Today R2M brings you a story that starts with infertility and ends with a double blessing. Karen, the proud mother of beautiful three-month-old twin girls, struggled with infertility for almost two years before getting pregnant on their 4th IVF round. Although the past few months have been a time of celebration, it was a very long and challenging road, with last October being an especially low point. I was personally encouraged by Karen’s vulnerability in her Beauty in the Brokenness blog post from that time period. I encourage you to take a few minutes to read it before reading Karen’s message (below). It’s a great reminder of how we can grow and learn some very valuable lessons in the midst of hardship. Thank you Karen for taking time out of your busy day as a new mother to share a few words of wisdom with us this Thanksgiving. – Traci
A message from Karen:
“What a roller coaster the last year and a half has been for us. After 3 failed IVF cycles and lots of episodes of ugly crying, it was at this exact time last year that we were going in for the embryo transfer for our 4th IVF attempt, which resulted in the blessing of our precious twins. The fact that it was Thanksgiving is not a fact lost on me. Sitting here, skimming through my own blog posts from those couple of months, I am reminded of the journey to get to this point and the valuable lessons we learned along the way. Lessons I don’t want to forget. We all have so much to be thankful for, despite (& through) our circumstances. So wherever you are in your own journey, I’d like to encourage you with the following thoughts.
1. You are not alone.
Whether it’s infertility, miscarriages, or another similar situation, know that you are not alone. There is a certain stigma attached to these issues which makes it difficult to be open about. It’s difficult for others to understand. But these issues are far more common than you think. I found that as soon as I started opening up about our situation, I was surrounded by others going through similar things. Others shared their journeys with me. I was able to build a community of people who could relate, who I could reach out to when I needed someone who understood. And on the flip side, I found others that I could then encourage and answer questions for, which was very redeeming for me.
2. Everyone is struggling with something.
Similarly, my journey helped me to realize that everyone around me is dealing with something – a loved one battling cancer, conflict in a marriage, chronic migraines, loneliness, unemployment… Whatever the circumstance; it didn’t matter. The person next to you on the metro, in front of you in the grocery store line, the person cutting you off in traffic. I realized that I was “putting on my happy face” in public. How many others were doing the same? It opened me up to a new perspective and level of empathy that I hadn’t realized before. And I decided that one simple thing I could do was to choose joy and try to spread it to others. It might be the smile that someone needs to help them get through their own day.
3. God often uses our most challenging circumstances to grow us the most significantly.
This is probably the most important, but also hardest, to see while we’re in the midst of personal crisis. Easier with hindsight… After hitting a real low last October, God did something awesome with my November. Using various books, conversations, blogs, many desperate prayers, etc., He drew me in closer to Him than I had maybe ever been. I realized that He had to take me to a place of brokenness to really start to find a hunger for Him. To find a new dimension of Him that I wouldn’t have known otherwise. In that month, before our successful IVF round (which is very important to call out), I found myself giving thanks to God despite, within and because of my circumstances. I began to praise Him for bringing me through that time of sorrow, because it brought me to this place with Him that I wouldn’t know otherwise. So I encourage you, in your places and seasons of brokenness, lean into and discover the Abba Father who wants us to climb into His lap and bring everything to Him – our hurts, our wants, our questions, our cries for healing and peace. It really is a sweet place to be – it’s the beauty in our brokenness.”
Photograph provided by: Lou Lou Photography