Tag Archives: depression

So That We Can Comfort….

I was taking a walk with a new friend recently when I mentioned that I write a blog for people struggling with infertlity. It’s hard to explain to my peers why I still write it — our own journey ended long ago, I no longer lead the Bible study, I’m not trying to sell books or raise my profile… and I’m getting white hair, for goodness sake!

I just feel called.

Periodically, I wonder, “Is it time to stop writing?” I’d been praying about that for a while and seeking a clear answer. I’d had several unexpected, unprompted and very encouraging affirmations, but honestly, I still wrestled with this question: “Does someone who’s this far removed from that particular journey need to keep writing?”

Then, I got this email:

Hi Susan,

I just ran across your blog today and I am so happy I did. I almost cried because I have been searching for months for something to help bring me back up. A lot of other bloggers have stopped writing as their lives get hectic once they have children. It’s just so heart-warming for me to scroll down to the bottom of the last post and see the time stamp be within this month and this year. I don’t know why I find it so comforting, but I do. I’m purchasing your book and diving into your blog. I’m so happy and so encouraged now.

Katie

I couldn’t ask for a clearer answer. Not only do I need to keep writing, but there’s the answer to “why?” Scripture puts it this way:

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,  who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” [2 Corinthians 1:3-4]

Reading blog posts about other infertile couple’s fears and failures won’t reduce Katie’s worry. Just like comparing notes in the doctor’s waiting room won’t reduce her stress. Yes, “misery loves company,” but her spirit is not encouraged by reading or hearing about other people’s suffering. The details of their grief don’t inspire hope

Only those of us who have made the journey and experienced the incredible faithfulness and goodness of God can attest to it in ways that will resonate in the midst of Katie’s circumstances. We can comfort her with the same truth that comforted us. We can share our stories and bear witness. We can point out the path of peace, having taken it ourselves.

Katie’s right. Too often, infertile couples become new parents so busy with their long-awaited joy that they don’t think to offer a helping hand to those still making the journey. No judgment; it’s understandable, but it’s bittersweet for people like Katie who are still struggling and left wondering, “Why them, but not me?”

I’m honored to have been given the privilege of walking alongside Katie — and each of you as you encounter the living God in the midst of your infertility journey.

“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.” [Ephesians 3:16]

May His truth speak through me and resonate in your spirit, and may peace — however fleeting — be compelling evidence of His presence.

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Need more cause for hope? Visit PregnantWithHope.info

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Filed under Peace, Speaking Up

“He Lifted Me….”

Several years ago, when I was leading a group of infertile couples through the Pregnant With Hope bible study, a minister’s wife shared her story. She and her husband had tried to conceive for years, but she’d never been able to carry a baby to term. Meanwhile, her husband was climbing into the pulpit every Sunday morning to preach the goodness of God. It felt like living a lie, and it became an impossibly difficult situation.

As a dark cloud of despair and resentment began to settle on both of them, he took a leave of absence from the church, and they sought comfort away from their inquisitive congregation.

Like all of us who have struggled with infertility, they wrestled with self-pity. It is, as Jesus Calling affirms:

“…a slimy, bottomless pit. Once you fall in, you tend to go deeper and deeper into the mire. As you slide down those slippery walls, you are well on your way to depression, and the darkness is profound.”

When they arrived at our group’s first meeting, they were hoping for little more than commiserating community. But over the course of ten weeks, they opened their minds and hearts to the messages of the lessons. They came to see that they had fallen into a “pit” of self-pity by ceasing to trust a God who wasn’t responding on their timetable, who didn’t seem to share their vision, and who failed to explain His reasoning — in other words, a God they could not control.

They came to a fork in the spiritual road: They could choose to trust God’s plan rather than their own, or they could reject Him and continue to struggle on without Him.

Jesus Calling says:

“Your only hope is to look up and see the Light of My presence shining down on you. Though the Light looks dim from your perspective deep in the pit, those rays of hope can reach you at any depth. While you focus on Me in trust, you rise ever so slowly out of the abyss of despair. Finally, you can reach up and grasp My hand. I will pull you out into the Light again.”

They came to the realization that God was their only hope. With or without children, He was the source of every good thing in their lives. They would trust Him, even if they did not understand why He would not enable them to conceive.

They surprised themselves by deciding to try adoption. The bible study had led them to the realization that God creates families in many ways, and they saw their decision as an exercise in obedience. Despite being told that they were unlikely to match — “Birth mothers may be put off by the fact that you’re in ministry, and they may not like that you’re older than most new parents” — they believed they were honoring God with this unexpected leap of faith.

