Well-Timed Kindness

Shortly after my first pregnancy ended with a twin miscarriage, I went to Macy’s to return the maternity clothes I’d chosen just a week before.   There was a long line.  A huge sale was underway.  I was still exhausted – physically and emotionally – by all I’d just gone through.  But somehow, I felt I had to do this to reach closure.  The saleswoman called, “Next in line.”

I dropped a heap of clothes on the counter and said, “I need to return these.”

“All of them?” she asked, incredulous.

“Yes,” I answered sadly.

Clearly frustrated, she looked at the receipt.  “You just bought these!  Why are you bringing them all back?”

I couldn’t speak.  Everyone in line looked at me with the same impatient question written on every face.  Why?!  Who returns so much on such a busy shopping day?  Painfully self-conscious, I suddenly felt as if I couldn’t breathe.  I tried to answer, but the words wouldn’t come – and instead, I felt myself start to cry.  I leaned on the counter, trying not to fall to the floor.  The trickle of tears became sobs.

Then I felt a hand on my shoulder.  A woman had stepped out of line.  “Are you okay?” she asked.  I looked in her eyes and wailed, “I just miscarried twins.  I don’t need these any more.”  Her eyes flooded with compassion.  She put an arm around me and held me tightly while I cried.  The saleslady got busy.  The other customers looked away.  As I began to pull myself together, my savior stood with me, determined to see me through a horrible moment.

When you’re struggling through something as stressful and emotionally exhausting as infertility, another person’s thoughtfulness can make a huge difference.  The tiniest gesture of support or kindness can dramatically alter your experience of a moment.  I expect the woman who reached out to me that day forgot about it soon afterward.  But not me.  I still remember every second of that encounter – both the agony, and the gratitude.

It is easy to focus on how thoughtless the people around us can be in the midst of an infertility journey.  Their offhanded questions (“Isn’t it about time you two started a family?”) and callous remarks (“You two are almost too old for kids — you better get busy!”) can wound us deeply.  Meanwhile, they are blissfully ignorant of the emotional trainwrecks they leave in their wake.

It’s not as instinctive for us to focus on the split seconds of kindness that offer encouragement along the journey:  a word of hope from the nurse who calls with results, a half-smile from the woman across the waiting room, a hug from a friend who knows the two week wait is the hardest.  These tiny gifts appear without fanfare.  Absorbed in our own drama and heartache, we can easily miss them.  But if we want to remain hope-full, we must not.

These gifts come from the heart of the One who loves us, who knows our hearts are breaking, and who longs to remind us:

“I have a plan to prosper you and not to harm you.  To give you hope and a future.”

These encouragements are tiny care packages sent to remind us that we are not forgotten, our suffering is not invisible, and good news is coming.

Do you need someone or something to lift your spirits?  To see you through a dark moment?  To help heal a deep wound caused by a thoughtless remark?   Ask God to send you a care package this week — a sign of His love and compassionate presence.  You’ll be amazed at the creative ways He finds to remind you, “I love you and I am with you always.”

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For more inspiration, resources & cause for hope, click this link.

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Filed under Bystanders, Loss

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