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.

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34 thoughts on “messy emotions.

    • chels819 says:

      It amazes me how He can use pain and turn it into salve. Thank you for sharing, reading, and know I just said a prayer for you and your heart. Hugs.

  1. Jen says:

    Chelsea your honesty is refreshing and heartbreaking. Your ability to lift others when your heart is heavy and your body is weak is a testament to your strength. Sending you lots of love

  2. Vicki says:

    Thank you for being so vulnerable. Your testimony lifts so many hearts. You point us to Jesus by sharing your story & struggles. Thank you. You are a strong woman & you are not alone. Lots of hugs!

  3. Laura says:

    Don’t delete this post! Your words spoke right to me at just the right time as my current life pearl is also a little battered. I know there are others who feel the same and appreciate your honesty and faith. Thank you.

    • chels819 says:

      I am so thankful that even though we are going through battered pearl seasons, we have Jesus and one another. Thank you for the encouragement … it meant a lot.

  4. ttcbabyturner says:

    It is so comforting to read your words knowing that I’m not the only one that feels the way you described! This post might have been very hard to write, but just know there are people like me that find comfort in knowing we aren’t alone in this struggle. Your strength to stick with your faith throughout all of this is amazing! Praying for you!

    • chels819 says:

      I just want to give you a big hug, thank you for this encouragement and validation. It’s hard but your words make it worth it. Thank you for those prayers! HUGS!

  5. Jaclyn says:

    I’m there, too. I recently moved out and have found myself on the couch a lot these days like: “God, I’m tired. Being an adult is hard. Waiting for my future husband to help with me this is hard. I know I should be worshiping you, getting in the Word, but I’m tired.”

    I wish you were here with me…we’d just sit on the couch and do whatever. I’m glad you, me and Caroline are all so exhausted. I don’t feel so alone…:-) i love you!

  6. missbluebirdblog says:

    I love how open you are. You inspire me to write my emotions becaus all I have is my hubby and I don’t want to stress him out totally. I thank you for your blog and your posts. I signed up with joyful devotion and I can’t wait to receive the amazing items and dig deep into the books and other fun stuff that may come. I’m glad I’m not alone. There is a sea of all of us going through the same and all I pray for is a ttc friend to turn to besides my hubby and sis.

    • chels819 says:

      I am so grateful to know that my sharing has inspired your sharing! Writing is so therapeutic for me and I know it’s a way God uses to help us. I hope you love Joyful Devotion too! (In the Wait may make an appearance in there later this year!). You aren’t alone friends … praying for us all. Hugs!

  7. Andrea says:

    Thank you for putting to words what so many women/couples feel. Infertility, literally is the hardest thing I have ever gone through that showed me what I was made of good bad and ugly. It made me trust in God in a way that was so personal. Because from the inner most being a mom is what I yearned for. Praying for you in this journey. Keep writing. Keep putting into words what so many are feeling and going through as well.

  8. Caroline @ In Due Time says:

    I just love your honesty Chelsea, because so many of us, including me, can relate too. You are not alone friend. I know that doesn’t take away the heartache and pain, but you are so loved. I hate that you have another anniversary coming up. I hate it all for you. It really just sucks sometimes, but as you said God can deal with it all. He can deal with your tears and with your anger and with everything.

    I love that we both talked about support today, because lately for me that has been crucial. Really without it (including yours) I would have quit. Friend, I am here to support you and lift up your arms when you can’t do it any longer. Cheering you on through your good and bad days.

  9. chon says:

    There is so much rawness and truth in here. Hon those triggers of those emotions are real things and it is impossible to always be upbeat. Sometimes it’s ok to say today I’m going to just cry it out and eat chocolate. The month leading up to the EDD on the m/c we had in November was full on. I was a mess and really down. Now the dates moved on I feel lighter again but I struggled. I’ve also had so many pregnancy announcements and u want to be happy but sometimes it just kicks you in the butt. Here’s hoping those 7 Embys turn into gorgeous babies xox

  10. Samara says:

    Oh man, I wish I could come and give you a huge hug. Ai much I could say in response, but instead I will say just two things:

    – This sucks. I wish you could be holding your sweet child in your arms right now. You’re allowed to be sad that you’re not; no need to feel shame.

    – You are loved. By God, your friends, family, readers, me…. You are seen, heard and loved so much.

    Xx.

  11. Samara says:

    Oh man, I wish I could come and give you a huge hug. There is much I could say in response, but instead I will say just two things:

    – This sucks. I wish you could be holding your sweet child in your arms right now. You’re allowed to be sad that you’re not; no need to feel shame.

    – You are loved. By God, your friends, family, readers, me…. You are seen, heard and loved so much.

    Xx.

  12. Amy says:

    I’m so sorry you’re feeling this way, but I’m so glad you shared. This is how I have been feeling lately, also. It can be really lonely when everyone around me is happy and their lives are moving forward, and I feel so stuck and so sad. Adding you to my prayers.

  13. Pam says:

    Chelsea, I received a note from you months ago, thanking me for allowing you to see in to my very personal life. The real me. Now I say that back to you. I can only the imagine the pain, frustration and financial worry you face. There have been many days and nights my prayers have only been Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. I know that the God of all comfort is carrying you and me, even when we are at our worst. I love you dear sister and I thank God for you. Lifting you up.