A few weeks after submitting their profile, they got a phone call. Would they consider adopting newborn twins?

I still get chills when I tell this story because — as she told me when she called with the news — “no one but God knew we’d always been praying for twins.”

“He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.”  – Psalm 40:2-3

He lifted….

They trusted, and He lifted.

They stopped resenting and started releasing. They let go and let God. And He did what He’d always planned to do. He blessed them — in His way, on His timetable, according to His plan.

Are you tired of trying to force God’s hand? Of begging and pleading for your dream to come true? Before you slide any further down into the pit of self-pity, lift your eyes up off your circumstances and focus on the only One with the power to change your story.

“The Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in His unfailing love.”  – Psalm 147:11

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Want to hear more stories of couples whose despair turned to hope? Read Pregnant With Hope: Good News for Infertile Couples and visit PregnantWithHope.info

 

 

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Are You at Rock Bottom?

My friend emailed me yesterday saying he is shocked by how abandoned he feels as he makes his way through infertility (and a host of other challenges).

He and his wife are struggling through a time that seems so dark and lonely, it is hard for them to remember what joy feels like.  Or rest.  Or peace.  Or comfort.  They are trying to keep their heads above water while drowning in despair.  For him, coping has become a battle between sarcasm and detachment.  For her, it is body surfing a tidal wave of grief.

He left me a voicemail later in the day saying he’s tired of being told to trust God.  The implication was, he no longer does.

What can I offer couples whose infertility – especially when compounded by other hardships – makes them feel helpless and hopeless?  What can I say to someone who is tired of hearing that God cares?

Nothing.

When someone hits the wall like this and falls in a heap on the ground, it’s not time to talk.  It’s time to listen.  It’s time to sit quietly, patiently, compassionately — and offer comfort simply by acknowledging their suffering and choosing to remain with them in it.

It is a very hard place to be:  feeling angry at God and invisible to Him.  Massively resentful and utterly ignored.  A psychological death spiral can begin when these feelings become confused with the Truth.

Despite how it feels, the truth is God has not turned His back on my friends’ struggles or hardened His heart to their pleas.  In fact, as a loving Father, it breaks His heart to watch them suffer.  But, He knows what they don’t see and can’t imagine:  this is for a purpose, and it shall pass.  The journey isn’t over and this is not the end of their story.

Despite what they feel, He will not give them more burden than they can bear.  He’s promised.  And He’s also promised, “I will never leave you or forsake you.”  His character will not let Him be other than who He is: a covenant-maker and a promise-keeper.

So, no matter how dark, how lonely, how angry, how bitter, how devastated, or how hopeless they feel, He has promised He will never leave them.  They can reject Him, but He will not abandon them.  No matter what they say in frustration, or what they do in despair, He promises, “I am with you always.”

My own journey is testimony to His faithfulness — as are the journeys of so many couples I’ve taught, met with, comforted and encouraged.  We are all witnesses to the truth that God is faithful, and He is with them.  One day, they will be witnesses, too.

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For more inspiration, resources and cause for hope, click this link

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A Pre-Mother’s Day Pep Talk

Have you ever had a day that’s so bad you want to spread some misery around?

Not long ago, I had a horrible stomach bug.  I struggled with raging fevers that left me alternately freezing and melting.  The trashcans were overflowing with Kleenex, and I couldn’t even muster the energy to empty them.  What a perfect time to write a Misery Loves Company post… just in time for Mother’s Day!

Don’t worry.

I didn’t.

But it was tempting.

Lots of internet writers seem to think spreading misery is a great idea.  A quick online search found loads of despair waiting to be shared on blogs and in tweets posted in the last 24 hours.  There’s something about Mother’s Day approaching that tips infertile women over emotionally, making a difficult struggle suddenly feel impossibly unmanageable.  And sharing some misery with the world is so cathartic:  Come bond with me!  We’ll be miserable together!

It’s a trap.  Don’t fall in.

The temptation to wallow in self-pity is a powerful one.  We tell ourselves it doesn’t hurt anyone – and believe it can actually help.  But really, it doesn’t.

Dwelling on despair makes hope feel much further away than it actually is.  It makes God’s purposefulness seem veiled and impenetrable.  It gives us an ever-expanding laundry list of reasons to grieve, resent, and give up.  None of which makes this journey any easier.

