messy emotions.

Shauna Niequist writes: “For me, writing is about control. Or, more accurately, loss of control…Writing for me feels like getting naked in public. It feels like falling to the bottom of a well and finding lots of creepy crawly things down there with you. It feels like opening up a box of snakes. It feels kooky and scary and out of control. It makes me upset sometimes, because it makes me honest … Writing is my best chance of happiness and it is the riskiest thing I can do.”

I’ve put off writing this post because I hate the feeling of exposure associated with public writing. You see, there’s nothing more vulnerable and humbling than sharing the emotions you’re feeling, and processing through them for your neighbors, your gym partners, and your friends and family to see. {Truthfully, I’d love to be anonymous today}. For me, I lose the control when my fingers start typing. And I feel SO exposed, because it’s hard to admit when you’re having a hard season to everyone around you. But I do it because I know I am not alone and if you are in the same place, you need to know this happens and you will be okay.

So here’s my struggle lately: I’ve been really sad. Weary. Defeated. Overwhelmed. Jealous. Angry. Bitter. But mostly sad. The kind of sad where you cry several times a day and you aren’t really sure why, you just know your heart is hurting and the tears are falling down your face.

I feel out of control with my emotions. As a writer, we pray for ways to relate to others, looking for messy, honest, relatable stories to write and share, but I forget it often means I have to live through those seasons myself. The gritty, tender, tear-filled ones. The ones where it feels like I am being swallowed up by grief, grief for things I can and can’t describe.

I’ve been wrestling with God – asking Him how I can feel such exhaustion and weariness and yet, be filled with joy and peaceful trust. I know all the “right answers” but it seems I’m leaking nothing but sorrow for things I can’t quite pinpoint. So I have been going back and forth, asking God why He is allowing me to feel such heavy emotions and why I am struggling so much to live out this command: “ Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

Here’s my conflict. I don’t want to numb myself out – ignoring the emotions that are messy and ugly and focusing only on the joy. I have felt more convicted than ever to walk through the murk and let myself feel. So I just keep bringing these honest emotions to God and asking for help, guidance, direction, deliverance and His only response lately has just been “Eyes on Me, not your circumstances. It’s okay to feel.”

As I have been sorting, here are some thoughts:

  • God can handle my grief, sorrow and questions. MY job is to bring them to Him. When I bring them to Him, it takes my eyes off of my circumstances and places them on the One who is greater than my world. It invites Him in. I can still be real while keeping my gaze upward.
  • Often times I feel like I have to go – go – go to find God. Verses like “Come to me all who are weary …” and “Draw close to me …” make me exhausted in these seasons. Partially because physically I am so drained that I don’t want to “come” or “draw”, but even more so, mentally and emotionally, it feels like so much work. My friend Kyle sent me the best text the other day: “No one can tell you what’s best for you at this time. There’s not a book for all this infertility stuff. Sometimes we don’t have to stand in our trials. We can cozy up in a blanket with our Morkie {Cali} because God will find you on the sofa too.” Her words freed me to stop trying to stand with exhausted weary legs and simply collapse down, because the truth is real – God will come to us when we are too tired to go to Him. We just need to cry out His name and He meets us.
  • Similarly, we have to be able to ask our friends to carry us when we can’t. In Mark 2, it talks about a paralyzed man who needed his friends to carry him to Jesus so he could be in His presence and be healed. This story touched my heart so much these last few weeks because it reminded me that it’s okay to ask your friends to carry you. To pray for you, to encourage you, to lift you up to Jesus when you can’t get there yourself. So to my friends who have listened to me cry on the phone to them the last few weeks, texted me reassuring words, sent silly snaps, and mailed encouraging notes – thank you for carrying me with your encouragement, your sensitivity and your prayers. Thank you for taking the time and energy to listen and enter into my murky emotions and tell me it’s going to be okay.
  • Feelings don’t matter when it comes to God’s goodness and presence. There may be times we don’t feel like He hears us or is at work in our lives, but feelings aren’t reality. So we are to TRUST HIS WORD, above all, TRUST HIS CHARACTER, above all, and continue to PRESS IN above all. Even when we don’t feel like it will end.

Now I know what you are thinking – what in the world do you have to feel so sad about?! You have 7 embryos on ice, an upcoming transfer this fall, a great husband, blessed life, awesome friends … huh???

I totally get it and wish I could explain it to you. Because ALL of those things above lead me to rejoice! I am incredibly blessed and when I read that, I wonder how I could still have so much grief mixed into each day.

We have another miscarriage anniversary coming up this weekend (Sunday), and for the past 10 days, I just remember what it felt like 3 years ago to be pregnant. To have so much hope in my heart. I remember the positive tests, the excitement, then the bleeding, the grief. I remember how tender my heart felt at the time and I am feeling that tenderness all over again. Because friends, truthfully, I didn’t think we would still be here. And that sorrow is overwhelming. I am learning I can still fully trust God’s and be weary at the same time. This typically mellow emotion of grief is just coming in a bigger wave than usual.

I am afraid of the hope that’s to come with the cycles ahead. I am terrified at the positivity the doctor feels. I have seen, felt, experienced, hoped, for 7 embryos in the past. I have their pictures tucked away in my desk and the thought that there are 7 more to be added in the future terrifies me. Because of the potential pain, because of the lack of control, because of the love I have felt and will continue to feel. Trusting God is dangerous and I keep bringing my fears to His feet and asking Him to help me let go of them, but the waves still come. I don’t know what the future holds but I have to trust the one that does.

