, great things are the direct result of adversity. If everything is always going perfect, we are never stirred to take bigger strides – to step out in faith and try something new. God often uses trials in our lives to detour us into wider avenues of blessing.
In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. I Peter 1:6-7
It can also be what we’ve already addressed in other studies—the fear of future hurt and loss. Grief takes us to places of the unknown, and in that unknown, we tend to project. We sometimes project that we’ve paid our dues, so now we should get our “happily ever after.” Other times we project that this grief means we will always have a worst-case scenario, and that we need to live in constant preparation for the other shoe to drop. Every day finds us on edge and braced for what might happen.
If you’d like to read more about this issue, please see the following posts:
4. Our life goals.
It is more than likely our goals that led us to this point. The heart longing for children became the goal of motherhood. But in our case, goals did not lead to fulfillment but rather to the emptiness of this loss we are currently living with.
We’ve had it so neatly laid out. The dream of “our life.” What will make our fairy-tale perfect. And now, our dreams have been broken apart, and our life is looking nothing like what we journal about or created them to be in our fantasies. And so, we either re-create them with a new and fragile hope, we deny them with unhealthy ways of dealing, we continue to press forward with our initial dreams, or we surrender to God’s plans for our future and lay our dreams at His feet.
5. God’s plans.
This is where our faith must come to its crisis. We will either submit to whatever God’s will is for our future or we will continue to cling to that which we believe we deserve. And one way or the other brings us to peace or attempts to control and predict—which frankly, leaves us exhausted in the end. Surrender to the sovereignty of an Almighty, Loving Heavenly Father is where we will find our freedom and our rest.
Submit yourselves therefore to God. James 4:7a
Original material by Melissa J Carswell, MA, BCCC. Holly M Besser. Perfect Joy Ministries ©2013. May not be used or re-printed without permission. bsbp33p04-17-13