By Diane Hwang
I always dreamt of having three children. I’m not quite sure why three, but it was my vision for motherhood for as long as I can remember. My dream began to unfold in my late 20s when I met my husband, got married, gave birth to our son and then got pregnant with our daughter. I was filled with great joy as all that I had pictured was unfolding beautifully, but then the unexpected happened.
Despite a very smooth pregnancy, I experienced life-threatening complications during the delivery of our daughter. I woke up in the ICU to my doctor explaining that the only way to save my life the night before was to perform an emergency hysterectomy. As the day went on, I began thinking about the fact that my husband and I would never again experience the joy of those two little stripes on a pregnancy test, that I’d never be able to feel another child kick and turn around in my belly, and that we’d never again experience the delight of hearing that first newborn cry. Despite the excitement of our new baby girl, my heart ached more and more as I realized my dream of having more children would never be realized.
So what happens when our dreams for motherhood appear unfulfilled? How can we take the grief of a broken dream and move forward in faith? Through my own pain, I have learned three things:
(1) We must choose to grieve.
“A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance.” Ecclesiastes 3:4 NLT
Often when we experience loss, it seems easier to ignore the pain in hopes that the overwhelming emotions will lessen and eventually disappear over time. While it might initially feel easier to do so, it actually only numbs the pain, bringing temporary relief rather than true healing. When we numb our painful emotions, like grief, in hopes that they will disappear, we also inevitably numb the enjoyable emotions, like joy. Instead, when we choose to meet that pain head on and process it, God brings healing so that we are free to experience all the joy that is ahead of us.
After my hysterectomy, I wanted all the painful emotions to disappear so that I could just enjoy our baby girl, but I soon discovered the more I tried to avoid the pain, the less I was able to experience the joy of a new child. Once I faced the pain through counseling and many conversations with God, I realized that I was actually free to enjoy our sweet girl even more. It’s tough and it takes courage, but when we make the choice to face our pain, it yields healing, wholeness and joy.
(2) God grieves with us.
“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” Psalms 56:8 NLT
“When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. And he said, "Where have you laid him?" They said to him, "Lord, come and see." Jesus wept.”John 11:33-35 ESV
Even when we choose to confront our pain, it is easy to believe the lie that we are in it alone. We may even believe the lie that we haven’t lived up to God’s standard, so our loss is His way of punishing us or withholding good from us. It’s in those moments we must trust in His character and rest in the truth that as we grieve, God lovingly bends down beside us with great compassion and grieves with us. As the scripture says, He collects every tear and keeps track of every sorrow and I believe He weeps with us just as He wept with Mary. As we remind ourselves of this, the weight of our grief begins to lift as He lovingly carries us through the process.
(3) God will use our story to comfort others.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 ESV
“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones." Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.” Genesis 50:20-21 ESV
The incredible thing about God is that no amount of pain or loss is ever wasted when we surrender it to Him. He takes what was meant to break us, whether that’s infertility or divorce or a wandering child, and He turns it around to bring hope to other women. There is something so significant about being able to understand another person’s pain and then walk with them through it. Just as with Joseph, as you continue to trust Jesus with your pain, He will use you as a vessel to bring His healing and hope to other women.
I’m still processing the heartache of an unexpected hysterectomy, but I’ve learned that in the midst of broken dreams, God births an even grander story than we could have imagined. He is faithful to restore what is broken and breathe life into what is dead. Friends, motherhood may look different than what we pictured, but if we allow Him, God will take the pieces of our broken dream and rebuild what has been lost to reveal a story of a redemption and hope.
Diane and her husband have been married for three years and are raising their two small children in the rainy, but beautiful city of Seattle. After years in sales, Diane is enjoying her life as a stay-at-home mom and volunteers at her local church while her husband begins his new career as a police officer. She’s a lover of coffee, fresh mountain air, quality time with family and friends, and the Pacific Northwest. Check her out on Instagram and Facebook!