I've made no secret of our struggles with infertility. We've wanted kids from day one, been proactively adjusting our lifestyles to make room for children. We've gone through phases of quiet waiting, waiting for the Lord to intervene naturally. We've also gone through phases when the Lord leads us to try doctors, medications, procedures, and tests that poke holes in us and cause mood swings and make the journey feel even longer.
Suffice it to say that so far, neither phases have actually brought us any children.
And you know what? Sometimes, that problem looms larger than it has to because we've just never been conditioned to face failure.
The statistics tell us what to expect. Seventy-five percent of Millenials will marry, and eighty-five percent of couples will conceive after one year of trying. The majority of Filipino marriages withstand divorce, and over half a million people in our country successfully finish college every year.
But we never expect to end up in the minority.
And to be honest? The minority isn't exactly fun.
Valentine's Day sucks when your singleness is shoved in your face. Mother's Day is the worst day of the entire year when you, still, somehow, remain childless. Seeing people celebrate their 20th, 30th, or 50th anniversary can come with a bitter sting for those in broken marriages.
Time and again, people tell me to go to certain doctors who are "so good and have made hundreds of people pregnant." What they don't know is that I've already gone to those doctors. I've been there, done that - and come home teary-eyed and empty-handed. People like me don't tell you success stories because we have don't have them.
And, also, because no one wants to hear failure stories.
No one celebrates the matchmaking session that ended with awkwardly ruined friendships. No one tells you stories of the times they've gone through intrusive procedures and ruthless rounds of medication just to chase that elusive next child. No one tells you what to do when your child's health is confirmed to have worsened rather than improved, despite your every effort to nurture him.
As Christians, when we give ourselves unequal expectations, then we're sometimes not ready to brave the disappointments that inevitably come with this life.
There are 25% of Millenials who will never get married. There are 15% of couples who will not conceive after one year of trying. There are 50% of Asian marriages that will end up in some form of estrangement or divorce. There are millions of people who face the daily reality of health struggles, widowhood, secondary infertility, or inability to finish school.
Only when the Lord is our Rock, our Strength, our Everything - can we be ready to weather those off-chances.
As Christians, we're not supposed to be poster children for earthly success. We're supposed to shine God's light and spread His salt by persevering despite earthly imperfections. Yes, the church can celebrate and give thanks for triumphs, but we can't neglect the realities of stumbles as well.
A truly strong Christian testimony should result in joy in all circumstances. A person dealing with his or her valley of the shadow of death should be able to walk up to other people in church and find true Christian encouragement rather than pity or disdain. We as Christians shouldn't be praying for a smooth-sailing life. We pray for a life of walking with God.
Having that walk is what strengthens us for real life. Having that walk is what guarantees a "successful" life - defined the right way.