Tag Archives: Peace

What That Bible Promise Really Means…

When infertile couples talk about what the Bible has to say about their situation, there is usually more confusion than clarity.  Take this verse, for example:

“Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.”

It sounds simple enough, at least on the surface.  It seems to say that if you like God a lot, He’ll give you what you want.  Sort of like a spiritual Santa.  You friend Him; He blesses you.

Couples frequently cite this verse to one another early in the journey, as if reassuring each other of a momentarily-forgotten sure thing.  God may be moving slowly, they’ll agree, but He’s going to come through in the end.  If you really want something and He knows it, it’s just a matter of time.

But with time, confidence wanes.  They’ve claimed the promise they thought they understood, but they’re still childless – and now, increasingly confused and resentful.   What’s the deal?  Why didn’t God keep His promise?  We told Him we loved Him, but still no baby.  What’s the trick to getting God to “give you the desires of your heart”?

Ask that out loud, and it sounds selfish.  Even manipulative.  But, truth be told, this is the question every couple longs to ask: How do we get God to give us what we want?

I can save you some searching; there is no answer to that question anywhere in scripture.  Why?  Because it’s the wrong question to be asking.  It’s a question rooted in a desire for control, made urgent by uncertainty and fear.  I’m convinced that part of the purpose of this journey is to move us away from that question, toward a deeper, richer faith life.

How do we make that move – away from a fearful, consuming desire for control?

Start with “Delight yourself in the Lord….”  Delighting our Selves in the Lord means shifting our focus away from Self.  Away from what we want, what we lack, what we don’t know and can’t control.  It means choosing our thoughts rather than being at the mercy of them, and making them God-centered rather than Self-centered.

This is the kind of relationship God wants us to have with Him – one where we find joy in everything that connects us to Him, and everything that reveals Him to us.  When we make the shift to this perspective, “perfect love casts out fear” and we begin to experience peace despite uncertainty.

If and when you delight your Self in God, “He will give you the desires of your heart.”  That is the promise of the verse.  This does not mean He’ll hand you whatever you want.  It means, He will place in your heart desires for what He knows is best for you.  He will give you the desire to see His will for you become your present and your future.

If you know God’s perfect will takes all things into consideration and plans for the best possible outcome, why would you want anything less?

Begin to shift your focus away from getting God to do what you want, and toward wanting what God intends to do — in you, through you, and for you.  It’s the path to peace… to joy… and ultimately, to parenthood.

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Renewing Hope After a Loss

Nick, a man who bravely shared his feelings about loss, kindly allowed me to quote him months ago when this post first ran.  He and his wife Anna have come a long way since then….

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Dear Abby recently published a letter from a woman whose daughter died:

“I am writing this not only for myself, but for all parents who have lost a child….  I know people mean well when they encourage me to get on with my life, but this is my life.”  Abby responded, “…the death of a child is the most devastating loss parents can suffer and the experience is life-changing.”

Abby’s right.  And that’s true whether the child you lose is twenty years old, as the letter writer’s daughter was, or just a few weeks in utero.  Sadly, Abby stopped there.  She offered compassion — but no words of hope — for the parent who is convinced her life can never know the kind of joy it did before her daughter died.

Can you ever find hope when the one who embodied your hope for the future dies?  Is there anything but grief to be felt when the highly-prized idea of life with a much-beloved child comes to a tragic end?

It depends on what you choose to believe.

Here’s what I mean….

After four years of infertility, Anna and Nick had finally conceived through IVF.  Then, Anna began bleeding a few weeks ago.  They lost the baby.  In a painfully honest blog post, Nick wrote, “What if I want to sink? What if I want just for a minute to revel in my grief, to wonder if I deserve it, to claim I saw it coming because nothing good should happen to me?”

Like the mother who wrote to Abby, Nick was tempted to believe that darkness had a claim on his spirit that was justifiable.  He felt the pull of that darkness and wondered if he deserved it.  Was this the future he should plan on, despite all they had hoped for?  Was this his destiny:  loss, grief, hopelessness?

He wrote, “Like Peter, I know that sooner or later I must stop looking at the waves and call out to Jesus – and Matthew 14:31 tells me His response:  ‘Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him.’  I may not know why [we lost our baby], but I do know my Savior.”