  14. mamajo23 says:

    I am so sorry for your pain. I am so lucky you are brave enough to share your story. I think you are a spectacular testimony to God and I am not even particularly religious. Xoxo

  15. meganswanek says:

    Hi there!!!!!!!! I came across your blog because we’re both featured as one of the 42 “inspiring Infertility Bloggers” that Lisa selected. I love the look of your blog, the clever title and most importantly, the candidness with witch you write. Looking forward to following your journey and a BFP in your future soon! I can relate on the cost. Our 1st IVF was $20,000 which we financed – and I had no eggs to freeze. Have you heard of CNY in NY? I live in CA but just had a consult with them today – they are $3,900 for everything except meds. Check them out!
    Sincerely, Your new reader
    megandewitt@blogspot.com

  16. Holly says:

    Chelsea, thank you for being honest, it shows that even as Christ followers, we struggle, we ache, we deal with all those tough emotions. We have probably spent 30k on our “fertility journey” and while I’m thankful I finally had my sons (via gestational carrier), I too often had moments of “ARE YOU FOR REAL?” aka, my younger sister has gotten pregnant with each of her THREE kids the first month of trying. All. three. times. I sometimes fantasied about what I could/would do if I didn’t have to pay to have children. Obviously once I got to hold them it was worth every cent, but before that, aka lots of money and only miscarriage and stillborn, it hurt that much more. I totally get the funk and I so appreciate you discussing it but then still turning it over to Him. Beautiful. And I am excited about your family on ice. September is just around the corner. Hope disappointment me several times, but I encourage you to dare to keep hoping <3

  17. Melissa says:

    Chelsea, thank you for this post. I love your honesty, even though it is hard & leaves you with such a vulnerable feeling. I hate that vulnerable feeling! But it is so important (in my opinion) to put it all out there because helping others going through this… it just makes it all worth it! Everything you said resonates with me. Praying for you, girl.

  18. Lauren says:

    Oh Chelsea, I’m just sitting here with tears streaming down my face- I related to SO much of what you said. Knowing the “right answers” but still feeling sorrow. The fact that I, too, didn’t think we would ever still be here. The fear that comes along with hope of a new cycle- I feel that so hard. And yes, the expenses of it all- the frustration of seeing people with their free babies. It feels so unjust. I am so sorry you are feeling all these things and I wish I could take you out to lunch and we could laugh and cry and just forget about it all for awhile. In the meantime, thank you for your transparency in the process and for reminding us that we are not alone.

  19. the OCD infertile says:

    July was such a rough month for so many people around me. Every time I would think, it can’t possible get worse, it did. Down to the very last day. I woke up this morning with Hope in my heart that this month would be better. I am praying the same for you, and those around us who have been struggling as well.

    Thank you for the VERY real and raw post. Sometimes, even though it’s hard, it’s good to feel all the things you are feeling, and let others know you are as well. Some days, certain people want to see a post like this over one where you are masking your sadness or pain. It is all a reminder that we are not alone, and that if we can take anything away from the pain, it should be that we could help someone else through theirs. It’s one of the main reasons I’ve never regretted being public about our struggles on social media, I have connected with so many people that I wouldn’t have otherwise if they didn’t know they could reach out to me for that kind of support.

    Prayers that August is a good one <3

  20. Nicky Johnson says:

    Thank you for putting your emotions and feelings into words and being so raw and real and truthful. Your words speak to my heart. I have found myself feeling similar emotions over the last year.

    I think about you a lot and pray that you are blessed with a baby (or babies) very soon. You are such a strong person. Keep looking to God for strength. Love to you, Chelsea!

  21. scrambledeggsandsundry says:

    I totally, 100% can relate to what you are saying! Please just know that is it absolutely ok to feel whatever it is you are feeling, don’t be ashamed of it and don’t push the feeling away. It’s all a part of you, good and bad. I too have so many blessings in life, but at times can’t help but feel sad, defeated, angry, etc. We need to be kind to ourselves, always. I can also relate to being afraid of hope. Hope an be a great thing, but it can also break your heart in a million pieces. I have one single embryo on ice and I don’t know when I will transfer. Because right now that little sliver of hope it still alive, and if it doesn’t work – that’s the end. So many complicated emotions. We are all there with you. Sending you love <3

  22. Caroline says:

    I keep circling back to your blog to check in on you. I have kept you in my thoughts in prayers, as this journey is one of the toughest I have ever walked. I finally had my little miracle only to lose my dad a few weeks later. I am now finding myself in another touch season and your post really, really spoke to me. Please don’t erase it or apologize for who you are and what you feel. You are going to be the most amazing mommy and I will be praying you get your little miracle so soon. Hugs!

  23. culinarycents says:

    Hi Chelsea. This was such an honest and beautiful post. I have not written about my own infertility struggles but I have started following yours recently and have read back through the archives from day 1. You truly are an inspiration, a lesson in faith, and a very strong woman. I, along with thousands of others, and cheering you on and praying for you.
    My advice for you is: it’s okay to be selfish sometimes. It’s okay to put you first. It’s okay not to like someone’s FB post if you don’t want to. It’s okay to just cuddle up at home with your husband and shut out everyone else for awhile. It’s okay to shut out certain people permanently if they don’t bring joy, support, or understanding to your journey.

    Praying for you, your husband and your 7 embryos!

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