Friday, 1 March 2019

Community brings Courage

I have written about friendships and community pretty regularly on my blog and I’m writing about it again today as I feel it is so important in the discussion of infertility and generally in challenges people face.

One of the main words I would use to describe infertility is ‘lonely’. There were dark times I felt completely alone, that no one understood me, not my friends, nor my family and not even God! Thankfully those days were few and far between and I’m a sure that finding a community to share with has certainly helped with that. 

When we first started trying to start our family, pregnancy announcements and photos of happy new families didn’t really bother me too much, but as time went on it took more and more effort to be happy for others when they received what I desire. 

As the sorrow continued to wash over me, in honesty, my heart became harder. In self preservation, for my physical and mental health, I started cutting myself off from those around me who were starting their own families. As I distanced myself from them, I found myself more and more lonely, I couldn’t find anywhere that I really fit in. 

Through this time I had a handful of wonderful friends who were sensitive, empathetic and generally gorgeous but it was a struggle to find those who truly understood what I was going through. 

On the outside life went on as usual, but underneath I felt much like David in psalm 142 

 1-2 I cry out loudly to God,
    loudly I plead with God for mercy.
I spill out all my complaints before him,
    and spell out my troubles in detail:

3-7 “As I sink in despair, my spirit ebbing away,
    you know how I’m feeling,
Know the danger I’m in,
    the traps hidden in my path.
Look right, look left—
    there’s not a soul who cares what happens!

I’m up against it, with no exit—
    bereft, left alone.
Oh listen, please listen;
    I’ve never been this low.
Rescue me from those who are hunting me down;

    I’m no match for them.
Get me out of this dungeon
    so I can thank you in public.
Your people will form a circle around me
    and you’ll bring me showers of blessings 

After a while of wallowing, I decided to try and seek out a community that understood and with whom I could share. It was at this point that my journey completely changed. I joined some online groups, took the leap to become prayer partners with other ladies in similar situations and started listening to some amazing podcasts. 

I started making friends with other women who were walking the same path and who knew how  I was feeling through the ups and downs of life. Proverbs 27:9-10 says:

‘Sweet friendships refresh the soul and awaken our hearts with joy, for good friends are like the anointing oil that yields the fragrant incense of God’s presence.’ 

As I found community with people around me, this was exactly what happened. My soul felt refreshed and my heart became joyful again. As I took small steps in reaching out I felt myself able to have hope again and as I became stronger I listened to God and started to share my story. 

If you have ever read any of my blog posts you will know that there are three groups that provided me with a community of women both here and abroad, and I never like to miss an opportunity to sing their praises.

Sarah’s laughter podcasts was like having a best friend and a counsellor in my room talking truth over me. This podcast played a big part in God talking to me about adoption. There are some amazing stories and I would recommend it for anyone who is journeying through infertility or someone who wants to understand what their friend or family member is going through. You can take a look at the podcasts here: Sarah's laughter

Moms in the making group has been a real life line for me. They have a great Facebook group which is really supportive. The leader of this ministry Caroline Harris is not only talking the talk but is walking the walk too and is always full of encouragement. Through this ministry I have had some awesome prayer partners who are now friends for life and was part of an amazing online support group. It meant waking up at 1am to take part in the group (it is a US based group) but it was so worth it and it really helped me stay focused through a difficult time. You can get all the information about this lifeline of a ministry here: Moms in the making

Saltwater and honey are an amazing uk based ministry which completely changed the way I viewed my life, my infertility and my ministry. They have an amazing blog with real down-to-earth help and advice. They have also run Mother’s Day runaway services which have been truly special and spirit-
filled. I have also had the joy of attending two retreats with them which were jam packed with food, laughter, teaching and truth. I really cannot recommend them enough! Plus the saltwater and honey team introduced me to Brene Brown which I will forever be grateful for!! You can take a look at their website here: Saltwater and Honey

Community made all the difference in my life and once I had gain the courage, through community, to share my story I found that I really wasn’t alone. I discovered that not only was God there with me, but there was also a tribe of people cheering me on and supporting me in prayer. I also found that I had many gracious friends who I had distanced myself from, reach out and explain that they understood, they cared and that they still wanted to be my friend. This meant so much and I knew not all my bridges had been burned. 

So my advice to you today in whatever you are going through is seek out community. Your local church can be a wonderful place for this or it may be by finding community with a group of people going through a similar situation. If you are feeling on your own cry out to God as he is always with you and be brave in stepping out to find community. If you are not going through a difficult situation but have a friend who is, my advice would be to love the, love them even if they push you away and Continue to show love to them until they start to feel like the self again. As Galatians 6:2 says:

‘Love empowers us to fulfil the law of the anointed one as we carry each other’s troubles’