To Mamas and Their Infertile Friends:
If 1 in 8 (or 7) women has infertility that means that the vast majority of women are not infertile. NEWSFLASH: that number is increasing as years go by and that’s freaking scary. I’ll be here lathering my essential oils, homemade deodorant, and wool dryer balls. That means that those of you reading this are more likely fertile than infertile. Women walking through infertility long to be understood, just like every other human. It is a unique pain and longing that is difficult to describe, let alone understand if you haven’t walked through it. But still, we want our mom friends to know! We think if you knew the pain you’d be able to support us and hopefully maintain a close friendship with us. All too often this misunderstood pain results in anger, bitterness (on both sides), and a disconnected friendship, all because of lack of understanding.
I hope as fertile women read this you gain greater empathy and insight into your friend’s pain. And I hope as infertile women read this that you understand better why you’re feeling what you’re feeling, where to direct your pain, and how to thrive in this difficult season. What I’ve written below comes mostly from watching my fertile friends walk through this so well with me, and the hard lessons I learned of not walking through infertility well. Nothing will humble you more than not being able to make humans and then having to apologize for how you acted in the meantime.
“The secret is Christ in me, not me in a different set of circumstances.”Elisabeth Elliot
No one wants to be a victim, especially at the hand of God. Although, when God has withheld children it is easy to feel victimized in His plan. It is not your job to point out that we’re making ourselves a victim, that job is reserved for the Holy Spirit. We are going to do this so wrong, trust that the Holy Spirit is moving and working in your friend. Your friend will likely say things out loud that you wouldn’t dare believe, let alone say to someone. Instead of thinking she’s abandoning her faith, consider she may be experiencing a type of pain you’ve not walked through. Her pain isn’t greater or lesser than yours, just different. If you see anger in your friend, she’s angry at God-whether she realizes it or not. She may redirect that anger to other people such as yourself or others. But God is slowly showing her she’s upset with what He has allowed in her life; it takes a long time to realize there’s anger. You may start to see bitterness develop and your friend may think there is no other way to walk through this season. I’d encourage you to keep pursuing time with her, find out if she wants to spend time with your family (she likely does but I don’t want to speak for everyone), do not cease praying for God to open her womb, and make effort to love her dog like she does. Invite her into your parenting and caring for your children. Find little ways to affirm she will be a great mama. One of the greatest blessings you can give your friend is believing with her that she will be a mama someday.
Now to you, currently infertile one. I’ve just gotten your friend off the hook of being your personal Holy Spirit. That means you have a big, big job ahead of you. You cannot stop studying God’s word and talking with Him in prayer. You cannot stop getting together with friends, especially friends with budding families. You cannot let anger take root in your heart. Every single day, root it out or it will change you for the worse. You are not a victim of God’s divine plan or an overlooked child in His kingdom. You have to believe what we’re told in His word, there is joy in His presence, He answers when we call to Him, He cares for us, we are dearly loved children! In your doubt and difficulty, be ready to answer with truth from God’s word. As it becomes increasingly difficult to be around your friends and their babies, fight that feeling. Ask about their pregnancies, ask how they’re feeling, ask about their children’s milestones, ask about the great difficulty they’re walking through in parenting. If anger and bitterness creep in, fight it, take your complaints to God, remember your friend is trying to love you the best way possible. Don’t allow cynicism one second in your life. That will push your friends away and you need your friends, both mom friends and not, in this season more than you ever will.
“To be forgiven is such sweetness that honey is tasteless in comparison with it. But yet there is one thing sweeter still, and that is to forgive.”
Don’t excuse your friend if she is in sin against you. Find time to sit face to face with her and share if you’ve been hurt by her (try to catch her in her luteal phase if at all possible-I’m serious). It is not the time to point out ways she is walking through infertility poorly, it’s best to lovingly share your hurt. Dig deep to see if you may have hurt her, or ask her. Trust the Holy Spirit in your friend! Her problems won’t tie up with a nice bow, it may take years. Be faithful to God, love your friend well, and don’t stop praying for her future children.
Do not be angry with your friends for having families. Don’t be angry that they’re planning their family as normal (fertile) people do. Don’t be angry with the ease that God has gifted them in conception. Rather, focus on God. God is not walking you through this just to teach you a hard lesson. However, He is walking you through this and has hard lessons to teach you. Don’t miss them. I promise, if you miss the lessons anger, jealousy, and bitterness have taken up their homes in your heart and relationships will be in ruins for years to come. He is faithful to restore what the locusts eat away, but that is a more difficult journey.
Mama and Infertile Friend, we both have great difficulties. We need each other. If we can make it through this, we can make it through anything, and God has gotten great great glory.