Don’t you dare try to tell me how to feel! (pt. 3)

Explaining that you are experiencing grief over something that you’ve never had is a hard thing for many to understand. However, this is my reality, and it’s one that becomes more intense as the years pass by. I never expected that this would be my experience. Nevertheless, these are the cards that life has dealt to me, and I’m doing my best to work through the heartache and pain that has resulted.

I must have been in my early twenties when the dreams started. At first, they would come often (they still come, but not as often as they used to). The dreams always took me to a playground, where I would run after, and play with a little boy. Although the dreams were many, it was always the same little boy that I’d see in my dreams. He must have been around three years old. He was a good looking little kid with a great smile and spirited personality. I clearly remember hearing him squeal with delight as I pushed him on the swing, and took him down the slide. Sometimes he’d run straight towards me, with his arms stretched wide, wanting me to pick him up and hold him. I remember the overwhelming sense of love in that moment. The love that I had for that child was one of the most beautiful things that I had ever felt. In return, I felt an overwhelming sense of love and trust radiating from him. Although my dreams never revealed the little boy’s name, there was one thing I knew beyond a shadow of doubt. The little boy, that I always saw in my dreams, was my son.

It may sound like an odd goal to have, but one of the things that I always wanted to be was a father. I wanted to have a child to call my own. I wanted my mother to have a grandson that would bring her just as much joy as, I knew, she would bring to him. In my mind, I pictured us sitting together as a family, eating empanadas, putting together puzzles, and singing hymns (3 of my mom’s favorite things to do). I wanted my brother to have a little rug-rat that would call him uncle. I wanted his children to have a cousin that they could play with. However, it never happened.

When I was twenty-five I fell in love with the woman who is now my wife. As our relationship deepened, and we began to speak about marriage, it was natural that the subject of children came up. She had three children from a previous marriage, two in their teens and one who had just started kindergarten. After the birth of her youngest, she had elected to have a tubal ligation. Knowing this, we talked about the possibility of adoption. At the time I had been a foster-parent for four years, so I felt that it would be a natural and easy transition to experience fatherhood and expand our family. However, as we started our marriage, we began to entertain the possibility of reversing the tubal ligation. Neither of us had a strong source of income, so we began to save. Four years later we finally had enough money to have the procedure done. Unfortunately, a poor decision, made by my wife’s oldest child, almost ended her life, and left her in a coma for three months. Although she survived, the road to a recovery was a long one. Needless to say, this situation drained our savings and my wife and I were back at square one.

A few years later, and once my step-daughter had recovered, we began to explore the opportunity to have a child again. Our visit to the fertility doctor let us know that, due to our advanced age, our best option was invitro-fertilization. The problem was the cost. However, I had been holding on to land that I had inherited from my father. My desire to have my own child led me to literally “sell the family farm” in attempt to have my own child. However, our attempt was not successful. Over $30,000 later, I sat there sobbing with the realization that this wasn’t going to happen for us.

I wish that I could say that I handled everything in a noble manner. Instead, I repressed my feelings and sunk into personal darkness. I thought that it would be best if ignored the devastation. Instead of addressing my pain, I spent the next few years digging myself into a hole that would take me falling flat on my face to get out of. Instead seeking help, I exerted energy on trying to fix people who themselves were broken. I lost a lot of valuable time and energy because I was unwilling to acknowledge the crater that had been created by the dream that was ripped out of my heart.

It took me about five years to face the fact that I may never have my own child. It is something that I’m still working through. However, I’m willing to acknowledge it now. Acknowledging it doesn’t mean that I’ve got everything together. Instead, it means, that I’m no longer repressing my feelings and I’m choosing to share them with others.

Here’s some life lessons that I’ve learned from this experience

Sometimes our prayers go unanswered.

