I arrived at the restaurant first and sat down at a table that gave me a view of the door, hoping I would recognize him when he walked in. It was our first date—a blind one. We had seen photos of each other and emailed back and forth, but this was the first time I would see him in the flesh. My nerves were frayed.
When he walked in, I stood up, suddenly realizing that I hadn’t planned how I would greet him. Without much thought, I opened my arms wide as I stepped towards him. I imagine I looked confident in my decision to hug this near stranger, but internally I was collapsing. What if he’s not a hugger? Is this too much for a first meeting? What if I trip and fall head-first into him? It was a risky and vulnerable way to kick off our first encounter.
Now, he is my husband, so I guess the awkward and uncertain hug wasn’t a deal breaker.
He and I were 30 years old when we met. Before that first date, I remember telling friends that I was fine not yet being married—I just wanted to know (with certainty!) that marriage was in my future. I figured that I’d be able to enjoy the journey much more if I were guaranteed my path was headed in the direction of my desire. Wouldn’t that be nice?
Eventually, my husband and I did find (and hug) each other—and, wouldn’t you know, he was absolutely worth the wait. Now, as we approach our second wedding anniversary, I find myself wishing for more guarantees so that I can let go of my what ifs and enjoy life’s ride, free of mystery.
My husband and I are trying to get pregnant and, so far, have been unsuccessful. I know, because I have “failed” many pregnancy tests. The dark blue NEGATIVE sign looks so hostile. Can’t we have a friendlier way of telling women who want a baby that their body is without child? The negative symbol is not the most delicate way to break the news.
Despite the small fortune spent on pregnancy tests, I know we’re not quite in the thick of infertility. We haven’t been trying long enough for either of us, or any doctor, to come to that conclusion. But it’s the fear that we’re headed towards infertility that makes me yearn for a written report detailing what our future holds. Surely it’s safe to assume that I can joyfully embrace my current season of life more freely once I know what the next season will bring.
The thing about faith is that it cannot carry me if I do not open myself up to receive it. After all, it is faith that I am longing for: The confidence in what I hope for and the assurance of what I cannot see (Hebrews 11:1). What I need is a tighter embrace with faith; where that begins is with an open heart, willing to welcome the presence of uncertainty.
The decision to open my arms to my now-husband on our first date came before the decision to wrap my arms around him. Before I grab a hold of faith, I have to allow it to come near. I often think only about the embrace, but the moments before are crucial—when we’re bold and vulnerable, walking towards a desire with our arms wide open.
The initial opening of our arms towards our desire is big and brave, and it should not be discounted. I deeply desire a tight hug with faith that will allow me to enjoy my todays knowing that God is with me in my tomorrows, even if a baby is not. I think that—the honest admission of my desires and need for faith—is the vital step before the embrace. It is, so to speak, the opening of my arms.
Mystery is a part of the ride because we’re meant to make this journey with a firm grip on faith. When I refuse to open myself up to the confidence in what I hope for and assurance of what I cannot see, I’m letting the fear that comes with uncertainty be louder than the peace that comes with faith. Regardless of whether or not my husband and I ever embrace our own biological child, I so deeply want my arms to first be filled with faith. May it be so.