That’s what Abby missed completely.

Sinking is never the end of your story if God is the author of that story.  Loss may be the beginning of the story, and grief may be the middle.  Despair may be the end of a particular chapter, but it is never the end of the story.  There is always hope because God always redeems.  That is who He is: our Redeemer.

He is also our Source of strength and our Comforter: “He will lead them to springs of living water; And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”  He is full of compassion for the losses that take our breath away and leave us staggering.  Losses He knew were coming.  Losses that plunge us into a darkness that seems impenetrable, and in which we see no cause for hope.

Thankfully, God can see what and when we can’t. “Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light.  He will bring me out in the light; and I will see his righteousness.”

Nick knows there is cause for hope even if he doesn’t feel hopeful.  His hope is not embodied in the baby they just miscarried, but in the God who creates and sustains life according to His purpose.

That same God tells us, “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God.  I will strengthen and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

When we are sinking – overwhelmed by grief and unable to save ourselves – He will reach out to save us.  Jesus did it for Peter.  And I promise, God will do it for you.  When He does, don’t let go.

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Needing to Know, ‘Why?’

Knowing why I have to do something, or why something is happening, has always mattered to me.  I guess it’s because I didn’t like taking orders as a kid.  “Because I said so” was my father’s justification for most of the demands he placed on me, and I (silently) resented that.  It struck me as an abuse of power, and it left me feeling powerless.

It seemed to me that if something was important, it was reasonable for me to want to know why, and for whoever was in authority to explain that to me.

Many times, as an adult, that same “need to know” trait has made me hesitate to obey God’s commands, or to trust Him in a particular situation.  Especially when there’s no obvious reason why He’d want things to go a certain way, I find myself dragging my feet, waiting for an explanation.

Here’s why that’s a problem:  when I refuse to budge until I get a satisfying answer, my circumstances don’t change.  Like a longsuffering parent with a willful child, God lets me stew in my situation until I humbly acknowledge that maybe trying things His way – even if I don’t understand why – is reasonable.

Is that an abuse of power?  In the midst of infertility, I sure thought so.  I struggled mightily with anger and resentment at God’s apparent lack of interest in my suffering.

Why wasn’t I ovulating?  Why couldn’t I stop miscarrying?  Why was having a baby so hard for us and so easy for everyone else?  Why didn’t our doctor have all the answers?  And if God had them, why wasn’t He giving them to us?  Like a petulant child, I wanted to know, “Why?!  Why?!  Why?!”  I kept silent only out of fear I’d make Him angry.

In hindsight, all that drama looks like a lot of self-inflicted suffering.  Why?  Because if we truly trust God to keep the promise that “all things work together for good,” then there is always an answer to “why?”:  it is part of His plan for our lives.  Sometimes, in the moment, that needs to be enough.

Either we trust Him, or we don’t.

That, of course, is the great struggle of infertility.  Will I trust Him, or will I fight to retain control?

With that as context, I had a big epiphany recently about the injunction “Pray without ceasing.”  I’d read and heard those words plenty of times before, but always wanted to know “why?”  Really, I think I wanted to know, “What’s in it for me?  I get why it makes you feel appreciated, God, but why should I put in all that effort — especially if you don’t seem to respond?”

A few days ago, in a moment of incredible grace, God showed me why.  Now, I know it’s vitally important for infertile couples to obey.  Here are the reasons:

1)      Constant prayer is an acknowledgment of His role in our story.

2)      It means we recognize and respect His authority, and we welcome His powerful presence — even though we cannot control it.

3)      It keeps us talking and listening to the only one with the ability to change anything & everything about our circumstances.

4)      Constant prayer creates healthy boundaries between us and a constant barrage of negative thoughts, worries and doubts.

5)      It enables us to experience moments of gratitude, even when we aren’t grateful for infertility.

6)      It helps us maintain perspective – God’s perspective.

7)      It helps us tune out the world’s messages about instant gratification, and helps us remember that God’s timing is always perfect.

8)      It grounds us in who we are to God, and who He is to us.

Bottom line, “pray without ceasing” is an imperative command because it’s good for us.  It helps us.  It comforts us, renews us, and strengthens us for the journey.

