All of us are on a journey of some kind.
When we were children, our journey was school. Then we grew up and our journeys became college or careers.
After college, things got a little more complicated. The journey became marriage or children. Maybe some of us took a journey through a crisis, a sickness, or some other unplanned detour.
All of us are on a journey of some kind. Some journeys are the kind you plan, and others just happen whether we are prepared or not. Cheri and I took a five year journey to have our little boy.
As a teacher, I can tell you how silly students sound when they complain about how hard school is. Kindergarteners do it. High schoolers do it. There is nothing in a day of kindergarten that appears difficult to me anymore. And when a high school complains about how hard things are, or how tired he is or how he has too much to do, I think that’s how high school is supposed to be! That is the journey through school.
As for those more grown-up journeys, the journeys with children, the journeys with infertility, the journeys with all the other little things that life throws at us, what I am starting to find, and I suspect is true of much of life, is that journeys are hard. Journeys are hard and they make you argue with your spouse or they take your spouse away from you. Journeys make you say “why me” and can throw you into despair.
But journeys also seem to have some sweetness to them, for people who are willing to find it. There are plenty of people people who seem to be utterly broken by infertility. They despaired of life and cried, “why us?” And then there are the couples who watch as their marriage actually grows under the stress and the heartache. The pain provides a kind of fertilizer for their relationship.
I have become convinced that we are all on some kind of journey. All journeys have something to give us, some sweetness to enrich us. But there is one guaranteed way to miss it:
Having a martyr complex.
People who travel humbly, knowing that life has always entailed difficult journeys will find the sweetness, despite the heartache. People with martyr complexes will not. Martyrs will live in the difficulty, will sit in the dust and wonder why they are on this journey, wonder why they are being singled out of seven billion people to have this problem (even while there are real, actual martyrs in the world.)
The fact is, we are all on a journey. And journeys are hard. They take something from us.
But we have a choice.
We can be martyrs.
Or we can be journeymen.