Infertility is like a starving monster sometimes. It just eats and eats and eats, leaving heartbreak and sorrow in its wake.
But it doesn’t have to.
There is always grace for those struggling through fresh sorrow. It really is okay to mourn the holiday season. It’s okay to just take a year or two off.
But what if you’re tired of infertility stealing your holiday joy?
I’ve been there. And slowly, but surely, I fought my way into loving the season again. Even when, year after year, it arrived without the babies my heart longed for.
I learned three secrets to loving the holidays again. Three secrets that aren’t so much secrets as disciplines. Three things that I made myself do, even when I didn’t want to.
I pray they are helpful to you as well.
Discipline #1: Focused worship.
Christmas means lots of things to a lot of people. Some Christians celebrate it with gusto, others don’t, but no matter how you look at it, the end of the year is the perfect time to refocus on Jesus.
Taking the month of December to return to The Story again, whether with an advent devotional like, The Greatest Gift or a simple Advent Calendar like Who is Jesus?, is a great way to return to focused worship.
The reminder of who Jesus is, and why He deserves our praise and worship, is the perfect balm to an aching heart. If anyone understands loss, it’s the God who created mankind and then was rejected.
Sorrow isn’t the end of The Story, but it is part of the story. And no one understands that like God Himself.
Discipline #2: Ask what you would have done without infertility, then do it.
I was feeding the chickens the one day and I saw the sleds in the corner of the milk house. It was snowy outside, the perfect morning to go sledding down our long sloping hill. But why would I do that? I was tired.
Sorrow just makes you so exhausted.
But I was also so tired of missing things because I didn’t have children.
So I called my husband and asked him to go sledding with me. It was hilarious and fun. We went and cut a tree later that day, laughing and making hot cocoa as we decorated it.
We made memories, even without children. Family isn’t confined to people with children and as I started doing the things I longed to do– I found there was still joy to be found in the holidays.
Discipline #3: Acknowledge sorrow when it comes.
Yes, acknowledging sorrow is part of how I learned to find more joy.
For way too long, I tried to bury sorrow in an attempt to be joyful. Instead, I ended up crying inside and being fake outside. It was miserable.
I knew I had to start being real about my sadness.
The next time we visited my brother’s family his daughters met us at the door with inside-out pajamas on. “Mama says if we wear our pajamas inside-out to bed then it might snow tonight,” they explained.
And my heart hurt so bad because I had no idea if I would ever have children to do magical Christmas traditions with.
So I cried.
Not dramatic sobs, of course. But tears that slid down my cheeks and a few moments in the bathroom to compose myself while acknowledging that THIS WAS HARD.
When my husband and I left later that night, there were huge snowflakes falling and the world was still and beautiful.
He looked at me and winked. “Must be something in that inside-out pajama thing,” he said.
And we laughed.
And there was so much joy in that crisp snowy night.
Acknowledging sadness doesn’t take away joy, it just frees us to celebrate the joy more fully.
No matter what, I pray you will remember that God is with you.
His presence WITH us is the hope of Christianity. So no matter how sorrow-filled, how lovely, how broken, or how breathtaking your holiday season is: Jesus came to display His ability to go to all the places right beside us.
What disciplines or secrets have you discovered to bring joy back into your holiday season despite the difficult things in your life?