This is a hard pill to swallow. I can’t tell you how many times I prayed to God to give me a child. Yet, He chose to not grant my request. Because of this, it would be easy for me to curse God and go my own way. However, I remember that the scriptures tell me that God is sovereign. He is all knowing, all-powerful, He is love, and He is everywhere. Somehow, I’ve mustered up the strength to trust Him in this situation. I don’t understand his reasoning. However, I do know that if He knows all, understands all, and if He is love…. in the grand spectrum of life there is a reason why this request wasn’t granted, and God’s choice to deny my request was actually an act of love in itself. It’s not something that I fully understand yet, but I believe that he can be trusted, because He cannot operate out of the context of who He is (God is Love). Now, when I’m feeling down, I try to remind myself of the words that the Apostle Paul said when his prayer for healing wasn’t answered, “His grace is sufficient.”

We have every right to grieve.

Most people don’t know how to grieve. In many situations they repress their feelings until they explode (usually at someone else’s expense). At other times, people don’t know how to handle the grief of others so they try to find a way to silence them. Sometimes people taken on the responsibility to try and fix your grief for you. While this is noble, it makes things very awkward when that person realizes that they are powerless to do so. Other people try to silence your grief with impractical advice. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people tell me, “At least you got to raise your wife’s youngest daughter.” (insert the feeling of cold water being unexpectedly splashed on my face right here)….. I absolutely love my little girl and I’m glad that I was privileged with the honor of raising her and providing for her. However, I do not view her as a consolation prize. She’s not a stand in. Raising her in no shape or form minimizes my desire to have a child to call my own.

There is life beyond grief.

I always admire people who do not let extreme circumstances of life define them. I’ve seen people emerge out of an unhealthy relationship, sickness, or crisis stronger, wiser, and ready to conquer the world. This is the way that I want to live my life. So here it goes….. I may wake up, some days, with a hole in my heart, but I acknowledge that there is a beautiful life out there waiting to be lived….. and with God’s help, I want to live it well.

Unapologetically yours,

John Eli Garay

John Eli is a transformational life coach who has spent over 15 years mentoring individuals in life skills, career transitions, and through organizational change. His resume includes pastoral care, behavioral health, and higher-education advising. From an early age, John recognized that God created him to bring hope, healing and encouragement to others. He is currently walking out his purpose by helping others confront, and work through, any negative self-talk that keeps them from living life to the fullest. His ministry includes blogging, speaking, and personal development coaching. He currently lives in Chandler, Arizona with his wife, mini-schnauzer and an antique piano whom he calls, “Betty.”

To schedule a coaching session with John Eli click here.

Published by John Eli

I am a self-awareness coach (coach for humans), life strategist, blogger and speaker. I’ve spent over 21 years mentoring individuals in life skills, career transitions, relationships, and life recovery. My resume includes pastoral care, behavioral health, and higher education. From an early age, I realized that God created me to bring hope, healing and encouragement to others. I am currently living out my purpose by creating a space where people can rediscover and become all that they were created to be. I currently live in the beautiful state of Arizona with my wife, two dogs, and an antique piano whom I call, “Betty.”

23 thoughts on “Don’t you dare try to tell me how to feel! (pt. 3)

  1. Amen!! I experience somewhat of the same thing. No two stories are the same but there are many similarities. Being a mom is all that I’ve ever wanted now I’m approaching 40 in a couple years on top of that I’m single. So I have to accept the fact that it may not be in God’s plan for my life! Those around me don’t understand my pain and even though they never tell me to get over it their actions speak it. A lot of times those around us think if we don’t have it or never had it then it shouldn’t affect us. A couple years ago I worked with children with physical disabilities. There were two boys in particular one had cerebral palsy and could never walk. The other had muscular dystrophy and who could walk but lost the ability due to the deterioration of his muscles. I remember a staff member telling the one who could never walk to get over it he has no idea what it’s like for the one who could. I was angry and sad. Truth is both experienced pain,but because one lived his whole life in a set condition. His struggle was minimized. We need to stop minimizing someone else struggle simply because we don’t understand it. God’s blessings!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Wow bro. What strength it took to share that!! And what faith you exhibit in your trusting of God’s sovereign will for your life.