This command is not an abuse of power.  It is a gift.  An invitation.  A chance to draw near to the one who knows our struggles and loves us deeply.  It is a blessing that is available whenever we choose to make ourselves available.

Is that enough reason for you to pray?  It is for me.

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For more inspiration and cause for hope, read Pregnant With Hope: Good News for Infertile Couples and visit PregnantWithHope.com

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The Season of Discernment

Unexplained infertility can seem like psychological torture.  No one can tell you what’s wrong, what will work, or if anything ever will.

Faced with little-to-no information, how can you make decisions?  When the voice in your head is shouting, “The clock is ticking! You’re running out of time!” how do you think clearly?  When the most-likely-to-succeed protocol fails – repeatedly – what should you do next?  Where can you turn for input?  Who can you trust?  And how much more can you handle?

Bottom line:  What does it mean when there’s still no baby?

Welcome to a season of discernment.

When Don and his wife reached this point in their infertility journey, Don made a very wise choice.  He decided to slow down, wait, and listen.  “I’m one who believes God’s touch is very subtle,” he said.  “You’ve got to exert immense patience to understand – and wait for – what He’s doing in your life.  If you jump to a conclusion, you may miss the message.”

After several miscarriages, Don thought, “We haven’t been able to get pregnant.  Is God sending us a message?  I was listening and thinking, is God saying, ‘You shouldn’t be parents?’ or, ‘You should take another approach?’”  He and Robin decided to join the infertility Bible study to spend time with other couples struggling with the same questions.

“When I first went to the class, I was struck by how many people were emotionally distraught about infertility.  But I kept reminding myself:  God has a way of moving things around so that it’s a win-win for everybody.  It sounds formulaic, but you have to trust Him.  Be ready – do your part – but let it come on His time.”

The more they listened to other couples’ stories – especially those of “alumni” who came back to talk to the group – the more they realized, “you have to be patient.”  Speed and a desperate sense of urgency had not made  these other couples parents.  In fact, just the opposite!  Quite a few affirmed Don’s sense that  “you can’t just take over.  God’s got opportunities, messages and subtleties there for you… but you’ve got to be listening.”

Over time, Don and his wife felt a growing, deepening peace about the choice to adopt.  “God understood what I needed to make a decision,” Don recalled.  “We researched our options thoroughly, moving slowly enough to seek God’s guidance at every step.”

To a casual observer, it might have looked as if they were making no progress on their journey toward parenthood.  But in fact, the most important progress occurred when they slowed down and were perfectly still.  How so?  A birth mother tried to put her twin boys up for adoption five times  – but she always changed her mind.  Finally, she decided she was ready.

“If we’d been ready 6 months earlier, this mom wouldn’t have been ready,” Don said.  “And if we’d been ready 6 months later, we might have missed adopting our boys.  I want to recognize God’s timing in this miracle.  It was perfect.”

God’s timing always is.

The words “Be still and know that I am God” are not just a suggestion from scripture.  They are an imperative command for our benefit.  They are also the only way to answer the many unanswered questions on this journey.

When we are still, we make space for God’s voice to be heard.  Sometimes, He may be silent.  If so, we should stay still, but not be afraid.   He has not forgotten or neglected us.  And it is not His desire to compound our fear and anxiety.

We must trust that He is well able to speak clearly when we are ready to listen, and when the time is right. Those are the two key ingredients to forward progress.

This season, give yourself the two gifts that will bless your journey:  intentional stillness, and active listening.  Expect God’s guidance – wait patiently for it – and He will honor your faith with His faithfulness.

He always does.

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For more inspiration and words of hope, visit PregnantWithHope.com or read Pregnant With Hope: Good News for Infertile Couples.

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Fertile Narcissism

“The faster someone achieves success, the more narcissistic they’ll tend to be.  Slow & steady builds character over the years.”   – Rick Warren

Although I doubt he was tweeting about infertility, I’m convinced Rick Warren’s absolutely right.

We live in a culture that celebrates instant gratification and effortless success.  The gossip media constantly barrage us with breathless coverage of celebrity pregnancies and baby arrivals.  “Look!  Blissful parents!  Gorgeous babies!  Happily-ever-after!”  For couples struggling to conceive, this cultural obsession only makes the burden of infertility harder to bear.

