2017: To Those Who Wait6
by Mary Grace Conrad
It’s that time of year again. The holiday season is over. A new year is beginning. People are making resolutions to do this or that – to get a fresh start. Whether it’s eating healthier, exercising more, saving money, or getting organized… all we really want is to have better control of our lives and of our happiness. Each January we think, “How can I make this year better than the last?”
But how do you approach the New Year if you’re still in the same place you were last year? If, despite your many efforts, you didn’t reach certain goals or obtain what you wanted? For me, as another year passes, I can’t help but realize that I’m still childless. No matter how many doctor visits I made, ultrasounds endured, or Clomid pills I took, here I am wondering what I need to do to have a baby. Maybe this is you, too. Maybe you’re waiting on a baby like me, or waiting on a husband/wife, waiting on a prodigal child to return, or waiting for healing. You too have exhausted all efforts to gain what your heart longs for, but another year passes and here you are – still waiting.
For those in waiting, I’d like to offer some ways to make year 2017 easier. And by no means am I saying that I am an expert on waiting. I am still learning to wait well, and I still have emotional breakdowns on the reg, but I have learned a few things that have helped this journey become a little easier. These are practical things you can do every day to keep yourself mentally in check. Because if you’ve ever been through a waiting season, you know it can be an exhausting, emotional roller coaster. So without further ado, here is my list of waiting tips.
- Don’t set timelines. Now this is hard, because we all like to plan and set specific dates or times for when we want to reach certain goals. But if you are waiting on something, this can set you up for some unnecessary heartache! I remember last Christmas, my family was admiring a new baby cousin. I thought to myself, “This time next year, I’ll be pregnant or even have my own little baby.” Well spoiler alert, I’m not pregnant and I don’t have a baby! And it was kind of a slap in the face this year. I felt like I had failed. But I’m getting better at accepting that GOD is in control, and He will bless me how He chooses in His own time. If I put time limits on Him, I’m missing opportunities to grow my faith. He sees the big picture, not me.
- Live your wait day by day. This is similar to the previous point. Don’t look too far into the future. Instead, get through each day one at a time. This is an example of what happens when I let my mind wander off into the future:
“What if it takes 5 years to get pregnant? 10 years?”
“What if I have to do in vitro, or if I have to adopt?”
“What if my adopted kids don’t love me?”
““What if I NEVER have kids?”
You see? Totally exhausting. I can never get through this wait with a mindset like that. Instead, God teaches us that he gives us enough strength for each day. Lamentations 3:22-23 says, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness.” Let me repeat that—His mercies are new each morning. So I ask myself, “Can I get through this day without a baby? Can I go just one more day without being pregnant?” The answer is yes. With God’s mercy, one day at a time, I can get through it. So with God’s help, I try to stay present in the day. I focus on what I have today. I don’t look at what I might not have 5 years from now.
- Read books about waiting. This has been a HUGE help for me. See the previous point I made? I read that in the book, Seasons of Waiting, by Betsy Childs Howard. Of course, these books shouldn’t replace the Bible and God’s word. But when you want to gain insight and learn from people who have waited, it helps to read from Christian authors. These are a few books I recommend for anyone who’s waiting:
Seasons of Waiting: Walking by Faith When Dreams Are Delayed, by Betsy Childs Howard
Wait and See: Finding Peace in God’s Pauses and Plans, by Wendy Pope
The Ache for a Child, by Debra Bridewell
Anchored in Hope: Devotionals for Infertility, by Ali Forest
- Talk to someone who personally understands your struggle. There are all different kinds of waiting, and some are easier to talk about than others. Infertility is a more personal, intimate wait that makes a lot of people uncomfortable. Some women keep it private; others are more open. Personally, I like it all out in the open. If you want details, ask me! If you want to know about certain fertility treatments, ask me! If you want to know how you can specifically pray for me, ask me! Thankfully, I know a ton of women who have gone through infertility battles themselves. People in my church, in my family, and co-workers. It just feels good to go to that person and say, “Hey, this really sucks, will you pray for me,” and they are able to listen and share their own story with you. So if you haven’t shared your struggle with anyone yet, I urge you to find someone you can talk with honestly; someone you can cry to and they know exactly what you’re feeling. You don’t have to write blog posts about it, but please don’t keep it all to yourself. In 2 Corinthians 1:11, Paul wants many to join in praying for him so that God will get more glory. Paul knows that sharing suffering and allowing others to bear your burdens will give God glory. In sharing my story of infertility, no matter the outcome, I want others to see God’s faithfulness, strength, and hope.
- Keep a journal. When I started my fertility treatments, I also started a journal. In this journal is each doctor appointment, test results, and other details. I also write down bible verses, quotes, song lyrics, and articles I read from Christian authors. It’s my collection of hopeful words and passages that help me get through weak moments. When I’m feeling discouraged, I flip through my journal and I am reminded of all the times God was there for me.
- Serve others. After binge-watching Gilmore Girls on Netflix, wallowing in my sadness, I remember telling Alec, “I really need to find a hobby.” I recently got back into art, and it has been a great way to keep myself busy and less focused on infertility. (The money I make doesn’t hurt either). It feels good to bless others with paintings and drawings of things and people they love. I love using a talent that God so graciously blessed me with. Sometimes I look at a piece of artwork and just say, “Thank you, Lord. Thank you for this.” God has given all of us unique talents, skills, and abilities. And each one of us should use whatever he has given us to serve others (1 Peter 4:10). Maybe you can cook, sing, teach, write, or encourage. No matter how insignificant you may think it is, God gave us special gifts to ultimately glorify Himself. And while you are in a waiting period, I encourage you to put those gifts and abilities to use. Turn it into a hobby. I know I feel more blessed in life if I am able to help bless others. I become less focused on myself and more focused on others.
So for all who are waiting, and those who love someone who’s waiting, I hope these words of encouragement help you get through the New Year. Find peace in the fact that God is in control of our lives. No matter what you are waiting for, God knows what we need. His perspective is eternal. He will give us what is best for us in His own time. I pray that this wait helps us cling to Him rather than cling to our desired outcome. Remember that God loves us, He is for us, and we can absolutely trust Him with all of our hearts. Happy New Year!
“We put our hope in the Lord. He is our help and our shield. In Him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in His holy name. Let Your unfailing love surround us, Lord, for our hope is in You alone.” Psalm 33: 20-22