Today’s guest blogger author and speaker Stacy Fulton and I share the experience of infertility. She shares thoughts with leaders about how best to minister to women facing this crisis.
Every since the day I felt God called me into ministry, I have had a passion to minister to women. I never knew exactly what it would look like fully, but just knew my heart was drawn there. It wasn’t until my husband and I walked through the pain and hurt of years of infertility that I began to realize a specific area God was calling me to.
If you’ve ever walked through the darkness of infertility, then you know how painful it is to a woman who has been told those dreaded words, “You’ll never have a child.” Everything is a reminder of what she’ll never have. I remember those days so well – the days where every time you turn around you see a mom with a new baby. The baby dedications at church, the Mothers/Fathers Day events, the baby showers – and the list goes on. You feel completely alone, you feel inadequate, you feel unable to connect with other women, you feel overwhelmed by bitterness. You find yourself viewing the world through a broken heart, trying to make sense of anything. Especially God.
I sank into such a deep pit of depression. I was angry at God, I was angry at every woman who was getting pregnant, and I was angry at myself because I couldn’t. I found myself in a deep, black hole, and nobody really knew what to do with me. Friends were gracious, don’t get me wrong, but they didn’t know how to help me through this particular grief. I was desperate to find hope in the midst of the pain. My life became defined by my circumstances. And every woman dealing with infertility faces these same struggles.
Infertility can be all consuming. It takes over every part of a woman’s life. Every month she waits with eager anticipation to see if this is “the” month, only to have her hopes dashed by another resounding NO. It may cause a woman to withdraw from family and friends. It may cause her to withdraw from church and social functions. Her personality may change completely because she becomes so inwardly focused on what is going on in her body. Everywhere she turns there are reminders of what she doesn’t have, and can never have. Regardless of where each woman is at, the bottom line is that they are in the midst of one of the messiest, most heartbreaking valleys of their life. They need to know someone understands what they feel, what they think, and what they are going through. They need to know that there is a way to climb out of the pit, but even more so, they need to know there are people extending their arms to help pull them out.
That’s where we come in. We become the arms of Christ extended down into the depths of where they are. We love them through their most painful days. We acknowledge that certain days are harder than others. We acknowledge that they are grieving a loss – a death – and we walk it out with them. We pray for them. We let them tell us their stories and we grieve with them. However, the greatest thing we can do is point them to Christ. We don’t let them stay where they are. By sharing our personal stories of how we walked through a painful journey and came out on the other side, it brings hope that maybe, just maybe, they can too.
So, what can you do practically to help women going through this struggle?
Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Specifically, ask them to tell you their story (if they feel comfortable), and don’t try to offer a solution. Just be a listening ear with a caring heart.
Acknowledge their pain.
Never diminish or make light of what they’re going through.
Don’t offer empty words of advice.
Stay away from the dreaded cliches – ex…”Just relax”, “Why don’t you just adopt?”
Ask them how you can pray for them and commit to doing it.
Be an encourager..
Offer encouragement to them on certain days that are the most painful by sending cards, texts, emails, phone calls, etc… (Mothers/Fathers Day, baby dedications at church, baby showers, etc..)
A woman needs to feel like someone is with her on those days.
These are just some basic things that you can do. I’ll be honest, infertility is just messy. Some days will require you to put on your mud boots and wade through the dirty, murky waters with them. Emotions will be a wreck, life will be crazy, but offering them grace through it will mean more than you could ever know.
For me personally, God began to show me truths along the way that changed my heart. I realized that, like Joseph, the dreams I had were not being fulfilled the way I thought they would, but God was doing things through the journey that was preparing me for something more. He began to change my perspective through deep and intimate worship with Him, until there came a point where my desire for a child paled in comparison to the desire to know Him and to have more of Him than anything else. He had healed my heart along the way. I had delighted myself in Him, and He had indeed given me my heart’s desire.
We all have a story, and everyone’s story is different. Where one woman’s story may be infertility, another woman’s story may be divorce, or death, or financial loss. The point is, our stories consist of heartbreak and disappointments, of pain and hurt, and the only way any of us walk through the dark valleys is by clinging tightly to the hand of God. We have to realize that the God we cling to is bigger than what we face, and when we change our perspectives and make Him bigger in our eyes than what we are going through, it takes us to new heights, and we perceive our current struggles much differently. Like anyone dealing with pain and grief, infertile women just need to have their heads lifted so they can look up and see where their help comes from – their help comes from the Lord. (Psalm 121:1,2)