What if it’s not as wonderful as it all looks?  Could there actually be a downside to effortless conception?  And conversely, could the infertility journey be a blessing-in-disguise?  Warren’s tweet certainly suggests the possibility, as do many verses of scripture.

Think about it for a minute…

We’ve all crossed paths with narcissistic pregnant women.  Rather than being thankful for an incredible gift, they seem to take pleasure in complaining about their uncontrollable fertility, or the inconvenience of being pregnant.  Their words and actions reveal a self-absorption that is disturbing, and it does not bode well for the children they’re expecting.

In a Discovery Health documentary, one woman sobbed when her ultrasound revealed she had not conceived a girl.  A healthy 18-week pregnancy was not enough to satisfy her.  Already the mother of four boys, she said she would “always, always be sad” that she was having another.  Apparently, this woman wasn’t as eager to steward a child as she was desperate to fulfill a vision of herself.

She did not consider how wonderful this boy could turn out to be — or how awful a particular girl could have been — because it wasn’t about the child.  It was about her desire to fulfill her plan for her life.

In another story from the same documentary, a fertile mother (also with four boys) elected to use IVF with PGD — three times — in her quest for a girl.  Her first two IVFs yielded only boys, so she had those embryos discarded. Her third IVF yielded one girl and five boys.  The girl was transferred; the remaining embryos were destroyed.

Once again, no thought was given to what had intentionally been created (this time, through IVF).  The unwanted embryos weren’t donated to infertile couples, or even to research.  They were treated like trash — because it wasn’t about anyone else, only about a woman fulfilling her dream of her family on her terms.

That is narcissistic fertility, and it is nothing like what God intends for us as parents.

He wants us to be people of character and of faith who commit ourselves wholeheartedly to stewarding the souls He entrusts to us.  That’s what I see over and over again in infertile couples who become parents — whether by conception or adoption.  They have learned the hard way that instant gratification is not part of God’s character-building formula.  In fact, just the opposite.

The infertility journey has been a sort of spiritual obstacle course for them.  They have become stronger and more mature as they have navigated their way along it.  They’ve learned how to work together to confront problems, deal with difficult emotions, and struggle through heartaches.

As the Bible says, “… we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”  This is the blessing-in-disguise of infertility.  Although we would never wish for suffering, when we put God at the center of our experience (rather than our selves), the hardship of infertility sets off a chain reaction that builds character and produces hope that outlasts any circumstance we will ever face — as infertile couples, or as parents.

Narcissistic fertility sees pregnancy as a means of  self-gratification.  God wants so much more for you — and by extension, for the children He intends to entrust to you.   There’s a purpose to His plan.  Persevere, trust Him, and you’ll see.

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The Gift of Perspective

Before he died, my father was a cancer specialist.  I grew up hearing stories about patients who had become like extended family to him.  Many of them battled terrible forms of the disease with courage and grace – which inspired him, and burdened his heart.  He did everything he could to heal their bodies.  He also took seriously the call to minister to their spirits.

One Christmas, I cross-stitched these words for him, “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” [Psalm 118:24].  To my surprise, he hung the framed verse in his chemotherapy room.  I wondered, wouldn’t that rub salt in patients’ wounds?  Who could possibly come for chemo and feel glad for the day?

As it turned out, that little message was a powerful witness.  It reminded patients that every day is a gift full of purpose.  Those who chose to trust God’s purposefulness could truly rejoice and be glad – even when their circumstances commanded otherwise – because they could see past the moment and lean into its greater purpose.

Patients began telling my father that the chair across from that cross-stitched verse was “the best seat in the house.”  Many told him they would rather wait for that particular chair to be available than go through chemo without the power of those inspirational words.  Patients reported feeling blessed by the time spent staring at the psalmist’s verse, even as their IV drips summoned nausea.

Some made the words a prayer, some a whispered mantra, some a silent meditation.  All took them to heart and found strength and hope in them.

And then, what happened?  Was everyone miraculously healed?

No.

Every journey took its own course – just as every infertility journey does.

Then, what really changed?  Here’s what… That little handmade message invited God into an awful place and transformed it into a sanctuary of hope.  The experience of receiving chemo became an uplifting spiritual one, rather than just a taxing physical one.  In many cases, that difference transformed the journey.

