Friday, October 24, 2008

Overcoming selfishness.

How did you truly overcome your own selfishness so that you could actually be happy for your pregnant friends/relatives?

I'm afraid that my jealousness and own self pity is in reality making me not really happy for these people.

I find myself getting so anxious whenever I know I am going to be around one of my pg friends or family members.

Rachel’s answer:

How did I overcome my own selfishness? I didn’t. I’m sorry that’s not the answer you wanted to hear. But I didn’t “overcome” this while dealing with Infertility. It was a never ending battle that I faced every day. Each new announcement brought new trials, some were harder than others. But every time I had to fight through it because I wasn’t ok staying in that selfish place.

Why? Why didn’t I let myself stay in a selfish place?

There are many reasons. First and foremost, I believe that living in complete selfishness (no matter how much you might need it from time to time) but living there every day, day in and out with no plans/hopes of ever getting out, is sinful. God never intended us to dwell in that place. He WANTS us to move passed it. And he wants to be our source of strength.

Second, I believed that if I didn’t at least TRY to get away from complete selfishness, I was letting Infertility rule me. And I knew I was stronger than that, but more importantly I knew GOD was bigger than that and desired more for me.

And lastly, because I knew it would hurt relationships. The amount of time I spent there no doubt already did hurt friendships, but thankfully only temporarily.

So even though I initially answered I didn’t overcome it, I was always working towards that.

A very close friend of mine got pregnant last year and I needed a break. From her. No doubt that was REALLY hard for her, but I knew in my heart I was not in a place where I could talk to her every day and NOT ruin our friendship. I felt it was better to just take a break. So I asked her for that and she allowed it. I know that had to have hurt her, but I am grateful she was willing to push aside her own hurts and allow me the thing I needed.

As with every announcement, my first instinct was sadness, anger and bitterness. This stemmed from my own self pity. I was angry with our own situation. I was angry that I couldn’t be happy for people I loved and I was angry that they got pregnant when that’s all we wanted, for so long.

But I prayed, and I prayed and I prayed. I also had others praying for me. And eventually I would start to see the light again. Sometimes days later, sometimes months later, but it always came, even if for only a brief time.

When I did see that light, I would praise God for small steps in the right direction and I would ask my friend/family member about their pregnancy. It’s amazing what you can do in the power of light that darkness takes away from you. In the dark I could NEVER have brought myself to ask simple questions like “how are you feeling?” or “when are you due?” But when those small glimpses of light came out, I would power through and ask those questions.

Because that’s what a good friend does and I wanted desperately to be that person.

And then the darkness would often creep back over me and I couldn’t ask anything for a while.

It was a constant cycle. Some light, then dark, some light, then dark.

In those very rare times that I could truly set aside my own selfishness, I took advantage and showed my friend/family member that I did care.

I don’t know if it ever meant much, or even was noticeable to those around me, but I noticed it. And there is something so empowering about being able to push aside your own self pity and focus on someone else.

Even if those times are rare.

As far as spending time with pregnant friends... sometimes I avoided it if I could. Other times I just made frequent trips to the bathroom while with them (which sadly meant I was taking sob breaks).

If your friends know what you’re going through, I really encourage you to share with them that sometimes you might need to cancel plans with them, or need to not ask them about their pregnancy for a while.

I know I have amazing people in my life, but I always took that time to lay it out. And I was never once made to feel shameful for it.

And the times I did spend with a pregnant friend, you can be sure I went in with a lot of prayer. Because I knew that I had the potential to get nasty and angry and bitter. And I never wanted that. Prayer is a powerful thing. And without it, Satan feels the need (or even invitation) to make himself known. So pray against that! Rebuke Satan every chance you get.

As always, if I haven’t answered your question like you were hoping, please feel free to email me again.

Melissa’s answer:

Being pregnant two times while Rachel was trying caused us to deal with this exact situation in great depth. As much as she had to battle her selfishness, I had to battle mine too.

I, of course, had every “right” (there is that word again!) to talk about my baby, how I was feeling, what I was excited and anxious about.

Rachel asked me very specifically to NOT talk about these things with her. Was this an easy request to hear? Absolutely not. It was not my fault, after all, that she could not have a baby. It was not my fault that I could. So, why should I have to be “punished” so to speak?

Of course, these thoughts came into my head for about 5 minutes and then I started to attack them with prayer. I was NOT ok with staying there. I was not ok with putting my needs above Rachel’s.

Were her needs ok to ask of me? I have no idea…but that wasn’t the point. As Rachel said, living and staying in selfishness is NOT ok. So….I turned to God for his strength. His healing. His grace.

I loved Rachel too much to allow her “selfishness” to turn me to selfishness, thus causing a tear in our friendship. As hard as this situation was, I was very grateful that she was honest with me. It did our relationship much more good…no matter how hard it was to hear…than if she had just “pretended” all was ok.

From this “side” of things I have to say that it will probably not be easy for you to be around your pg friends. You will probably always get a bit of a knot in your stomach when you are. BUT, what will make it easier?

  1. Start the process of handing over the selfishness to your Heavenly Father*
  2. TELL your friend(s) how you are feeling. But make sure they know that you are not saying this to hurt them…but to protect your friendship.
  3. And give them some time to digest what you are saying. It can not be expected that they will hear any of this and say “no problem!”…they will most likely need to process through it. Give them that space. AND PRAY


*If anyone who is reading this does not know the amazing love and security of Christ….please talk to us. If you are interested in letting him become your savior….please talk to us! If you just don’t understand and have questions about who he is…talk to us!! It is THRU him that we have come through this healthy, happy and stronger than ever.

4 comments:

Kristin said...

Thank you so much for your insight - and also for sharing the real message and that is the hope and light that comes with following a Savior!
God Bless you both!
Kristin

Tab said...

I just wanted to thank you guys for doing this...it's an amazing testimony and witness of God's love, not only are you sharing stories that help those of us that are infertile and our family members, but your sharing God's love and the plan of Salvation with everyone! Keep up the good work, you will be blessed for this!!

Allison said...

The Lord is definitely at work! Just a few days ago (Thanksgiving, to be exact) my sister announced she is pregnant with her second child. My husband and I have been TTC for a year and a half, to no avail. Somehow, someway God led me to your blog today, when I really needed it most. I am grateful for your candor. This is what my heart has been looking for, someone who knows what I am feeling and can help me past my selfishness. Thank you!

Erin said...

I don't know if you are considering continuing this blog, but I wanted to be one voice that said... please do! I love reading your blog and really look forward to your insights. If you're going to keep posting, please know that at least I will be checking back frequently to see what you have to say.