Tag Archives: pride

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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Lost and in a Panic

Years ago, on a vacation to New Mexico, my husband and I decided to take a short hike in the Sandia Mountains.  We were told that the popular trail was well-marked, and so we set off feeling confident.  Several hours later, as the sun began to set, we realized we’d made a serious mistake.  We’d lost sight of the trail, but kept going — certain we could find it again.  Instead, we were now miles from the trailhead with no food or water.

No one knew where we were.  It was getting cold, and we were getting scared.  So, we began to walk faster.  Soon, we were almost running through the darkening woods.  I suggested, half-seriously, that we could spell out a rescue message with rocks.  My husband pointed out that no one was looking for us, so we’d be wasting precious daylight.  We were struggling mightily to control a rising tide of panic.

Not a bad metaphor for the infertility journey.

We set out on what we believe will be a short, safe and enjoyable journey to parenthood.  We’re with the one we love, and we trust this is going to be simple, so enthusiasm is high.  We’re going to have a baby!  But then, we discover we’re off the beaten path.  The route everyone else finds so easy to follow has somehow taken us somewhere else entirely.  How did we get so lost?

We realize we’re ill-equipped for what we’re suddenly facing.  What do we do now?  Can anyone help us?  No one knows exactly where we are – us included.  So, how do we find our way out of here?  The instinctive response to all this uncertainty is a rising tide of panic.  And with panic, comes irrational acceleration.

Peter Block, in his book The Answer to How is Yes, writes that “We treat urgency like a performance-enhancing drug, as if speed will hasten change….”  We want to change our circumstances, escape suffering and reach our desired destination, so we accelerate, thinking, “Go faster – it’ll be over sooner!”  That impulse led my husband and me to make some reckless choices as we tried to race through infertility.  We were rushing along half-blind – so intent on escaping the wilderness of infertility, we hardly stopped to think.

“Wait,” the Bible says.  “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”   That’s the answer… the solution… the way through this wilderness to the desired destination.  We need to realize, the voice saying “Hurry, hurry!” is not God’s.  And if it’s the only voice we hear, we’re definitely lost.  But, we are not lost to God.

We are never alone or abandoned in the wilderness of infertility.  We are constantly under the loving protection and guidance of the Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Jesus counsels us, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. ” This is the greatest challenge, and the great invitation, of the wilderness journey.

God already knows the precise day and moment when the journey will end.  He knows what will happen, and why this experience will have been a blessing-in-disguise.  This journey is an opportunity for Him to mold us – making  us more like the people He longs for us to be by the time we reach our destination:  trusting, grateful, God-reliant people.

Can we trust Him?  Can we wait with confident hope – focused not on the depth of our fear, but the goodness of our God?  The first step to saying “yes” is slowing down and waiting.  Only then can we hear the voice that whispers, “…This is the way; walk in it.”

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Find many more resources & cause for hope at PregnantWithHope.com

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Insight from Humility Hill

To all who are struggling with infertility,

I thought about you as I hiked up Humility Hill.  That may sound strange, but it’s true.  As I climbed, I realized that sharing this story might prevent you from making the same mistake I did.  So, here goes….

Two years ago, there was something I desperately wanted.  It wasn’t material “stuff,” it was a blessing – and one I was convinced was absolutely essential to the future I envisioned.  I’d done what I could to influence events in my favor, but the outcome was completely out of my hands.  So, I turned my attention to God and began to pray like crazy.

I would set off on long walks and pray about all the ways that saying “yes” to my desire would be wise on God’s part.  Like a persistent salesman, I showed up at every turn, relentlessly doing my best to show God the wisdom of agreeing with my extensive research, my wise judgment, my logic and reason.  I wanted Him to realize He didn’t need to think this through – because I already had!

All the traits and skills that had made me a successful advertising executive were brought to bear:  positioning, strategic thinking, timing the pitch, compelling arguments, downside risk assessment.  You name it, I covered it.  My prayers were 100% transmit, 0% receive because there was only one thing I wanted to hear from God:  YES.  Until I heard it, I’d keep at it.

So, did I convince Him?

No.

That’s why I call it Humility Hill.

I was hiking up the hill one day on one of my long walks, giving God an earful, when I reached my conclusion:  “… and that’s why I want you to do what I will.”  Those were the words my mind prayed – and they froze me on the spot.  I have no idea what really happened, but it seemed as if I turned to stone the minute I heard myself say, “…do what I will.”  It was if I’d said, “Obey me, God.”  I realized, that’s what I was really praying.  I was telling the God of the universe:  do what I say.

My will — not Thine.