Is there any place in your life that needs transforming?  A physical place that represents your suffering and sadness?  Or a psychological place that harbors fears, worries, anxieties and dread?  If so, I urge you to give yourself the gift of gratitude this Thanksgiving.

Claim God’s promises to be with you always, to make all things work together for good, to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you hope and a future.  And then, put the words of the psalmist before your eyes:

“This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

See God’s goodness with eyes of faith.  Trust His purposefulness.  And realize that there is so much to be thankful for, even as you make the difficult journey of infertility.

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Need more reasons to be thankful?  More hope for the journey?  If so, visit PregnantWithHope.com or read Pregnant With Hope: Good News for Infertile Couples

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The Path of Preparation

These words leaped off the page of a book I read recently:  “When God calls you to do something, He prepares you in advance.”   The same day, I read about the Israelites ending their 40 years in the desert and (finally!) heading toward the Promise Land.

I started thinking…  What about their journey through the desert was purposeful?  How did God use it to prepare them for the Promise Land?  And, how does that relate to the infertility journey?  In what ways does God use it to prepare us for the “promise land” of parenthood?

The Regional Council of Churches, in its review of Pregnant with Hope: Good News for Infertile Couples, made the comparison, writing…

“This book is a guide for the journey through the wilderness of infertility to joy.  I could not help but think of the children of Israel in the wilderness – their transformational journey.  The lesson learned was to rely on our ever-faithful God, to trust in His hesed.  That Hebrew word, frequently translated as loving-kindness, also means the consistent, relentless, constantly-pursuing, extravagant, unrestrained love of God.”

God kept the Israelites wandering in the desert for 40 years before they finally arrived at the Jordan River.  They passed their turn-off multiple times as they literally walked in circles.  Does that sound familiar?  Have you covered the same ground multiple times – cycle after cycle after cycle – wondering when you’ll ever cross over to parenthood?

How do you trust the hesed of a God who seems to lead you in circles?

The Israelites learned the answer to that question through the journey itself.  Their learning can help you find the path through the wilderness of infertility to joy:

  • Look for God – In the desert, God led the people by appearing as a cloud (by day) or a pillar of fire (by night).  He taught them to expect His presence, and to look past each other – and their anxiety about reaching the destination – to Him.  He should be their focus.
  • Follow God – God told the people that He would go before them, and they should follow.  He would lead them to the Promise Land.  When He moved, they should move; when He stopped, they should stop.  They were in a barren and unfamiliar land.  They would not find their way by refusing or neglecting to follow Him.
  • Rely on God – For 40 years, the Israelites relied on God for sustenance.  They had no food or water, apart from what He provided.  He delivered what they needed every day – for that day, which taught them to turn to Him and thank Him daily.
  • Trust God – Some of the Israelites complained bitterly about the length of their journey and the monotony of their experience.  They did not trust God’s purpose or His timing.  He kept them wandering until they died off.  Only those who trusted God and were grateful for His faithfulness arrived in the Promise Land.

Consider this:  God may be using the infertility journey to accomplish in your life what  He did in the lives of the Israelites.

If so, you are in the “desert” not because you are being punished, but because you are being prepared.  Live into that perspective.  Believe that this is a time of purposeful preparation.  Apply the Israelites’ learning to your journey — look for God, follow Him, rely on Him, trust Him — and rest assured God knows the way through this wilderness to joy.

He will lead, if you will follow.

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For more resources and cause for hope, visit PregnantWithHope.com

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Turns Out, You Are Not Alone

You’re not alone.

I discovered that truth in a whole new way when I went to Sitemeter yesterday.  Sitemeter tells me where blog readers come from.  Not who they are (don’t worry, your privacy’s completely protected), but where in the world they are.  And guess what?

There are infertile couples all around you.

Yesterday, readers came to this site from all over the U.S.  They also came from Canada, Australia, Germany, Singapore, India, England, and countries throughout South America.

Why does that matter?  Because infertility can be so profoundly isolating, it’s easy to believe you’ve been singled-out for suffering and no else has.  Or, that there are a small number of couples going to your particular clinic for help, but few others anywhere else.

