“I hope someday,” our parents told us, “that you have children just like you!” This mild form of parental revenge gave them a small measure of satisfaction in their frustration at our behavior. Someday, justice would be done. Had we thought about it, we might have agreed: “I hope that my children will be like me.” Perhaps we would have added, “Except with more opportunities than I was given.” Certainly, we assumed that we would have children.
However, life for some doesn’t turn out that way, and yet within nearly all of us is the desire to leave part of ourselves behind. We desire a somebody like us, only better, to see a future that we will not. This desire to nurture and teach a child by birth or adoption is a God-given instinct. Fulfilling instincts is a basic human need that, when denied, causes emotional turmoil.
Many heartwarming stories share about difficult situations that worked out miraculously or through a person’s iron-willed determination. The stories are useful in that they inspire hope. But sometimes life just doesn’t work out that way. What do we do in a situation that seems unfair? How to with a difficulty that is unfixable?
Our Life-skills book More Than Ordinary Challenge uses our situation of childlessness as one example. However, many other challenges can have the same emotional effect. Consider someone who longs for a loving spouse but doesn’t have one. Or someone who has lost a spouse by death or divorce. What about parents with a prodigal child who, despite receiving an ocean of love, discipline, and prayers, insists on making ruinous choices? Perhaps others struggle with a disability or illness that limits their dreams. Maybe parents have lost a child in a tragic accident. Some have been left alone through circumstances beyond their control. All these examples are unexpected and unwelcome life challenges.