“Our lives are the expression of the thoughts that lie behind them, and of the thoughts that inspire them.”  – Marjorie Jackson

Especially now, as Mother’s Day approaches, it matters what you feed your mind and spirit.  A steady diet of hopeless messages may seem to satisfy your hunger, but it will actually starve you of the strength you need for the journey.

Unless you’ve chosen to give up on the dream of parenthood – deciding it’s too arduous a journey and no longer worth the effort – you need to FOCUS:

– On why you are doing this:  God planted a seed of hope in your heart.  And He did it for a reason.

– On why you have hope:  “All things work together for good for those who love God, and are called according to His purpose” {Romans 8:28].

– On where you find your strength:  “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” [Ephesians 4:13].

– On how you resist self-pity:  “The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure” [I Corinthians 10:13].

– On how your story will end:  “I (God) will pour out My spirit on your offspring, and My blessing on your descendants” [Isaiah 44:34].

God has given you the power to alter the course of your journey with your thoughts.  They will express themselves in the life that unfolds before you.  You are certainly justified in thinking thoughts of failure and defeat.  But, you are also justified in thinking thoughts of strength, sufficiency and victory.  Which will it be?

Use your power wisely.  And be thankful for this Mother’s Day gift.

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For inspiration, cause for hope, and useful resources, click this link.

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Infertility & Cause for Joy

Is it possible to experience true joy in the midst of an unsuccessful quest to conceive?  The visceral response is, “Of course not” – especially this time of year, when that instinctive answer is likely to be tinged with more than a little resentment or despair.

The world has taught us to associate this holiday season with family celebrations and wish fulfillment.  But what if we don’t feel like celebrating because our biggest wish is still unfulfilled?  What if our lives look nothing like what we’d pictured for ourselves — especially for this season?  Does it mean we’ve been chosen to suffer while others experience joy?

I don’t think so.

Then what does it mean to be infertile this season?  To have an unfulfilled longing for a child that God just seems to ignore?  That’s a great question, and it’s one that breaks the hearts of many infertile couples.

Here’s what I believe God wants us to understand about the answer….

We can see only what we want and don’t have when we put ourselves at the center of the story.  Why am I suffering when this should be a season of joy for me?  Why can’t I have the baby I want when I want it?  Why is God withholding the best gift I could imagine in what’s supposed to be a season of giving?

Consumed with thoughts of “I want!  I want!” we struggle to see any blessing, much less cause for joy, in this season.  But, if we put God at the center of the story, we can see this season very differently.

It can become a reminder that God has already given each of us the baby that was promised — baby Jesus.  He has already shown us that an “impossible “conception is possible by giving us proof of His ability to create life, despite the inability of science to explain how it happened — baby Jesus.  On top of all that, He has given a gift that is evidence of His great love for us, His deep desire to draw near to us, and His divine purpose:  to bless and save us.

Baby Jesus.

There’s our hope.  There’s our reason to believe that what we see and understand and feel able to explain is never the whole story.  There’s the proof that God never fails to fulfill His plan or accomplish His purpose in His perfect timing.

Why does that matter to couples struggling through the infertility journey?  We are seeing only a moment; God sees forever and always.

Too often, our focus is what’s just behind us and right in front of us.  If the past is full of failures and the future full of uncertainty, it is hard to feel confident – much less joyful, especially if our faith in God’s goodness is faltering.

This season gives us a very real reminder that God works in and through —  but also outside and beyond — our circumstances.  His perspective on our story is very different from our own.  It extends from the first promises made in scripture into a future we can only imagine, but which He can see clearly.

In the midst of this season, God is weaving our stories – and those of our children, and our children’s children, and their children —  into the one Great Story of love and salvation.

Is our longing for a baby lost in all that?  No.  Somehow, God knows every worry, every thought, every action… every detail of every aspect of our lives.  And in this moment – in the midst of this season – He has not lost sight of us.  He is actively working to bring about His perfect plan, and it will be cause for great joy.

This season, we can welcome Baby Jesus with the joy of anticipation.  He is the reminder that all things are possible, that God is full of extravagant grace, that He loves us deeply, and that He wants us to receive the gift of life.

May confident joy be your response — this season and always.

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Need more inspiration and cause for hope this holiday season?  Read Pregnant With Hope: Good News for Infertile Couples, and find additional resources at PregnantWithHope.com.

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Infertility, Meet Thanksgiving

My nasty cold has morphed into a wicked case of bronchitis.  My froggy voice is sooooo deep – except when I have no voice at all.  I’m alternately freezing and melting.  The trashcans are overflowing with Kleenex, and I don’t think I’ve got the energy to empty them.  What a perfect time to write a Misery Loves Company post… just in time for Thanksgiving!