    Thank for openly sharing from the true depths of your heart. God bless you John

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What comforts me the most about that verse is that it goes on to say God is made strong in our weakness. It is not by accident we are flawed. It is by design. I’m so sorry for the journey you and your wife have gone through. Sometimes the most painful dreams are the ones where we have lost hope. It’s hard to trust that God is good even when we don’t understand or get what he had hoped for in life. But what he has for us is always better or greater than we could dream.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Thank you Brother for sharing your journey (along with your families). Your raw openness is both refreshing yet convicting to be just as open with God, self and others. Your words are written from deep within and wisdom abounds. Keep walking with the Lord. May the Lord continue to use you as His mouthpiece as you openly share your God-journey with others. He has a plan. Jeremiah 29:11-13

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I believe that one of the most challenging aspects of grief (which is a slow process that our Western culture prefers to rush through, sadly) is the not knowing or understanding why. Grief – which can include loss or dream that goes unfulfilled – is something that is not necessarily logical or linear, and each person’s experience is different. I’m sorry to hear of the insensitive remarks some said to you in the past – my view is that sometimes, when we’re not sure what to say to a person in pain, less is better.
    I commend your trust in the Lord and His plan – even in the midst of your sorrow. I will add you to my prayer list – hang in there! ✝️

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I can relate as I am approaching 40 and single no children…I am trying to let go as I am starting to accept the fact that its just not going to happen, I’ve tried going my own way and that just led to bad relationships and uneeded pain, my prayers for having a family to call my own are now in the wind, when others look at me at shock as why I’m not in that situation of being a wife and mother I dont know how to feel, so I just keep it on the downlow and figure God has me on this walk going solo litterly for a purpose.though I don’t understand knowing that this world is only a short amount of time in the scheme of things that is, I press forward waiting for the day with joy .( hope that doesn’t sound pessimistic lol)anyway enjoyed your story .blessings in Christ

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for stopping by. The act of trusting God, in spite of our dreams never actualizing, can be challenging. Yet, I am confident that His plan is perfect… and in our brokenness, peace will come, and He will be glorified. Blessings to you!


      1. Thank you for the encouragement. I was going to take down my comment, as I was afraid it just sounded like a woman complaining..but I agree with you, and I know I have to stop acting like I know everything that is going to come my way, I will continue in my faith as I truly do want Gods will, and if the rest is to occur I suppose it will be a pleasant surprise, and if not God. Is good.blessings to you and yours in Christ.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Please don’t ever be afraid to share your story. It is you. Your struggle is part of the testimony that God will use for His glory. Don’t ever hide it…..
        On another note… I apologize for my late response. I lag in responding sometimes due to working full-time and going to grad school full-time. Trusting that this struggle will someday be part of my testimony too. ha! ha! #thestruggleisreal Bendiciones!


      3. Amen..mine has been like a lifetime movie I do hope that..waiting for The words to expess it. Np in apologizing as I work full time and such and understand.yes the stuggle is real, right about that lol..God bless you brother, as your writings on here as well as others are helping the body of Christ learn and cope with serious issues of the heart.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Dude, I felt like I was reading my own life stories and emotions. Wow can I ever relate!
    This is great sharing, true transparency, and true spiritual maturity. Yes, “His grace is sufficient.” and yet he never forgets out prayers either, in this world, or the next, all our hearts desires are fulfilled in Christ.
    One other thought is, yes we don’t want extreme circumstances to define us in negative ways, but they are what molds us in spiritual formation. Suffering, is the privilege that makes us more like Christ and a brighter light to others in need. Here is a sermon I did on that idea that may be a blessing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for checking it out… This post cost me many tears. I’m learning to trust in God more and more each day. It’s not always easy.
      Also, thanks for sharing this sermon with me. I’ll be checking it out today. I usually listen to a sermon while working. Blessings bro.


    2. Hey Vinnie. Been super busy with a second job that I picked up so I haven’t had a chance to tell you that I really enjoyed your sermon. It actually affirmed some of the things that God has been showing me. Thanks for sharing it with me. 🙌🔥


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