Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Response

My good friend Jennifer, forwarded an article to me the other day, asking me what I thought. I decided to take it a step farther and blog my thoughts.

The article is How The Church Makes Infertility Better (Or Worse)

As you all know, I have lots of thoughts on infertility. So I'm going to keep my reflection to sections that line up with the four sections of the article.

I need to preface with this: These are just my opinions....opinions that have been shaped from my personal experience with infertility and secondary infertility. I know that I look at infertility differently then others who battle it. I have an "open-book" personality that assists in my outlook.

1. I wholeheartedly agree that infertility is a bigger deal then most people think. If you are a fertile woman, you need to be very careful how you speak about "getting pregnant" in public settings. You don't know who you might be offending. Even with just a simple comment such as "and we weren't even trying to get pregnant!" Yes, while that is true for so many, it might not be true for someone standing in that same social circle. And sadly, that 'simple comment' becomes a haunting voice that takes days for her to forget. It's not your fault that you were able to get pregnant with no effort...just like it's not her fault that she can't get pregnant with much effort.

I do not agree with the author's thoughts on infertility being something we can't talk about at church because fertility is bound up in issues with sex and intimacy - therefore making it embarrassing to talk about. I could not disagree more. I have friends who battle infertility and have met many couples who struggle with it - never once have I heard anyone say they were embarrassed because it shun light on their issues with sex and intimacy...

It's painful. That's why it's hard to talk about. It aches in such deep dark valleys of our hearts that unless we are speaking to someone with true experience on the topic, we try not to bring it up. The painful truth is that when talking to someone who "doesn't know", we're opening the door to be hurt.

Fertility treatments are expensive and wreak havoc on your fiances. That's not new news. It sucks.

2. Battling with infertility is going to cause strain in friendships and relationships. There is no way of hiding from that. People will shock you with the things they say. Friends, to no fault of their own, will deeply hurt your feelings. You will find yourself distancing yourself from people and justifying it with "they just don't get it" and "they will say something hurtful".

I will admit that some of that is by our own doing - as the author of the article also says.

We get hurt and want to protect ourselves. That's human nature. But in most cases, we are a victim of someone's attempt to help and support. We need to be thankful for that. We need to fight our natural tendencies. It's a 2-way street. Advise givers need to be very sensitive and mindful of their words. Advise takers need to be understanding that our reality is different from their reality. Hard to do. But needs to be done for the sake of friendships.

One of my favorite paragraphs from the article is:

"If you know people in your church who are dealing with infertility, be prepared to sympathize when the topic comes up, but you can do so much to encourage them simply by being a friend. Make a point of getting to know them, spending time with them, and encouraging them spiritually in the ordinary course of life. Sometimes when infertile couples are in the throes of feeling isolated and desperate to be normal, they just need you to be a friend, to remind them that they are normal, that you like them, and that you want to live the Christian life side-by-side with them."

AMEN!! My infertility is not the only thing I know to talk about or even want to talk about. I am so appreciative when a friend asks me about our struggle, hear me when I say that. But I am also thrilled when a friend wants to talk to me about something else going on in my life. Treating me with the normal "rules of friendship" helps the relationship flow as it should. And to take it even a further step, I love love love when a friend allows me to be there for them in a hardship they are walking through. Friendship is give and take. And I love both giving and taking. Battling infertility does not mean I can't handle whatever mess my friend wants to share with me. On the contrary, my trials motivate me to jump in the deep end hand-in-hand with my friend through whatever pool, pond, lake or even ocean she is swimming in.

3. I recently blogged about a friend that asked how she could pray for me and it opened a safe platform for me to confess my anger at God and my anger at the words spoken to me in ways that seemed insensitive to me. You can read that here: Take Two

There is a great line in the article where the writer says "cultivate the kind of open, honest relationship that makes your friendship a safe space for them to vent their pain, confess their sins, and ask for accountability and prayer. Take the lead by being willing to confess your own sins and make yourself vulnerable"

Isn't that the recipe for deep maturing christian friendships - whether battling infertility or not, this should be the way we approach those relationships God has placed in our life. Who cares what a person is struggling with - this is the type of friend we are called to be as followers of Christ. There is no need to "set aside" this type of approach for only when we believe we see sin in someone's life. This should be a daily approach. Period.

4.For me, my days of battling infertility have been days that I have felt God's presence in magnificent ways. I'm not saying I have handled it perfectly, but I really work at embracing where He has me. I agree with the author about coming to new understandings about how our trials are meant for good. 

When we were going thru treatment the first time, I recall an emotional breakdown I had in October of 2010. Our 6th round of treatment had failed and we were being refereed to a new doctor for further treatment. For me, swallowing the pill of  hearing my doctor say "there's nothing else I can do but I would like to refer you on" was much harder then I thought it would be. But in the days following this news, I felt deep strength and security in God's unfailing faithfulness in my life. I felt that He was working so passionately on my heart. I truly made peace with that ALL THINGS come from Him. 

These days, I can barely get through a hymn or a sermon without tearing up. I have no doubt it's because God saw fit to walk me thru the trial of infertility and beautifully taught me things about Himself I would otherwise not know. And for that, I am so grateful.

As 2013 comes to an end and we are again 7 months into the dark deep valleys of infertility, knowing that our next step is more then we've seen yet, I am hopeful. Not only hopeful that the Lord will bless us with another child but more importantly hopeful that God is working on my heart again. I'm humbled that he challenges me daily thru this trial. I'm again grateful to me reminded that I am oh-so-small and he is oh-so-big! I'm thankful for the ways he teaches me.


Jeff Cavanaugh said...

Thanks for taking the time to interact, Missy. I appreciate hearing your thoughts.