How Can You Choose?

“Infertility shows you the limits of your faith in a way that is inescapable. You discover that letting go completely feels impossible because you don’t trust God—not enough to give Him control. At the same time, infertility reveals the limits of your own power. You can’t force the outcome you want on your timetable, no matter how much you spend or how hard you try.”

Does anything about that description sound familiar?  Do you recognize yourself and your situation in it? Wanting to force a heartbeat into the womb, but unable to… wanting to trust God and let go, but unwilling to… struggling mightily to find some way forward?

Does reading that passage and thinking about these questions make you feel anxious?  Paralyzed?  Unsure how to proceed?  If so, don’t worry.  You’re in good company.

I frequently receive emails from people who’ve started reading Pregnant with Hope and been floored by the accuracy of the description of this point in the journey.  It’s the fork in the road that leaves every infertile couple facing two (seemingly) impossible choices:  1) maintain control while hoping for the best but bracing for the worst, or 2) relinquish control to God with no guarantee of success.

How can you choose?

One option is step outside your experience and talk with someone who’s made the journey.  Find out what choice they made.  Then ask:  How did it impact your stress level?  Your relationship?  Your journey’s outcome?  What did you learn that you could share with me?  Specifically, what about your story might predict the trajectory of mine?

It can be hard to find people who’ll discuss their experience candidly.  There are plenty of strangers willing to chat anonymously on the internet, but wouldn’t you rather hear from people who’ll use their real names and tell you their whole story?  Because the context of a decision matters.  And so does assessing whether people who share their stories are like you — in terms of background, education, values, income, faith life… whatever matters to you.  Hearing about the tradeoffs they made and how they felt afterwards helps, too.

Wouldn’t you want to know all that?

Ten couples agreed to do that as part of Pregnant with Hope.  Each of them told their entire infertility story – from initial worry to discouraging diagnosis, from multiple treatments and failed attempts to heartache and despair… and finally, to joy.  You can learn a lot by hearing their stories in their own words.  I urge you to read them, if you haven’t already.

Here’s what all ten couples – and many whom I’ve interviewed since – consistently say:

1)      Make the right choice and you can increase your peace, decrease your stress, and set off on the path toward parenthood and a deeper, richer spiritual life.  That’s what God wants for you, and for the child He intends to entrust to you.

2)      Make the wrong choice and the pressure on you and your relationship will continue to mount.  The stress of seeing people around you succeed where you continue to fail will become an unbearable reminder that you are not in control — which can lead to mounting anger, deepening depression, or both.

3)      At some point, you’ll have to make a choice  — otherwise, you will risk forfeiting not only your dream of a family, but the health of your relationship with your partner and the quality of your faith life.

So, here’s what I recommend:  Let go.  Give up.  Surrender.  Why offer such hopeless-sounding advice?  Because it’s actually the path to joy.  And to peace.

By acknowledging our own limitations, we admit what’s already obvious:  we can’t control what’s happening.  We don’t have the power to make anything we’re trying succeed – whether it’s an embryo implanting, or a birth mother choosing our portfolio.  We want to script it because we believe we know what’s best.  We want to manage it because we’re sure we’ll get it right.

But, we don’t always know what’s best.  And we might not get it right.  We might be able to force what looks like success, but there are plenty of examples of “success” like that backfiring.  If we want nothing less than the best possible outcome, we have to give it to the only One with the desire and the power to make that happen.

Are you ready to let go and give God control?

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