There’s a song that Spotify has introduced me to that I can’t stop playing, it’s called ‘Sons and Daughters’ by Allman Brown and Liz Lawrence…
In an interview about this new track Allman talked about how the song was inspired by normal life. Where most songs are written about larger than life moments, extraordinary moments like your first kiss or other really big romantic ideals, his song celebrates the everyday things. The whole idea of the song is just two people in a house, because when you’re really close to someone you then begin to view the objects in your life or the space you occupy with meaning. This love song about everyday life has really spoken to me. You see, I feel as though I’m inhabiting that space at the moment. Nothing spectacular has happened to us for a while, which in some ways is great. I’ve not stepped inside a hospital for over a year and I love it! I’ve not had another miscarriage and my body finally feels as though it’s recovering, but I’m not pregnant either. We’ve had two years of ‘normal’ life, of companionship, of cooking together, watching films, going for walks with Betsy, our cavapoo and hanging out with friends. We’ve been living the life described in this song. I love the harmonies and the way the song builds, describing the beauty and romance of the everyday life of a couple, but it’s the lyrics of the chorus that have struck me most:
And I'll build a fire, you fetch the water and I'll lay the table, and in our hearts, we still pray for sons and daughters, and all those evenings out in the garden, red,red,wine. These quiet hours turning to years
I don’t know if Allman Brown was intending to write a song that spoke to someone struggling with childlessness but he’s done it. For a while I’ve been trying to work out what to write on the blog, I mean there’s nothing new to report, nothing’s changed. But maybe that’s where the story is. I’m moving into this new phase of my life as a childless woman, it’s undramatic, but I think it also has the potential to be beautiful. I’m living on the other side of struggle where hope remains, prayers are still offered up but life can no longer be on hold. Dave and I are living in that precious companionship that can only be found when you’ve faced the storm together and are crawling out the other side. My faith is both fragile and so very strong at the same time. I’m discovering more about who I am and what I have to offer, determined not to rely on my fertility to define my worth or value to society. I’m trying to live a good story, a story that has meaning. In learning to accept my current situation I’ve found a new comfort from the stories of the childless in the Bible. Yes, the majority of them end up with kids, but that’s not where their stories start. In fact the writers of the Bible are often more interested in the years of living with infertility than those when the infertile are finally blessed with a child, with the storytelling often ending once parenthood is achieved.
These stories of God and His followers who are childless focus more on their faithfulness, on the daily tasks of fetching water, lighting fires, laying tables and praying for sons and daughters. That’s where the story is. That’s where my story is now. I’m with Hannah who poured out her heart to God over the years she was childless. My story is found with Elizabeth and Zechariah who served faithfully for years as a childless couple, continuing to pray for God’s intervention. My story also lies with the Shunammite woman in 2 Kings 4:8-36, she’s one of my favourites – a childless woman who used the extra space she had in her home to be hospitable, offering a bed and food for Elisha whenever he visited. Instead of writing them off because of the Disney-like ending to their lives and the miraculous babies they’re eventually blessed with, I’ve realised I can learn from them. You see, they never knew they would end up having children, they lived in the pain of childlessness for years but the stories they lived out were beautiful, messy at times, but beautiful. They tried to move forward, they fought to remain faithful to God, to respond to His call on their lives, they continued to pray but they also engaged with the world as they were, in their broken state. They didn’t do that middle-class Christian thing of pretending they’re okay, trying not to make a fuss and telling everyone, including God that they’re over it. Their stories were ones of strength and struggle, their pain still present after many years, demonstrated by their responses of fear, laughter and disbelief when presented with the miraculous news of a child, warning God, angels and priests that this better not be a joke because they wouldn’t be able to handle it.
Now I’m not trying to say that once you have a child that your life is over – I’ve heard people say this – but it’s not true, God has definitely got more in store for you as an individual as well as a parent. But so often there’s a point, when you reach a certain age or you’ve been married for a while and people start to imply the story your living would be better if it had a husband or children in it, feeding the belief that the next stage of your life is on hold until this happens. This simply is not true. The story you are living out still has meaning regardless of your marital status or family size, it is not on hold, it is not worthless or uninteresting, it has deep value. You still have a story to live out, a rich and beautiful story that God is interested in, not because of what you have, or what you’re going to have, but because at the moment you’re trying to live a faithful life even though things haven’t gone to plan. A life of strength and struggle, of repetitive tasks and new adventures, of faithfulness and frustration, of saltwater and honey, now that is a story worth telling.