when mother’s day is painful

I confess that I’m anticipating Mother’s Day this year with hesitation, with anxiety, with sadness.

I don’t share this as a melodramatic cry for attention.
It’s a sweet day, and I do want to honor my mother, because she’s incredible.

But when you yourself long to be a mother, and you observe young families all around you, it feels like an isolating holiday. What about those who want to be mothers but who, for one reason or another, aren’t yet?

The ones who are recovering from a miscarriage.
The ones who don’t have answers, despite tests and medical procedures.
The ones who are waiting for a call from the adoption agency.
The women who are longing not just for a baby, but for a husband.

So I share these thoughts for them.

Mother’s Day is just another day, and we who are in this place know that. But it’s also a tangible reminder of an unanswered prayer, one that pushes me to the feet of Christ asking for grace to endure what I do not understand but want to trust that He does.

On Mother’s Day, it’s not that I want to spend the whole day wallowing in self-pity, or hiding under the covers, as if that helps me hide from life. I want to genuinely celebrate with those who will, most likely, announce their own pregnancies on this day. It’s timely, and I get that. I also get how much of a miracle a healthy pregnancy actually is. I want to affirm my mom for what she has meant to me. I want to affirm my friends who are moms as they walk the tiring road of motherhood – I get that it’s hard, and it often comes without thanks.

But I also want to take a moment and allow grief to have its place. I want to encourage other women I know who are also walking the path of infertility – you are not alone. There may be days where it seems like it, and you may have to wrestle with the feelings of being left behind, but you can rest assured that there are many other women out there who “get it.” 1 in 8 women struggle with infertility for one reason or another.

It’s okay to feel sad on this day.

It’s okay to find yourself falling to pieces from the little things: the baby dedication at church, the greeting card aisle, the Instagram pictures of happy little families all snuggled together. Allow yourself to fully absorb and process why those things upset you.

Just don’t stay in that place.

I have learned that it’s one thing to acknowledge and experience grief, but it’s another to let it take over your life and define your circumstances instead of allowing God to define your circumstances.

Isaiah 38:17 says, “Behold, it was for my welfare that I had great bitterness; but in love you have delivered my life from the pit of destruction, for you have cast all my sins behind your back” (ESV).

The NIV translates it this way: “Surely it was for my benefit that I suffered such anguish. In your love you kept me from the pit of destruction; you have put all my sins behind your back.”

What would it take to be able to say that? What do you need to believe is true about God in order to see a season of pain and sadness as for your benefit?

And while I don’t want to end this with a band-aid statement about how God works everything out for good, I want to encourage you – just as I am encouraging myself – that our God is purposeful and loving. He can create beautiful things out of what the world discards as worthless, and His perspective is more complete than what we are able see in front of us. He is present even in the midst of pain.

There’s also a sweet blessing in allowing others to walk with you through the struggle – finding friends you can be real with on your hard days, friends who will tell you that you are loved and valued for who you are, friends who will remind you that you aren’t waiting for a baby to complete you. I am so thankful for the women who have been strength and love for me on days when I feel like I am falling apart. Don’t carry the weight of infertility alone.

Happy Mother’s Day to the women who long to be mothers. May you know God’s peace and presence in a tangible way as you trust Him in the midst of uncertainty.

 

P.S. If you have a friend walking through infertility but don’t know how to encourage her (or him!), here are some ideas.

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