Yesterday I listened to a sermon about David and Goliath. Referencing Malcolm Gladwell’s book, the pastor shared that the way to defeat a “giant” is to admit your weakness, then find an unconventional solution to take down the giant. In David’s case, he admitted that he couldn’t bear the weight (both literally and figuratively) of the battle gear. So, he took off the armor and revealed his weakness. Rather than feeling beholden to the battle conventions of the day, Daniel walked toward Goliath with a few small stones and a slingshot. The giant wasn’t expecting a young boy and he certainly wasn’t prepared for a stone shot to his head. By being honest about his weakness and creative in his approach, David was able to beat a giant that an army of men were afraid to go up against.
This sermon and interpretation of David and Goliath got me thinking about my own giant and the way I have chosen to battle her.
If you’ve been reading my blog for long, you know what my giant is: infertility. Almost from the beginning of my diagnosis, I have been open about my “weakness” if you want to call it that. I’ve been upfront about my diagnosis. I have been authentic in my response to it. In those early days, I discovered that not many people (and by that I mean none) have shared about their journey with infertility and the path to not having children by choice. I felt so alone. I felt like our decision wasn’t acceptable. I felt like this was a secret no one was willing to talk about. I felt ashamed and broken and not whole.
Based on what I found in my research (very little), society was telling me that:
1. I shouldn’t talk about it, and
2. The path we chose was incorrect.
I wasn’t aware of the strategy named above about battling giants: revealing your weakness and using an unconventional solution. However, I had read Daring Greatly and Rising Strong. I did know a thing or two about vulnerability and authenticity. And, only a few months earlier I started blogging regularly. So, I took a risk and put it out there.
I revealed my struggle. I was upfront about my needs – I needed people to listen, not to offer solutions. I needed people to remember me, not to let my pain subside when they no longer saw me crying. I was upfront about my faith – I shared about my understanding of Jesus’ death and God’s presence in the suffering. I was upfront about people I could be around and those who I needed to distance myself from. I was upfront about my pain and deep sorrow.
Through these revelations I discovered my unconventional approach to this giant called infertility. I exposed it – I wouldn’t let this giant keep me isolated. I wouldn’t let this giant keep me quiet. Rather, I put this giant out there for others to see up close and personal. This required me to be quite vulnerable – with family, friends, co-workers and even strangers. This giant is personal and intimate, which is why most people keep it hidden in a closet at home for no one to see or hear about. Infertility is about as intimate as one can get when you consider all the different factors involved. It’s no wonder that few people want to share it with the world.
However, that’s where this giant traps us. The intimacy of it keeps us quiet and alone. She keeps us afraid and embarrassed. This giant plays on every insecurity there is.
I could have stayed quiet but I didn’t want this giant to have the last word. And, it won’t. Ever. I could have waited until I had defeated the giant, but then I would have lost out on all the support I’ve received over the last two years.
Throughout this journey I’ve had people tell me how much my writing has helped them – some through their own fertility journey, but not all. Infertility is just one of many types of loss we experience in life – another road of grief. I didn’t start writing about this with the expectation that others would find solace. I started writing because I wanted a way out of my pain. I wanted to discover a new way of responding to grief. I wanted to shed light on this giant that was attempting to take me down.
The giant of infertility will always be with me – never completely defeated. She can be held back though – she can be contained and her weapons can be disarmed. Other giants will come and go, but this one will last. I wonder if the next step with this giant is befriending her? Maybe someday, but not yet – I’m not ready for that. I think I’ve stopped fighting; the battle is probably over. But I’m still in my corner and she is in hers.
I suspect that when our friendship begins, the time for me to share this story more widely will begin as well. To shed an even bigger light on the giant of infertility and on the path we’ve chosen. Surely we aren’t the only ones. And, someday when a couple faces this same giant, I want to offer them a gift, a story of another couple who faced the giant too and lived to tell the tale. Not just lived, but thrived with a beautiful story of hope for others. However, that tale still needs time to develop. Until then, my giant and I will work toward something new and unexpected.