So to wrap up my series, I wanted to have a few friends guest post on something they have experienced, learned or think others should know as they’ve walked this road with me. Today we are honored to have my dear friend Curry share:
I have learned the hard way that bearing one another’s burdens is not always equal to sharing in each other’s joys. In Galatians 6:2 we are taught to “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” This verse speaks of loving your neighbor as yourself. I want to challenge you to love them well, carrying your friend’s burden without expectations.
I have a 13 month old named John. Finding out we were pregnant was joyful, but it added an element of sorrow when you know this reality might cause your friend pain. When we told Jackie we were pregnant I knew not to expect an excited reaction. We told her and Bryan very early so they had time to process before it was public knowledge.
Although Jackie rejoiced that Jesus gave us a child, my expectations were correct in her lack of excitement. What I didn’t know to expect was the silence in our relationship that followed. I didn’t get her usual texts and we hadn’t hung out in a while. I realized my feelings were hurt. After about 2 weeks, I told her “Maybe I’m crazy but I kind of feel like you’ve been avoiding me.” She just smiled and said, “No you’re right!” Getting this out in the open helped us to move past it. We were able to share hurt feelings, disappointments and failed expectations. I told her I understood her silence but that my feelings were hurt because I wanted her to talk to me, to cry with me, and to let me encourage her.
In our friendship, we aim to be very open with one another. Sometimes that means asking her if it’s okay to talk about motherhood and family. Jackie loves children and she knows a lot about development, so she is one of my first calls when John does something new. She also is the only person I ask if I should quit talking about my child. I’ll often ask “Is it okay to talk about this today?” When she answers no, it’s not because she doesn’t like him or care about me. But when I seek to understand where she’s coming from, I know it’s not personal.
Women going through infertility do not have license to be bitter, be a bad friend or seclude themselves. But there’s a balance. We are called to encourage and love them in the season they are in, to carry this burden with them. That changes our reactions and our expectations of them. We should not expect these women to be the greatest friend at all times or be our #1 support through motherhood. We need to hold them accountable but with love. Our expectations need to be full of grace.
As women we imagine the idea of pregnancy and a baby like it is all parties and cute tiny clothes. But that is not reality. Getting pregnant can be difficult, being pregnant is uncomfortable and those cute, tiny clothes have poop stains on them. Instead of being disillusioned at this reality we need to realize our life is not about us! Our life is about God’s glory, not our circumstances. That needs to be your mentality when you love your friend. Jackie has learned this the hard way in the past 3 years. I have seen her embrace that her purpose is to bring Jesus glory and that He is in control of all things. She has fought through this and is able to rejoice with Christ. I am called to encourage her and other friends struggling with infertility and to remember this on days when it is hard to remember. What it looks like for me to share her burden and for her to share my joy looks different. And that’s okay! We’re figuring this out together.
-Photo Credit: Nick Galifianakis for The Washington Post