In the previous post, I tried to help you through comfort. I wanted you to believe that (1) You are not alone; many others are suffering from this same problem; (2) that it was not your fault; even if your doctors can pinpoint a particular problem; and (3) that God can deliver you from childlessness just as He has delivered many others in the past. Today I would like to encourage you to go a bit further. But I only want you to go here if you are ready. If the first post seemed overwhelming, read it again and the passages referenced. But if you are ready, let me encourage you to take the next step. The next step will not relieve the pain, but it will give you joy in the midst of it.
The subject is to steward your infertility. I would like to share a few ways to steward it well.
#1. Your Identity is not “INFERTILE” it is “I AM UNITED WITH CHRIST”
Your identity, who you are, is not defined by your infertility. Repeat that to yourself as many times as it takes to believe it. You are united with Christ, you are a new creation, and you are a prized possession of the Lord Jesus. That is who you are!
In our church we have a ministry both to couples without children and couples with children. Those lines are blurry because some couples wish to stay with their friends even after having a baby, but the real challenge comes for those who want a child and do not have one. In one sense, they feel like they are disqualified from being a “family” because they do not have kids. That can sometimes reinforce the mentality that instead of a scarlet letter sown on their clothes, they have the word “infertile” tied to their name – in other words, it is part of their identity. Churches, admittedly, have a difficult time managing all of these challenges. It is hard to decide whether a church should use a term like “family” knowing that it communicates well to most people, but can cause a hurt for others. This challenge is one of the reasons I am talking to you.
Find your identity in the one who died for you. Find your identity in the one who is preparing a place for you. Find your identity in the one who is coming again for you.
#2. Be a willing tool in the hand of your creator to use your time and talents effectively.
All of us, with children or without, are tools in the hands of our mighty creator. We were made to please and glorify God; God was not made to please and glorify us. Infertility is not just a curse, it is an opportunity. It is an opportunity to use your time, skills, and financial resources to further the cause the Christ. I realize that you would prefer to further the cause of Christ by using your time and resources to help your children, but at this point in the process that is not what God has for you. Here are some of the ways that your time and resources could be used:
- Start a ministry where other couples struggling with infertility have a safe place to share their struggles and where they can be encouraged to live faithful lives to Jesus.
- Have two jobs where you are able to give unusual amounts because you don’t have the responsibility to save for braces, fixing broken arms, a wedding, or helping them get off to a good start by helping them with college.
- Serve additional hours in some kind of church ministry because you are not organizing baths, bedtimes, or helping them with homework.
I realize that these things are sometimes hard to hear because you want to save for braces, fix broken arms, plan a wedding, do homework, and all the other stuff that comes with parenting. But let me encourage you that right at this moment God wants you to steward the opportunities you have rather than focus on opportunities you do not have.
#3. Talk regularly as a couple and be united together
Infertility has a way of driving couples apart. Each one responds to the struggle a bit differently and many times each one does so silently. After a few years, the slow drift apart can become a problem large enough to put the relationship in danger. So let me encourage you to regularly communicate your thoughts and emotions with each other. Be a team together. Allow each other to hurt, but also comfort one another in those hurts. You will surely have many decisions that you have to make about issues like adoption and infertility treatment (we will have additional posts on those things in the near future), but one of the important matters is to make those decisions as a team. Husbands, you are commanded to love your wives (Ephesians 5:25) and to live with them according to knowledge (1 Peter 3:7). Your willingness to do these commands of Scripture in the midst of infertility will be a crucial component to your overall relationship.
Maybe you could be of help to other couples struggling with infertility by sharing some of the ways that you have been able to steward this difficult time in your life.