That’s a lie.  It’s one of many that will fill your mind with doubt about God’s goodness as you struggle to maintain some equilibrium during infertility.

What can you do in response?

Raise Your Hand – Speak up.  Self-identify.  You won’t face the judgment you fear.  You may face some  ignorance, or insensitivity – but you’re also much more likely to find comfort, support, and company.  Of course, you should choose wisely when deciding whom to tell.  But trust me, it’s definitely a risk worth taking.

Find Community – Once you’ve shared your secret, find some community.  Not because misery loves company, but because “where two or more are gathered, I will be in the midst of them.”  Experiencing the presence of God is the first step toward experiencing the peace that comes with knowing and trusting Him.  Find (or create) a community of people who know what you’re facing, and you will have found a powerful source of strength.

Claim God’s Promises – The Bible is full of words of hope and inspiration.  They’re not outdated or theoretical, but powerful and real.  They can and will speak to your experience, if you ask God to bring His word alive in your story.  Set doubts aside long enough to discover God’s promises, invite Him to make them central to your journey, and watch how that changes everything.

Find Hope – Not sure where or how to find God’s promises in scripture?  Not sure whether to find a group or protect your privacy?  Whatever you decide, make it your goal to find hope for the journey.   Pregnant With Hope: Good News for Infertile Couples can help you discover hope in ways that are meaningful and relevant to you and your partner as you make your way.

There are millions of couples around the world making the same journey you are.  Some of them are crossing (virtual) paths with you when you come to this site; like you, they come seeking words of inspiration and hope.  Millions more have already made the journey; some of them – like me – want to share the good news that the journey won’t last forever, and God is good.

So, remember:  No matter how it feels, you are not alone.

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Find more words of encouragement and hope at PregnantWithHope.com

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Rather Than Self-Pity…

A few days ago, I woke up to a torrential downpour.  My throat was sore, and I’d had a terrible night of sleep.  The alarm clock blared and my first thought was, “This is not going to be a good day.”  Before my feet touched the floor, I convinced myself I could see the future, and it didn’t look good.

In less than an hour, I was in a completely different place – psychologically and spiritually.  How did that happen?  What changed?  Instead of acting on my feelings, I acted on my better impulses.

First, I did a good deed I’d planned last night, even though I wasn’t feeling it – at all. I gift-wrapped a loaf of homemade pumpkin bread, put on a raincoat, and drove across town to deliver it to someone who was awful to my family last week.  When I gave it to her, I thanked her for having acknowledged that she’d behaved horribly, and I told her we value her friendship.

I got back in my car and… guess what?  I felt a little better.  I’d done it for her – schlepping around in the downpour while blowing my nose sure wasn’t for me! – but, it turned out to be good for me, too.

On the way home, I stopped for a bagel.  Seated at the table next to me was a woman coughing loudly.  When I turned to give her a “could you quiet down?” look, I noticed her soaking wet pants and windbreaker.  She realized she’d called too much attention to herself, and got up to leave.  Several minutes later, as I headed for the highway, I saw her slogging through the downpour.  Apparently heading nowhere.

I felt a nudge to help and thought, ‘She’s over there and I’m over here, and the light’s about to change.’  I felt another nudge and thought, ‘I’d have to drive past the exit to catch her.’  Another nudge.  I looked down and saw two meal coupons in my cup holder.  They were for her.

So, I crossed three lanes of traffic and pulled over to wait for her.  She crossed the street.  Frustrated, I pulled out into traffic and crossed the street to meet her.  She saw my car and made a detour.  Determined now to accomplish my mission, I pulled up next to her and rolled down the window.

“Are you hungry and wanting to go somewhere warm and dry?” I shouted over the rain.

“I sure am,” she answered dejectedly.  I realized she didn’t expect me to offer any help.  Had I pulled over just to harass her?  To tell her to leave the neighborhood?

“Take these coupons,” I said as I extended my arm out the window.  “They’re good for food at that restaurant right there.  They’ll let you use them for whatever you need.”  The woman’s self-pity gave way to gratitude and a smile crept over her face.

“God bless you,” she said as she took the coupons from my hand.

