Guest Post + Giveaway: How to Deal with Fears and Feelings During Infertility
Happy Friday Friends! Today Elizabeth Thompson is sharing her thoughts on infertility. You might recognize her name as she shared a guest post last year, “Is Infertility My Fault?” Elizabeth wrote a book, “When God Says Wait” and just recently wrote another book, “When God Says Go.” The good news? We are giving away 1 copy (audio or print) to 3 winners! To enter head to the link below!
How to Deal with Fears and Feelings During Infertility
I am sitting on the bed in a tangle of sheets, a puddle of tears, telling my husband, “I can’t. I can’t do this. I can’t be living so far from family and friends and stressed about money and sad about our miscarriage all the time. I need something to change. I need a break. I. Can’t. Do. This.”
My poor husband sits silent, and through the haze of tears I can see my words gutting him.
It’s been a long, hard year—so much loss. Daily I am pummeled by so many jumbled feelings I can’t keep track of them all: I feel sad. I feel lonely. I feel needy (and I hate feeling needy). I feel insecure. I feel “less than.” Sometimes I feel distant from God—ignored and unheard and unimportant and (in especially dark moments) abandoned.
And I am afraid. Afraid we can’t have a healthy baby. Afraid I’ll never feel better, never be myself again. Afraid of what the loss we have suffered could do to our marriage. Afraid for our finances in the aftermath of the unexpected medical expenses.
Infertility tries to overwhelm us with a tidal wave of insecurities, doubts, and fears. And if we don’t find a way to fight back with God’s word and God’s strength, those feelings will pull us under. They will drain our energy. Steal our joy. Harm our marriages and friendships. Maybe even pull us away from God.
We may not get to control how long we suffer through infertility, but we can control two things: How we wait and who we become along the way. Here are two simple decisions that helped me grapple with unruly fears and feelings during my baby wait:
I will not let infertility destroy me. I choose to GROW instead.
Those words were hard to type. Everything in me wanted to write, “Just give in. You’re going through a hard time so it’s okay to wallow in sadness, isolate yourself, and just live in a dark, angry place for as long as you want to.” And honestly, you’re going to have days—maybe even weeks and months—when you do that, and friend, I have been there and I absolutely feel your pain. But…but. Sisters, if we don’t want to stay stuck, if we don’t want to let infertility (or any life challenge) destroy our faith, our relationships, and our joy, we have to fight to grow through the hard times. We have to grow and change…we cannot stay the same.
Before infertility, I had always been an emotionally fragile person. When hard times came, I’d just fall apart. I’m sorry to say that when difficulties struck, you might find me sitting in a puddle of tears and self-pity on the bed (or at my desk, or in the car, or…wherever I happened to be). But the time came when I realized: It looks like I’m going to be walking this infertility road for a long time—maybe forever. I have to find a way to get up, dry my tears, and still live a full and meaningful life…even with empty arms and a hole in my heart.
I didn’t make that change overnight, and I didn’t do it perfectly or elegantly, but slowly, I tried to grow. To become stronger. To find joy even when part of my life still made me sad.
I am inspired by Esther, a Jewish woman in the Bible who was forced to marry a foreign king. For a long time Esther stayed safe by keeping quiet and hiding her heritage. But then the day came when Esther had to stand up to save the Jewish people—her people—from genocide. She had no choice. Esther had to find a whole new courage, a courage she had never needed before…and never wanted to need. God called Esther to go save her people, and she rose to the challenge with courage and grace. (If you love Esther like I do, we explore her story more fully in my new book, When God Says, “Go.” In the same way you and I, when we are called to go through the challenge of infertility (or job loss or marital struggle or loneliness or fill-in-the-blank with whatever our current challenge may be) must stand up and grow strong. We must change if we want to survive.
I know this is hard to do. Oh, how I know! But just as He did for Esther, when God tells us, “Go—keep moving forward through this hard time,” He will give us strength. He will see us through.
Check out this encouraging scripture:
Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40: 28–31)
You may be weary from the struggle, weighed down with feelings and overwhelmed by fears, but when God says, “Go,” He can pick you up, dust you off, and renew your strength. What a comfort, what a gift!
Ready for the second decision? Here goes:
I believe that God still loves me and wants good for me.
So many of our dark thoughts, lonely feelings, and debilitating fears come because infertility can make us doubt God’s love for us. We wonder, Is God punishing me? Am I not getting pregnant because God is angry with me or I have sinned in some way? Does God not want me to be a mother? Maybe God doesn’t care, His promises aren’t true, and the whole faith thing is a sham.
I wrestled with every one of these thoughts during infertility, and I had to battle them with truth from Scripture. Here are two of my favorite passages:
The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:17–18)
Do you hear that? Really hear it? When we cry out, God hears us. When we are brokenhearted, He draws near. The more we hurt, the closer He leans. Let that beautiful truth sink in until you believe it, until you let God wrap His loving arms around your hurting heart.
For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.”
(Ephesians 1: 4–6, emphasis mine)
Baby or no baby, you are loved and chosen by God. Handpicked to be His! And see that line where it says “according to his pleasure and will”? That means it makes God happy to save us. He is delighted to invite us to Him, thrilled to offer His Son’s blood for our forgiveness. Even when life is hard, even when you don’t have the baby you long for, God’s love never changes. You can depend on it, draw strength from it, and cry your heart out on His loving shoulder.
My friend, I pray these scriptures comfort you. (If I had room, I’d share a hundred more.) I pray they help you find the strength you need to grow. To not just survive infertility, but to thrive in spite of it. I pray these two decisions help you find the peace and joy that come from knowing that no matter how long you walk the painful road of infertility, God still loves you. Still likes you. Still wants you to have joy in your life.
At the end of your journey, wherever it leads, I pray you look back and see that God has been with you every step. He didn’t say, “Wait for a baby,” and leave you with no hope for joy. He didn’t say, “Go and grow through hardship,” and abandon you mid-journey. I pray you see how He has helped you to meet challenge with courage, to face change with confidence. I pray you look back and see how He has made straight your paths, kept your ankles from turning (Psalm 18:36)…and held your hand every step of the way.
A veteran of infertility and more humiliating medical procedures than she cares to remember, Elizabeth Laing Thompson is the author of When God Says, “Go”: Rising to Challenge and Change without Losing Your Confidence, Your Courage, or Your Cool, and When God Says “Wait”: Navigating Life’s Detours and Delays Without Losing Your Faith, Your Friends, or Your Mind. She writes at LizzyLife.com about finding humor in holiness and hope in heartache. Elizabeth lives in North Carolina with her preacher husband and four miracle kids, and they were totally worth the wait. You can connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.