Things to do when you or a loved one is going through infertility or feels distant from God

Pain and grief come in waves. Some days you will want to be normal all day and almost forget that life is hard. Don’t be afraid of those days. Live in the light when you see it. Search for the light. But there are also some days that hit you out of nowhere with a rush sadness that knocks you off your feet, and that’s ok too. Just make sure to balance dealing with the pain and letting yourself feel those real emotions, but also looking for and living in the light. Remember that you are never alone. Even when it feels like everyone has forgotten, find someone and remind them. I wrote these lists towards the end of our infertility journey. I was finally making peace with God and peace with suffering. I may never understand the whys behind what we went through, but there was peace sometimes and that was just as good. I wrote this in May after our first failed IVF round, and in July we found out we were pregnant. I’ll give you the rest of that story another week.

Things that you can do when you feel distant or angry with God (May 2016)

  1. Let yourself be angry. Let God know how you feel. He already knows anyway, so getting it out in the open actually helps. Plus, if David can write multiple psalms about it and even Jesus can shout about it, then so can you. Psalm 13, Psalm 22, Matthew 27:46
  2. Don’t keep it to yourself. I know it hurts to talk about it and sometimes it’s embarrassing, but it really does help to have people in your corner, picking you up and checking on you. When Derek and I decided that we would not hide under this stigma that you aren’t allowed to discuss infertility it helped so much. Our rule is, if it helps or brings healing – share.
  3. Fight fear. The Bethel song “No Longer Slaves” created a huge breakthrough for both Derek and I. God is bigger than fear and sometimes you have to fight to escape it, but don’t quit trying.
  4. Be friends with the light. Derek and I still repeat this regularly as one of our mantras. Even in the darkest days, there are happy things. You may have to hunt for them, but don’t stop trying. I have had so many beautiful moments with sweet students or my soccer players or with Derek or with my friends or family in the past 2 years. I don’t get to nullify those light moments with the darkness. The darkness does not get to win. Be friends with the light.
  5. Keep praying. Even if it’s one word. Just don’t stop. Prayer beads helped me find prayer again.

Things that you can do for a loved one that is feeling distant from God or is going through a time of pain or suffering.

  1. Be normal. Tell me about you day. Tell me about the crazy person at work or the cute thing that your child did today. Tell me about how stressful work was. I really do want to know. Just because I feel sad some days doesn’t mean that I want to live in the sadness. Being able to talk about normal life with my friends and family helps me feel normal.
  2. Ask good questions. Ask me about how I’m feeling. The more specific the question, the easier it is for me to answer. Sometimes the vague ones are hard because most of the time, my emotions are all over the place. Also, ask me at a time that I can really answer. It’s hard to answer the question “How are feeling?” in passing.  But I genuinely do like sharing my thoughts and am open to answering questions. (This may not be true for all people struggling. It depends on where they are in the process and how close you are to them.)
  3. Pray for me. Pray with me. Tell me that you are praying for me, but don’t just say that you are praying for me to have a baby because in all honesty, the baby may not come. Pray for me to be filled with the spirit. Pray that I have strength. Pray for my marriage. Pray that I find joy today in my students. Pray that I find hope and purpose in helping others also fighting this battle of losing hope. Pray for peace to cover me in the hard days. Pray with me in the hard days. Pray for wisdom and understanding. And pray that I don’t quit searching for how to find God in the craziness
  4. Let me have hard days. Let me vent and be angry and cry and not feel bad about it. Be angry with me. Cry with me. Listen without trying to fix it. Derek always reminds me of when Jesus came to visit Mary and Martha after Lazarus died. Jesus doesn’t walk up and tell them that he is about to raise Lazarus from the dead, and he doesn’t tell them to wipe their eyes. Jesus cries with them. He straight up stopped in his tracks and wept. Lament is a very real and big part of Scripture. An entire genre of psalms is lament. David gets flat out angry with God. So, it really is good for me to tell God and to be able to tell you that I am really frustrated or sad or angry.
  5. Then be normal again. Let me hold your babies. It really does help me feel happier when I get to be a part of your life and your child’s life. Every now and then it’s hard to be around babies, but mostly I love the feeling of getting to shower your child with cuddles, kisses, and just that touch of a child fills this need inside of me that I can’t explain. I need to know that even though I don’t have a baby, I’m still your friend and still an important part of your life. I need to know that not having a baby doesn’t make me less of a woman.  I need to know that just because I am hurting, doesn’t mean that I don’t want to help you through your pain. Your struggles may have a lot to do with your child and that’s ok too! I still want to be a part of those conversations. Again, sometimes that may be hard, but that’s on me. More often than not, it makes me happy to get to love you through your problems just as I know that you want to love me through mine. In fact, when you try to shelter me and protect me, it makes me feel more isolated and alone.
  6. Ask my husband how he is doing. Sometimes people forget that he also lost a baby and is going through this whole crazy process just as much as I am.  Don’t just ask him how I am doing, but ask him about how he is managing the pain and pray for him just as much. People rarely ask Derek how he’s doing. Our culture handles infertility and miscarriage poorly. We handle men dealing with infertility and miscarriage even worse, or even not at all. Miscarriage and infertility hurt men just as much as women. In some ways it’s even more isolating because our culture tries to pretend like this isn’t the case.
  7. Encourage me. This one comes so naturally to so many people that love me. I have been covered with kind notes and texts and words to lift me up. Each one has been a huge help and brought smiles to my face.
  8. Learn my love language. Find out if I love quality time, words of affirmation, physical touch (hugs work), acts of kindness and service, or gifts (small treats are just as good as big ones). Not only does learning how I receive love help you connect with me more, but it also allows you the unique gift of speaking my language. Maybe you are trying to show love but are only doing things that would help you not me.

Over the next 3 weeks, I will be sharing posts about our IVF journey. I will explain why we chose to do it (hopefully Derek will also post more about the ethics of IVF), the details of what that process looked like for us, and my reflections and thoughts along the way. Thank you so much for reading and for following along with our story.

Psalm 13

For the director of music. A psalm of David.

1 How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?

How long will you hide your face from me?

2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts

and day after day have sorrow in my heart?

How long will my enemy triumph over me?

3 Look on me and answer, Lord my God.

Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,

4 and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”

and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

5 But I trust in your unfailing love;

my heart rejoices in your salvation.

6 I will sing the Lord’s praise,

for he has been good to me.

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