A Note from Chris Adams: Infertility. It’s hard to understand unless we have lived with the heartache of desiring a child and continually being disappointed. This week the topic hits really close to home since I, too, experienced infertility. I know the “everybody’s pregnant (again!)” feeling! Jenny’s journey is very similar to mine, except for the exact treatments and the outcome. The Lord chose not to give us children through birth but through adoption! And it was twins!
Today, Dr. Deb Douglas, First Baptist Church, Bossier City, LA, introduces us to Jenny and her story to help women’s ministry leaders gain compassion toward moms with aching hearts and arms. She also adds some practical ways to minister to these women. Understanding will open up new ideas of how to better minister to moms facing fertility challenges.
Groan…That’s what the Holy Spirit did for me (Romans 8:26). He groaned for me when I couldn’t conceive. Oh, the unfounded guilt you carry when your body doesn’t work. Five IUI’s (Intrauterine insemination) and three in vitros later, and no child.
He groaned for me when even my thoughts had become barren.
I was an angry wasteland of bitterness! Anxiety took over and the panic attacks began daily. The Holy Spirit groaned for me because I was all prayed out. He groaned for me when I couldn’t put my sorrow into words.
Then, something beautiful happened to my soul. I decided I wanted to live in contentment, and I put the baby on hold. I asked God to be born in me instead. I wanted the beautiful child in the manger to be my all in all. I soaked myself in the Word. I fell in love with my hobby of photography and rekindled friendships.
Most importantly, God became my favorite past time instead of thoughts of an unborn baby. I had made motherhood my mission instead of Jesus!
I still believed God would bring me a baby. My belief was HUGE, but this time around I understood it wasn’t about me, my timing, or even how I chose to conceive. It was about who God chose to bring into this world and the condition of my heart.
The rest of the story: After running out of money, on the fourth and final in vitro, Jenny gave birth to Savannah Grace on March 4, 2014.
How can a women’s ministry leader help moms like Jenny?
- Be sensitive. Asking a woman when is she going to start her family can bring much pain and hurt, alienating her instead of drawing her into a relationship. Instead, get to know women, allowing them to reveal their stories and struggles as they are comfortable doing so.
- Be prayerful. Pray for women struggling with fertility challenges. Pray with the women. Let women know you are praying for them.
- Be aware. Know what’s going on in the lives of your women. Be approachable and open. Tell your story. Whatever your story may be, it will help women feel comfortable in sharing their struggles.
- Be available. Listen. You do not have to have all the answers, just be available as a listening ear.
- Be understanding.
- The problems that go along with fertility struggles are complicated and many. Martial issues, financial ones, and self-worth issues are common.
- Fertility treatments are expensive. Be understanding when she can’t afford to participate in women’s ministry events.
- It’s a roller coaster of emotions. Sometimes, she will not feel up to being around moms. Give her some space and understanding. Check on her after events.
- Be encouraging.
- Stay away from false hope or predictions. These seem insincere and can lead to further disappointment.
- Make time to text, call, encourage, or meet with women facing the challenges.
- Be a connector. Knowing the stories of the women of your church will allow you to connect women who have lived through fertility challenges with women currently facing the daily challenge.
- Be an educator. Include breakouts focusing on fertility issues in women’s events. Have women share their stories. By doing so, women who have not struggled will be encouraged to be sensitive to women with fertility challenges.
Women with fertility challenges need to be reminded that they are not alone. God has not left them; His love has not abandoned them. They often feel judged by other moms, isolated by their pain, and without hope. Women’s ministry leaders can make a real difference in the fertility journey by being loving, accepting, and prayerful.
Jenny Connell is a hub leader for ministering to women in small groups at Coastal Church in Daphne, AL. She is a kingdom mom to her miracle child, Savannah, and wife to husband, Michael. She writes for HeartConditioning.com where she shares how God is speaking to her in the joys and trenches of motherhood, ministry, and marriage through words and photography. Most of all, she’s an Alabama girl who has fallen in love with Jesus and desires for others to experience that same grace.