Category Archives: Infertility & Adoption

When the Holidays Hurt

when the holidays hurtI was talking with a friend recently, who asked me the “elephant in the room” question that burns in your mind when you go through hard times. She asked, “Will it always hurt this badly?” 

We were talking about infertility and she was delicately sharing her heart. It had been a while since I had considered where I was on the pain scale, which, in and of itself, was telling. I didn’t know God’s timeline of grief for her, but I could assure her that new norms would form and acceptance would come. God’s character would become more real to her and hope would begin to float, regardless of what the pregnancy test said.

She asked if adopting the kids made the pain go away and I told her, “yes and no”. I mean, the pain pops up out of nowhere, kind of like a jack-in-the-box, it seems. And while adoption hasn’t made it all better, God has definitely used it to bandage the wounds and temper our aches.

We talked more about how infertility can make the Holidays hurt and it made me want to rally the women I know who are walking this journey, rent a swanky Bed & Breakfast and have a giant slumber party complete with massages and mounds of chocolate. It made me want to gather women and talk into the wee hours of the morning about our disappointments and the goodness of God in the land of the living. Buuut, since we are all facing the Holidays in our perspective locations, (and since I’m still waiting on Joel to finance the whole b&b/massage idea…therefore the best I can offer is to host another Virtual Book Club…) I wanted to say, that if your arms, or your heart, or your bed, or your church pew, or your _____ are empty during this, *the most wonderful time of year*, you are not alone.

You are not alone and there is something that could maybe even be cherished in the pain…perhaps.

When the holidays hurt, (read: when your nosy great-aunt wants to know when the two of you plan to make babies…) we can pause, feel the pain we want to rush past and ask for God’s presence to be near. Because isn’t God coming near what this whole Season is about anyway? 

I’ve been thinking about Mary lately. She had impending loss hanging over her head the entire 33 years she spent raising Jesus. She knew that this child of hers would save His people, but that He would break her heart in the process. And God came near to her in her pain.

Sarah…Hannah…Anna…Elizabeth…they desperately ached for children too and God came near to each of them.

And Jesus? He knew the ache and loneliness of being without a wife and children as he ministered day after day. He drew near to the Father and God (who constantly knows what it feels like to have spiritual children who are not yet His own!!) came near to Him.

But then, when the fullness of time came, out of love for us and retribution for the sin in our hearts and the brokenness of our world, God, the Father, no longer drew near to Jesus. Instead of drawing near, God turned His holy back on Jesus. The Beloved Son who’d known nothing but perfect unity since eternity past, felt, for the first time, what it was like to be utterly rejected. Abandoned. Empty. Dare I say, barren.

And both the Father and the Son willingly signed up for the sheer torture of this, for me.

Jesus volunteered to experience and embody the depth of immortal pain so that I could find comfort, healing and hope in Him. And He completed His mission.

***Jesus has actually put an eternal end to pain.***

How then can I not find comfort this Holiday season in a great High Priest who sympathizes with my weaknesses and who sacrifices Himself to assure that, “it won’t always hurt this badly?” . 

How then can I not celebrate this Holiday season amidst suffering when I know I am partaking in His sufferings and His Word promises me that,  “it won’t always hurt this badly?” 

How then can I not rally the hurting around me and give them hope that in Jesus, “It won’t always hurt this badly?” 

Because not only do empty arms make you more sensitive. 

Empty arms make you safe.

But empty arms make you long for the Savior.

And empty arms give you a pulpit from which to tenderly preach that, “it won’t always hurt this badly.” 

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Ya’ll, let’s kiss the wave the crashes us into the Rock of Ages, together, shall we? If you’re looking for more comfort when the holidays hurt, here are a few more essays I’ve written on the topic:

And, if you’d like to join a few friends and I as we read “Infertility: Finding God’s Peace Amidst The Journey” and “Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet” this Holiday season, I’d love to invite you to buy the books, read them and attend our virtual book club in February. Please email me at kitty(dot)hurdle(at)cru(dot)org so I can add you to our private Facebook community, in the meantime.

Happiest of Holidays as we celebrate God, with us–in our joys and in our sorrows!

The Gift of Pain & Disappointment (The View From 5 Years Out)

A few weeks ago, it occurred to me that October will mark the 5th anniversary of my husband and I trying to have children. To some, five years sounds like the first 100 meters of a marathon, but to me, this mile marker seemed like a badge of honor. Almost like, if I’d made it this far, then I had a legitimate excuse to wallow.

Because, well, sometimes it feels good to feel bad.

Maybe if my pain is special and unique and if things are really hard for a sustained length of time, then certainly it means that I get a permission slip to be pitiful. As in the classic, don’t return phone calls to my mother; eat all the french fries; be offended by all the people type of pitiful.

Of course, everyone’s pain IS special and unique to the journey that God has them walking. But often I am tempted to hold on too tightly to my pain. To relish it and to keep it around when I need to feel cozy, understood and validated. Kinda like my worn out yoga pants that make me feel so known but so funky and frumpy at the same time.

There is wonderful, necessary, God-given space for grief (and grody yoga pants) in the spiritual formation of every believer, but when I dwell longer on my pain than on the Provision and Person of God, I have misplaced my trust. I can’t rush past our pain. I must let God use it to do His good work. But I have the ability to make it into some sort of messed up idol. Clutching my pain close makes me feel safe temporarily, but the reality is that it keeps me far from trusting God.infertility blog

Yeah…so, holding onto the pain was on my agenda for the entirety of my 12-minute carpool commute to drop my kids at school. (MY KIDS–the ones God gave me instead of giving me what I thought I wanted; the ones who have completely and utterly changed my views on God, life, love, calling and family; the ones I’d endure 60 more months of “no” again in an instant. Those kids.)

family pic

So, my plan was to feel sad, but it was one of the first crisp Fall mornings (which I love!) and the Holy Spirit–the Comforter–just would not let up. He kept recalling to mind all the gifts these 5 long years have held. Friends who sent flowers, wrote notes, called and cussed with me on hard days. He reminded me of the countless ministry opportunities He’d given me and He reminded me how dear HE HAD BECOME TO ME during these years. He wouldn’t let up. So much so, that as I pulled onto my street, my heart was in a place of gratitude and worship. I could honestly and emotionally thank Him for the gift of infertility. Not because He had given me what I asked for, but because His “no” had become my greatest YES. Because He had peeled my white knuckles off of the pain and in exchange, gave me the Person of Himself.

And not to go all Garth Brooks “Unanswered Prayers” on you, but isn’t there something in your life that God has consistently said “no” to, in order to give you a YES in Christ Jesus? What desire is it that He is continually using to create within you a stronger desire for Himself?

Because He is God and we are not, could we, today (and tomorrow, and the next day; when the said “gift” feels like a dagger through the soul), ask Him to give us thankful hearts–ones of humble worship–that say together with the all-sufficient, all-powerful One, “not my will, but yours be done”? Because, when I open my hands to Him, it’s all a gift.

If you are walking through infertility yourself right now, I would love to send you my favorite book on the subject, “Infertility: Finding God’s Peace On The Journey.” Email me for more information at Kitty.Hurdle@CRU.org