That realization left me breathless.  I don’t know how long I stood there, not breathing.  Not thinking.  Not moving.  Just staring my hubris in the face.  I had spent months pestering God to bend to my will.  Begging Him, pleading with Him, browbeating and reasoning with Him.  I was horrified… and very ashamed.  I stood atop the hill for a long time, having no idea what to say or do.  I wanted to look away from the truth, but I couldn’t.  Then, I realized there was only one thing to say… the words of Jesus:  “Not my will, but thine.”

In that moment, I let go.  I released my grip on everything I desperately wanted to control.  God had revealed my arrogant self-absorption, and I chose to face it.  To humble myself and change it.  I chose – in that moment – to give up the fight for control.

A few months later, I got my answer.  It was as close to “yes” as it could be, but still be “no.”  It seemed clear that God was saying, “I want you to know I heard you – but I have a better plan.”  Not long afterwards, that better plan manifested itself.  It was, and continues to be, so much better than what I prayed for.

Because of that experience, I’ve learned to pray for God’s best in every situation.  I don’t try to tell Him what that is; He already knows.  And I’ve realized, I don’t always know.  The Bible says He “withholds no good thing,” and I’ve come to believe it’s true for those who trust and honor Him.  As a result, I find myself at peace – even in the midst of uncertainty.

If you’re ready to take God at His word, stop praying for your will to be done.  Pray for His best – and then, watch Him delight in giving you more than you imagined possible.

He will.

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

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The High Price of Pride

Not long ago, I heard a woman in a radio commercial say:

“I can’t afford pride.  I’ve got bills to pay and obligations to meet….”

I started thinking, what price do we pay for pride?  And why do we do it?  As we’re going through infertility, what does it cost us – and is it worth it?

Every year, advertisers spend billions trying to convince us that if we don’t buy what they’re selling, we risk becoming social outcasts – judged by the world, and found lacking.  It’s easy enough to see through the strategy, but there are times when it’s difficult to resist the underlying message.  Essentially, that message is:  “you are the star in the only story that matters.  The one everyone is watching.  If you don’t meet or exceed expectations, instead of feeling proud of all the attention, you are going to feel shame.”

That’s a very toxic message, and one we receive hundreds of times a day.  Without realizing it, with enough exposure, we start to believe it’s the truth.  Our egos only serve to confirm it:  yes, I’m important.  It’s all about me.

So, to avoid public humiliation, we focus our attention on protecting the secret that, for some reason, we can’t have a baby.  This choice adds tremendous pressure to the already-stressful infertility experience.  It enables us to avoid the imaginary spotlight – but at the cost of separation, isolation, and the loss of support and encouragement we so desperately need.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

God says the opposite of pride isn’t shame; it’s humility.  It’s acknowledging that we aren’t the center of the universe, and life isn’t all about us.  Although that realization may be a slight bruise to the ego, it’s also a great relief.  It means we don’t have to be perfect; God already knows we’re flawed.  We don’t have to earn our blessings; God already intends to give them to us.  We don’t have to explain our childlessness; God has a plan and a purpose for this journey.  All we need to do is trust Him.

“To you, O Lord, I life up my soul; in you I trust, O my God.  No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame….” [Psalm 25:1-3].

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Find more resources and cause for hope at PregnantWithHope.com

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Victory on God’s Terms

I’ve just finished reading the biography of Rees Howells, a Welsh minister from the early 20th century.  It arrived in my mailbox months ago, tattered and disintegrating, held together by a rubber band.  A gift from a reader of this blog.

I don’t remember exactly why the woman said she sent it.  I tucked it on a shelf thinking I might get to it someday.  When a snowstorm iced us into the house indefinitely, the book jumped off the shelf into my hand and I began to read.

What a story.

The book narrates Rees Howells’ decision to say ‘yes’ to every leading from the Holy Spirit – no matter how difficult, unnerving, or humbling – and the amazing life journey that resulted.  One particular story captured my imagination.  It was the only story of (apparent) failure….

Howells had been praying for weeks for a woman in a nearby village who was dying.  It was the first time he’d ever prayed so passionately for God to save a life.  Suddenly, he felt in his spirit that she would be healed completely. He joyfully shared this news with her, and they were both confident of victory.  But then, to his great surprise, she died suddenly.  It was devastating for him.  How could God have promised life, and yet she died?

According to Howells, the Holy Spirit revealed to him that God had responded to his prayers by healing the woman’s body just before she died.   And the woman knew it.  “She was shaking hands vigorously and saying ‘goodbye’ [to friends and family] with such excitement, as if she was going on a wonderful adventure.”  She knew she’d been fully healed; she also knew that she was going to be with God.  It was complete victory, and she was exuberant.

But Howells’ wasn’t.  When he heard she’d died, he felt true spiritual distress.  Why, if she had regained her health, did the woman have to die?  What was God’s purpose in this outcome?