As I watched her enter the restaurant, the words ‘It is a blessing to be a blessing’ came to mind, and I realized:  that’s literally true.  The rain was still falling.  My throat still hurt.  I was just as sniffly and tired.  But, I wasn’t feeling self-pity any more.  Instead, I felt purposeful and thankful.  I’d brought a moment of light into two dark situations, setting aside self-pity long enough to do it.  Now, I felt the quiet joy that comes with being obedient and acting out of a servant’s heart.

What a blessing.

Self-pity is a tricky thing.  We tell ourselves we are responding reasonably to what feels crummy and unfair.  It seems like a small enough indulgence, given the fact that we’re suffering (to some degree).  But underneath the veneer of justifiability, it is a toxic thing.

It’s not grief.  It’s not part of a healthy healing process.  Self-pity is a choice to turn our backs on the God we say we trust, so we can focus our attention on ourselves and the awfulness of this moment.  It is a rejection of God’s promise to be faithful  – because we’re not feeling it.  We’re not sensing victory and blessing.  Instead, we’re feeling cursed and defeated.  And frankly, that stinks.

The next time infertility invites you to a pity party, make the effort to bless someone.  It will change your mood, your outlook, and your trajectory.  And it will remind you that God blesses all of us through one another.

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For more inspiration and cause for hope, read Pregnant With Hope: Good News for Infertile Couples and visit PregnantWithHope.com

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Infertility, Starring….

“I am the star in my own drama.”

Say it out loud, and it sounds self-absorbed.  Narcissistic.  Entitled.  And it is.

Truth be told, it’s also our default setting.

It is human nature to care about others’ impressions of us.  To imagine ourselves as interesting and worth noticing, even fascinating enough to be talked about frequently.  Marketers exploit this tendency to see ourselves reflected in the eyes of others.  They use it against us — and we fall for it, all because we think everyone’s looking.

How does this affect the infertility journey?

It fuels our “need” for secrecy.  It reinforces the irrational fear of exposure.  If infertility is evidence we are failures, then we’ve got to hide it.  If infertility means we are defective, unworthy, and destined for a future no one wants, then we’ve got to change this script — and live a life of denial in the meantime.  We’ve got to invest energy in pretense, so that the truth will never be known — until we reach Happily Ever After.

So, we lie:  “We’re not really trying.”

“We’re not sure we want a family.”

“We ‘re focused on our careers right now.”

“We don’t want to give up our freedom yet.”

We think the only way to end this awful charade is to have a baby.  To make our reality match what we want everyone else to see.  Our desperate urgency, at least in part, is rooted in our deep desire to be who and what (we believe) others think we are:  happy, fortunate, successful, blessed.

Consider this… That may not be God’s priority.  Before you become a parent, He may want you to learn that it’s not all about you.  You’re not the star in life’s most important drama.  He may want you to realize that most people are so fully absorbed in their own stories, they’re not paying much attention to yours.  If they are, it’s likely to be out of People magazine curiosity, rather than a deep desire to judge or reject you.

Maybe one of the reasons you are on this infertility journey is because God wants to show you a better way to live.  He wants to give you an opportunity – and an incentive – to set aside constant thoughts of Self, and replace them with more frequents thoughts of Him.  Why would you make that choice?  Because it’s the path to peace and hope, despite any circumstances.

Look at the other women waiting anxiously at the doctor’s office.  They’re all stars in their own drama.  Everyone’s hiding behind a magazine or an IPhone.  Everyone’s stressing.  Everyone would rather be anywhere but here.  No one wants to talk – except about how worried they are.  And no one wants to listen – unless your story is worse than theirs.

But look to God, and you won’t sense anxiety.  Or fear.  Or desperation.  You won’t feel competitive.  Or threatened.  Or jealous.  You’ll find someone who’s been waiting to listen.  Who hoped you would want to talk.  And who knows how to give comfort that reaches deeper and lasts longer than anything the world can offer.

I say this from experience, and with loving compassion:  putting yourself at the center of the story is the reason for your suffering.  Set your Self aside, put God at the center of the story, trust His purposefulness, and expect this blessing to be fulfilled in your life…

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” [Romans 15:13]

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For more inspiration and  cause for hope, read Pregnant With Hope: Good News for Infertile Couples

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Filed under Battles, Humility, Perspective