Tag Archives: hopelessness

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.”


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

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Filed under Bystanders, Loss

Infertility and the Easter Blahs

Is Easter meaningful for infertile couples?  That can be a surprisingly tricky question.

For most people, it signals the arrival of a joyful spiritual season, a candy-filled celebration of spring, or both.  The commercial imagery associated with the holiday is innocuous enough:  bunnies, flowers, eggs… all signs of fertile, new life.  But, for those struggling through infertility, that focus can be a reminder of what we don’t have and can’t seem to achieve.

The resurrection message echoes that reminder – of the lack of life we feel (spiritually), or seem able to create and sustain (biologically).  Where is God in this struggle?  Why does this journey seem so barren and lifeless?  These  thoughts add a sorrowful undercurrent to the symbols of the season.

Expressing grief during this exuberantly fertile, hope-filled season can seem, and feel, selfish and self-indulgent.  Everyone around us is dressed in bright colors, enjoying the sunshine, celebrating the end of winter’s darkness.  Why don’t we join in?  Because it hurts.  So, we pull back from the celebration – feeling fragile, heartbroken and very much alone.

Should couples struggling through infertility be glad, then, only after Easter’s passed?

Not so fast.

A few years ago, on Easter Sunday, I walked past a tiny church that couldn’t hold more than twenty people at a time.  Services were over.  The parking lot was empty.  The doors were closed.  But, the sign out front proclaimed, “God still rolls away stones.”  That got me thinking….

In the Bible, the rolled-away stone at Jesus’ tomb revealed good news (despite foreshadowing, not at all what his followers had anticipated). They found, not death as they’d expected, but life.  Not cause for grief as they’d been feeling, but for joy.  Not defeat as they’d believed they were suffering, but victory!

In an instant, everything the disciples thought they knew and understood about what had happened turned upside-down.  This wasn’t the end; it was the beginning.

How does that moment speak to the infertility experience?  Just as in scripture, a stone is rolled into place when we conclude it’s over, and hope is dead.

In the midst of infertility, our fear and doubt frequently steer us toward this conclusion.  When we agree with these feelings, dwell on negative thoughts, and accept them as “truth,” we allow satan to roll a stone over the hope God has placed in our hearts.  Or worse, we put the stone there ourselves. The longer that stone is in place, the deader our hope seems… until hopelessness becomes the new normal.

But God has another plan.

He rolls away the stone and creates a new hope.  It is a rule-breaking, expectation-shattering, despair-defeating hope.  A God-sized Hope!  Hope that is not limited by human understanding.  Hope that leaps out of the darkness of our fear-filled hearts and into the light, alive again!

How does He do it?

With a word of encouragement or a scrap of good news.  A new protocol.  An inspiring book.  A “hang in there” phone call.  A hopeful test result.  A stranger’s blog post.  A helpful suggestion.  A coincidental conversation.  A timely discovery.  Whatever it takes to breathe life into the hope He purposefully planted in our hearts.

When we sense and claim this hope, when we trust with all our hearts and do not rely on our ability to understand [Proverbs 3:5], we feel a surge in our spirit:  “Lord, I don’t understand, but if You say so, I do believe it’s possible.”

When we say “Yes” to hope, and “No” to fear, we affirm our faith in the God of miracles who every Easter reminds us:  I can do anything.  Let Him roll away your stone.





Find more resources and cause for hope at PregnantWithHope.com

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Filed under Hope, Trust