The Holy Spirit revealed that if the woman had lived, Howells would have been tempted to bask in the glory – as if he had saved her himself.  Everyone in the village had known about his prayer campaign.  He would’ve received the glory; not God.  But he hadn’t cured her.  He couldn’t.  Only God could.  And He did.

By curing her just before taking her to be with Him, God received the full measure of glory (in both the woman’s gratitude, and her demonstrated eagerness to be with Him), and Howells received the assurance that his prayers were powerful and effective.

The world just couldn’t see the victory.

When I read that story, I got a text-to-self jolt of adrenaline.  That epiphany feeling that told me God was showing me something important.  Victory sometimes looks like failure …. The world can’t see or understand it….  There is temptation to bask in the glory of a desired outcome….  A promise can come from God and be fulfilled, yet not save the life that was prayed for….

I realized that I had felt like Howells – as if God had made a promise to my spirit, and yet what I saw was not life, but death.  It happened with our twins – the first children we conceived after a long battle with infertility.

Like Howells, we’d shared the good news when we’d received God’s promise (in our case, in the form of two beating hearts).  And, like Howells, we’d assumed we knew exactly how the story would unfold:  good news would be followed by good health, and good health by long life.

At the time, we didn’t think much about giving God glory.  We were too caught up in the excitement, and the anticipation of something amazing.  Were we tempted to bask in the glory of bringing the first grandchildren into the world?  Maybe a little.  But we would’ve said at the time that that was harmless.

When their hearts stopped beating – first Baby A’s, and then several weeks later, Baby B’s – we were consumed with grief and a spiritual distress much like Howells’.  We had succeeded, and yet we had failed.  A vision of the future as a family had come from God and been fulfilled (to a point), and yet the lives that were prayed for had ended suddenly.

Like Howells, we could see the failure… but not the victory.  Until years later, when our two children were born.  Despite being 22 months apart, people often ask us, “Are they twins?”  I don’t think that’s a coincidence.  I think that is victory… on God’s timetable, and on God’s terms.

To God be the glory. 

 

 

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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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When God Says, “No”

I was raised with a can-do spirit.  It gives me incredible satisfaction to tackle something I’ve never tried before and discover I can do it.  So, no surprise… that was my strategy for getting pregnant.  I figured:  it’s not rocket science, my parents did it on their honeymoon (and they weren’t even trying), and we’ll get it done in no time.

So, yeah… about that….

Our failure was disappointing, but not devastating.  Devastation would come further down the road.  After months of trying, then discovering I wasn’t even ovulating.  After blood draws, ultrasounds, injections, surgeries, miscarriages, and more.  Why did we have to go through so much pain to get to parenthood?  Why did it have to hurt so much – for so long – before we reached a time of joy and gratitude?

The Bible says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”   Hmmmmm.  Was that the case with me?  Put it this way….

I have come to believe that, sometimes, God’s best for me is a “no.”  “No” to my plan.  “No” to my timetable.  “No” to me being in control.  In the moment, that message causes so much pain.  It hurts my heart (don’t you love me, God?), my spirit (can I still trust you, God?), and my mind (this makes no sense, God!).  If I’m honest, I’ll admit it also wounds my pride (I resent this, God).

All too often, I want to be in control and accomplish my plan on my timetable.  Efficiently.  Effectively.  Apparently, effortlessly.  I secretly want to say, “I did it!”  Sometimes (despite the fact that I think I’m a great planner), God can see that my plan isn’t going to lead to His best for me.  So,  He says, “no” to my plan… and also, to my pride.

But, that’s not the end of the story.  When God’s “yes” comes, I can see in hindsight how His “no” set the stage for something better.  Something I could never have achieved without Him.  And I am reminded that His “no” wasn’t punishment given in anger; it was full of grace. 

Too often, infertile couples think of God as having the power to work with us, but refusing to.  That’s aggravating (!), especially for Type A personalities.  We want people on our team who are going to execute our plans, on our timetables – as in, “work with me, or get out of my way.”

But God’s not a subordinate with a performance appraisal pending.  We can’t threaten to fire Him if He doesn’t meet our expectations.  Sure, we can disengage and refuse to communicate with Him.  But as soon as we reach a dead-end, we’ll discover that we need Him much more than He needs us.

Remember:  God has the power – and the desire – to move us toward the dream of parenting.  He planted the seed of hope in us for a reason!  But first, there needs to be a change in us.  A willingness to admit, “I can’t do it all; only You can, God.”

Those words of humility and trust are the best offering we can make.  They  honestly admit our limitations (which are no secret to God) and our need for help & real hope (which are our free gifts from God).  The next time you hear, “no,” try seeing it as an indication that God is steering you toward His very best.  You may not like the process, but trust me — you will love the outcome.

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

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