Don’t worry.

I won’t.

But it’s tempting.

Lots of internet writers seem to think it’s a great idea.  A quick online search found loads of misery waiting to be shared on blogs and in tweets posted in the last 24 hours.  There’s something about the holidays approaching that tips people over emotionally, making difficult struggles suddenly feel impossibly unmanageable.  And sharing some misery with the world is so cathartic:  Come bond with me!  We’ll be miserable together!

It’s a trap.  Don’t fall in.

The temptation to wallow in self-pity is a powerful one for infertile couples.  We tell ourselves it doesn’t hurt anyone – and believe it can actually help.  But really, it doesn’t.

Dwelling on despair makes hope feel much further away than it actually is.  It makes God’s purposefulness seem veiled and impenetrable.  It gives us an ever-expanding laundry list of reasons to grieve, resent, and give up.  None of which makes this journey any easier.

“Our lives are the expression of the thoughts that lie behind them, and of the thoughts that inspire them.”  – Marjorie Jackson

Especially now, as the holiday season approaches, it matters what you “feed” your mind and spirit.  A steady diet of hopeless messages may seem to satisfy your hunger, but it will actually starve you of the strength you need for the journey.

Unless you’ve chosen to give up on the dream of parenthood – deciding it’s too arduous a journey and no longer worth the effort – you need to FOCUS:

On why you are doing this:  God planted a seed of hope in your heart.  And He did it for a reason.

On why you have hope:  “All things work together for good for those who love God, and are called according to His purpose” {Romans 8:28].

On where you find your strength:  “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” [Ephesians 4:13].

On how you resist self-pity:  “The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure” [I Corinthians 10:13].

On how your story will end:  “I (God) will pour out My spirit on your offspring, and My blessing on your descendants” [Isaiah 44:34].

God has given you the power to alter the course of your journey with your thoughts.  They will express themselves in the life that unfolds before you.  You are certainly justified in thinking thoughts of failure and defeat.  But, you are also justified in thinking thoughts of strength, sufficiency and victory.  Which will it be?

Use your power wisely.

And let’s be thankful for the gift.

=====================================================

For inspiration, cause for hope, and useful resources, click this link.

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Filed under Battles, Perspective

Hitting Rock Bottom

My friend emailed me yesterday saying he is shocked by how abandoned he feels as he makes his way through infertility (and a host of other challenges).

He and his wife are struggling through a time that seems so dark and lonely, it is hard for them to remember what joy feels like.  Or rest.  Or peace.  Or comfort.  They are trying to keep their heads above water while drowning in despair.  For him, coping has become a battle between sarcasm and detachment.  For her, it is body surfing a tidal wave of grief.

He left me a voicemail later in the day saying he’s tired of being told to trust God.  The implication was, he no longer does.

What can I offer couples whose infertility – especially when compounded by other hardships – makes them feel helpless and hopeless?  What can I say to someone who is tired of hearing that God cares?

Nothing.

When someone hits the wall like this and falls in a heap on the ground, it’s not time to talk.  It’s time to listen.  It’s time to sit quietly, patiently, compassionately — and offer comfort simply by acknowledging their suffering and choosing to remain with them in it.

It is a very hard place to be:  feeling angry at God and invisible to Him.  Massively resentful and utterly ignored.  A psychological death spiral can begin when these feelings become confused with the Truth.

Despite how it feels, the truth is God has not turned His back on my friends’ struggles or hardened His heart to their pleas.  In fact, as a loving Father, it breaks His heart to watch them suffer.  But, He knows what they don’t see and can’t imagine:  this is for a purpose, and it shall pass.  The journey isn’t over and this is not the end of their story.

Despite what they feel, He will not give them more burden than they can bear.  He’s promised.  And He’s also promised, “I will never leave you or forsake you.”  His character will not let Him be other than who He is: a covenant-maker and a promise-keeper.

So, no matter how dark, how lonely, how angry, how bitter, how devastated, or how hopeless they feel, He has promised He will never leave them.  They can reject Him, but He will not abandon them.  No matter what they say in frustration, or what they do in despair, He promises, “I am with you always.”

My own journey is testimony to His faithfulness — as are the journeys of so many couples I’ve taught, met with, comforted and encouraged.  We are all witnesses to the truth that God is faithful, and He is with them.  One day, they will be witnesses, too.

===================================================

For more inspiration, resources and cause for hope, click this link

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Filed under Battles