I’m frustrated at the expense of infertility. I get crabby when I see people able to do things or buy grand things because their babies were free. I hate that we have to think so far out, being so careful with our savings, knowing the significant cost of transferring each of these 7 babies, the tens of thousands of dollars of meds and ultrasounds and blood work to do so. A beautiful blessing but also, something additional to worry about. We keep writing a check to a storage company to properly freeze our babies, a daycare bill in an icebox for something that may never be – so few people will ever understand this financial budgeted item. Then I hate that I feel jealous and weighted down by the financial worries, because I know God will provide and take care of us. I want to buy new silverware, replace our old couch, and install some shelving without feeling like we are being irresponsible with our money. I am frustrated that I stopped working full-time to pursue treatments because I would “certainly become a mom soon”, only to be left without said title. I am tired of trying to make wise decisions so that we can live life without being handcuffed to infertility, while being kind and generous to others, and also, always being prepared for the fact that it will be a few thousand dollars each month for medication to sustain a pregnancy for 9 months. I hate that I feel frustrated that some people will never understand how hard it is to know a “normal” pregnancy will never be ahead for me.

My sorrow builds when people get offended that I can’t do it all, be it all, meet their every expectation. I am letting people down. I hear their passive comments and it just beats me down more. I am so sorry that I didn’t get a chance to text you back, or visit more often, or help you out in that way. I am so sorry. I wish I was stronger right now. I wish I could be that person for you right now. And then the cycle begins again. I am so tired.

The triggers are everywhere this month. Pregnancy announcement after pregnancy announcement. New babies born. Sweet questions asked by tender little voices about whether I am a mom yet. An abundance of miscarriages and stillbirths in the lives of people I love, restirring up the grief as I try to meet them where they are at. I want to have it all together. I want to be able to like every Facebook post you share of your family. I want to celebrate genuinely. I don’t want to feel stuck. It’s all overwhelming my heart.

And yet, through it all, God keeps speaking and reassuring me HE IS HERE WITH ME. He reminded me of this hymn the other night:
“Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.”

ALL OF THIS. These messy, gritty, dirty, sinful, stubborn, ugly, brittle emotions of mine, the ones I am so tempted to stew in, are released when we look to Him. And so I am left to navigate which emotions to let go of, and which emotions to sort through with Him, all while keeping my eyes on Jesus.

The tender instruction to take my eyes off of ME and lift them up to Him is so humbling yet incredibly freeing and refreshing. Because the me-me-me thinking depletes my joy. But looking at Him is a peaceful comfort that gives me strength. His character floods my heart. Goodness. Compassion. Mercy. Love. Full of grace. Forgiving. Wise. Faithful. Eternal. All knowing. Unchanging. Holy. The list continues on … And that list, in knowing Him, looking at Him, makes all of that “me” stuff grow so dim, diminishing in size and its power to control my emotions.

I know He doesn’t want us to be stuck but He also cares so deeply when I do feel sad. We are allowed to grieve friends. He wants us to allow Him to tenderly take care of us and trust Him enough to do just that.

And so, today I can’t really end with an answer. I believe that God has a purpose for this messy month of mine. I believe that full joy will come again. I believe the ONLY way through this is to hang on tightly to Him. Someone emailed me the other day and asked “How do you keep your faith strong during all of this, even on the bad days?” and my answer is simply to invite Him into the hard. I try to flood my ears with worship music and podcasts, journal, pray, often out loud, not be afraid to cry and keep seeking Him. Keep reading your Bible, your devotional, something that points you towards Him.

Also, take naps. Practice self care. Give yourself grace. {I have to keep reminding myself that my body is going crazy right now, readjusting to significant drops in hormones post retrieval cycle, adjusting to a new birth control pill, chilling with my cysts, struggling with this intense back cramping again, trying to reset before changing it all up again next month …} Ask your spouse and friends to give you a little extra grace too, because you will fail them in seasons of sorrow and remind them you still love them immensely. Our lives have to be woven with the good and bad, the highs and the lows, the moments of strength and the moments of utter weakness. God takes it all and works it for His good.

And so I will continue to wrestle. To figure out how to deal with this mess with joy and thanksgiving, with tears and sadness. I will work to strip off the ugly and let the Spirit renew my thoughts and attitudes. I will trust that God knows what’s hard. I will learn to be okay with not being strong all the time. I will pray for grace, for myself, to give others and for others to give me.

I will do my best to not delete this raw post because I know I am not alone in these seasons and if you are there too, let me encourage you to sink down on the sofa with me, because God’s here too. If we will see one another soon, can I please ask you for the grace and space to process these emotions with you on my lead? This is a super vulnerable shared world and bringing it up a million of times in an unsafe place feels overwhelming to me. Just give me a little extra love and if the time is right, we can talk about it. *Hug*

Life is a collection of a million, billion moments, tiny little moments and choices, like a handful of luminous, glowing pearls. And strung together, built upon one another, lined up through the days and the years, they make a life, a person.” –Shauna Niequist

My current pearl – June and July 2016 – is a little battered, but that’s okay. God knows, He sees. He sees your pearl too – shining and exciting, scared and grieving, or simply content and routine. He’s stringing them together, knowing what the finished product will look like. Let’s trust Him.