There’s a persistent ache, but sometimes I can ignore it. I can turn up the volume of what’s around me and drown it out for a bit. I play hostess and invite the noise to come in: come fill up my heart, come fill up this empty nursery, come fill up this planner. I’ve got two kids, and they are experts at noise, so my days are full of it, and it works. The noise narcotizes the ache, making it manageable, day by noisy day.
In my former life as a teacher, I used to make my students write about this experiment in which plants were placed in identical environments except for varying music. The plant in beautiful classical music grew exponentially, and the plant in rock music died quickly. It’s proof that it’s possible to kill with noise. In retrospect, it was probably a pretty boring assignment, but I still think I’ve carried its premise in my heart, hoping noise is always that deadly.
But it is not, I am learning. The ache does not die in the noise, but rather it grows as the noisy days string together. One after the other, after the other, until it’s been a year and a half that we’ve been in this adoption process. Not as long as others, but long enough to make our knees start to buckle under the weight of wait. Now the tears come quickly because having ache as your constant companion is exhausting, no matter how you’ve tried to drown it out. And I’m learning that even though I’ve tried to keep things loud, there’s a piercing silence I cannot conquer—all the days with no phone call—and it sharpens the ache ever so slightly with each passing day.
I laid my hands on all the hand-me-downs in the nursery, remembering when I first washed them, longing to meet my babies. I am here again, but there is not a growing belly to mark the time, and it seems to stretch endlessly before me. Where are you, my love?
The noise has been lessening, against my will. God has been making me slow down, making me take my hands off the volume knob. The noise lessens each night when my children remember to pray for “baby.” The noise lessons each time someone tells me they’re praying for us, and I know they mean it. I am losing track of how many times this has happened lately, almost as if God is plotting against my noise. It’s hard to cover your ears when someone stops to pray, and even harder when everyone you meet stops to pray.
I have befriended noise because I’m afraid to listen to this ache. I’m afraid it’ll make me slip into doubt and despair like an old sleeping bag, the one I burrowed into every night years ago when we were struggling with infertility, one of my most painful seasons. I am afraid I will be faithless again. I am afraid that once again, I’ll let ache’s soundwaves crash so loudly in my ears that I can’t hear anything else.
Peter looked at the waves, traded faith for fear, and started to sink, but Jesus stuck His hand right out in kind rescue. “Why did you doubt?” He said. The silence brings with it a thought: maybe Jesus will stick His hand out for me, too?
Where are you, my love? I don’t want to wait any longer to meet you, but I will. I want you to have a woman of faith for a mother, and maybe God will make me more like that right here. I will wait, even if I have to wait in the silence. I will be brave and sit with the ache, even as it threatens to shackle my faith. Dear Jesus, stick your hand out for me when I sink.