May 5, 2009

The Pain of a Rose

2009 1513 page31 capHE DAY DAWNED AS ANY OTHER SPRING MORNING—BIRDS CHIRPING outside the window, a warm breeze lifting the curtains, the sky a rosy glow as night gave way to the glories of a new day. A perfect day. The Sabbath.
My husband, Greg, and I had started eating breakfast when it hit me—it was the day before Mother’s Day, the day they honored mothers at church. I took a deep breath, and Greg looked at me quizzically across the table.
“What’s wrong, Sweetie?” he asked gently. “Is it because today the Mother’s Day program is being held at church?”
I nodded, not sure how to express my feelings. But he already knew how I felt. We’d been traveling this road for several years—our dream of a baby to hold and love, a son or a daughter to treasure and teach. We’d faced Mother’s Days before, always with the hope that maybe this time next year . . . But this time was different.
2009 1513 page31The morning passed, and all too soon I was sitting at the piano while several women stood at the podium holding beautiful long-stemmed roses. They called out the mothers in the congregation. The oldest? The youngest? The one with the most children?
I shut my eyes and tried not to listen, only to have the words of the doctor replay in my mind like a broken record. We’d found out only two months before. Two months since the last of several doctor visits had dashed our hopes and dreams. Two months since those words infertile, and rare, and the most confusing ones: We just don’t know why.
The voice from the woman at the podium broke into my thoughts. “And now, we’d like all our mothers to stand,” she said.
I began to play as children from all over the church came to the front to pick up a rose. My mind wandered. Unless You work a miracle, God, I will never be a mother, I prayed. I’ll never have the joy of having a child, of raising one for You.
Tears welled up in my eyes, and I struggled to keep them in check. Looking out over the congregation I caught Greg’s eyes. Pain was etched in his face, too. Losing the battle with my emotions, tears spilled over and ran down my face. I shook my hair over my face so nobody would notice, as my hands obediently traveled over the keys. Oh, Father, why does it hurt so much?
Suddenly, I saw a pink rose being placed on the piano and heard a soft voice saying, “My mom wanted to give you this.”
How like my friend, I thought. She wanted me to know that she cared for me on this day, of all days. She’d sent her daughter to give me the rose. Instantly, I felt God speak to me—not an audible voice, but a whisper in my mind, a soft caress. “Jill, I may not have given you a child, but I’ve given you a wonderful friend. I love you, and I want to give you only the best gifts.”
I knew what those gifts were: a godly, caring husband; friends and family; a God whose faithfulness and presence sustain me; the gift of a friend who followed the prompting of His Spirit and reached out to show me Jesus’ love through that rose.
Do Greg and I have children yet? No. Do we ever ask why? Sometimes. But we’re learning to rest contentedly in His arms, believing He knows the very best path for us to travel. We know that someday all the thorns and thistles will be forever plucked off, and we’ll be left with the scent of the rose. Someday at last the pain of a rose will give way to the untold glories of eternity. 
*This article was first printed in the April 2009 issue of 3ABN World, which has generously allowed it to be reprinted.
Jill Morikone is a music teacher, a church pianist, and a host on the 3ABN Today cooking segments.