The devastating experience of loss is inherent in the infertility journey. Loss of a pregnancy, of an achiever self-image, of the illusion of control, of a naïve belief in invulnerability, of the highly-prized idea of Happily Ever After achieved effortlessly and on the ideal timetable. Every one of us experiences these losses.
And then what?
I firmly believe the way we respond to our losses determines how our journey will unfold. We can choose to dwell on them incessantly – filling our minds with thoughts of defeat, failure, disappointment and doubt. Or, we can choose to metabolize our losses, learn what we can from them, and step forward into our future with faith in the Lord’s promise: “I will never leave you or forsake you.”
I ran into a man I met through the infertility group this past weekend. His wife conceived recently, after years of infertility. You’d think he’d be ecstatic, but other things in his life remain challenging. So, rather than choosing to focus on the incredible blessing they’ve received, God’s responsiveness to their prayers, and the ongoing encouragement of many friends, he continues to dwell on what he doesn’t have.
He maintains a steady stream of negativity – a gallows humor monologue that he says is his coping method. It may give him an outlet for stress, as he claims, but I’ve noticed that it doesn’t seem to make him feel better. Instead, it drives away those who try to encourage him (sometimes including his wife), and it persistently speaks a lack of faith over his circumstances.
Does that really matter? Does his running commentary do any harm?
The Bible says,
“Therefore… since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”
Those words aren’t just a suggestion. They offer powerful insight into what we can do to change our circumstances and reach our goal(s). In his book, Success God’s Way, Dr. Charles Stanley explains what this verse says about our role in our success.
“The good news in this passage,” he writes, “is that you are surrounded by a host of encouragers, both those who are living and those who have gone to be with the Lord. You are wise to be encouraged by them and to seek to be like them… always with the perspective, what God has done for others, He can and will do for me!” He continues, “The Lord Himself should be our principal encourager. He is the One who continually speaks deep within our hearts, ‘I will help you succeed.’”
Unfortunately, it is impossible to hear God’s encouragement when we persist in filling our minds with thoughts of failure, disappointment and resentment. The Holy Spirit can – and will – help us remove these roadblocks when we ask for His help, but He will not overpower our free will. If we choose to reject thoughts of hope in order to dwell on past heartaches and current fears, He will respect our freedom of choice. And we will remain mired in hopelessness.
Are you fearful about whether you’ll ever succeed in becoming a parent? Are you doubting that God is with you in the pursuit of your dreams, or that He will enable you to realize them? If your answer is yes…
1) Ask God to help you overcome the roadblock of negative thinking that has stalled your progress.
2) Get in agreement with His promise, “Ask and you will receive, that your joy may be full.”
3) Resist the temptation to make self-indulgent u-turns that revisit past failures, refresh feelings of despair, and oppose hope in God’s promises with “realistic” negativity.
4) Anticipate God’s love for you being converted into action on your behalf – and walk boldly into the future He has planned for you, confident with hope.
Need more inspiration and cause for confident hope? Read Pregnant with Hope: Good News for Infertile Couples and hear ten couples’ first-hand accounts of their journeys from hopelessness to joy.