In fact, at the time of this post going live, I am going through my third ectopic pregnancy. (For the uninitiated, this is when the egg is fertilised as normal, but then gets stuck outside the womb.) This can be pretty dangerous, and for me it has meant endless trips to hospital for blood tests and scans. It’s fair to say I have now got over my fear of needles and any embarrassment upon the inevitable request to “get undressed and pop your feet in the stirrups”. Delightful.
But aside from the horrible hospital visits and constant waiting for results, my faith has taken a bit of a battering, too. After the first one, which resulted in emergency surgery, I was inevitably left asking God “why?”. After the second, I prayed my socks off for God to change the outcome. The outcome didn’t change, so I didn’t talk to God for a while. And now, with this most recent ectopic pregnancy things have changed. I’ve always heard about trials refining your faith and character – but it definitely left me surprised as it happened in my own life.
Here are five things I’ve done this time around, that seem to have kept me from falling down the proverbial rabbit hole. These are just some of the things that have helped me. Even though it might not speak to your exact situation, I hope it helps you too.
1) Sing through the tears
When all you want to do is collapse in a heap of tears and snot, the last thing you may want to do is praise God. But you should try it. In those moments where my loss feels so profound and my grief so stifling – when I then sing to God with tears running down my face – that’s when a deep joy begins to bubble up. Yes, the world may throw every bit of crap your way, but God is God and is always worthy of praise.
2) Cling to God and His word
Now this might be a tricky one depending on what side of the fence you sit on. You might love all the classic Bible verses, have them on post-its in your diary and pinned to your fridge. Or you might, like me, sometimes recoil at the slightly glib clichés which are trotted out when times get hard. But, all that said, some of these promises have become a lifeline that I’ve clung to, and grappled with, throughout our losses. God is faithful. He does work all things for good. The joy of the Lord is my strength. I could go on. I have to admit, I haven’t even begun to fully grasp the theological depth behind many of these verses – but nevertheless I believe them, I cling to them and I find hope in them.
3) Watch back-to-back Mad Men
Or Breaking Bad, or The West Wing, or Dawson’s Creek. (No judgement here.) Sometimes I just feel so exhausted. Exhausted from thinking about my hormone levels, exhausted from crying and exhausted from explaining it all to my well-meaning friends. So on these days I hide away, put on a DVD and escape to 1960s New York. Inevitably, it doesn’t make your pain any less real, and you have to return to face reality, but sometimes even a short respite is necessary.
4) Look around you
Ok, this is obvious and again, it can sound a tad clichéd. But look around you and pray for your friends, family and for the awful stuff you hear about on the news. The more time recently that I’ve spent listening and praying with my friends, many of whom are also facing very tough situations, the more I’ve realised just how good, and important, it is to pray for each other. It has brought me back from those ‘woe is me’ moments. It has widened my perspective.
5) Set your own boundaries
When facing a trial there really aren’t many rules about how you should behave. Some people share everything with everyone. Some people tell only their best friend. Ultimately, I’ve learnt that it’s ok to share as much or as little as you feel happy with. I write a blog, so now all my followers know about it, and I’m ok with that. I have also come to learn what things trigger my tears, and so have set boundaries accordingly. I don’t watch One Born Every Minute or The Midwives. I’ve hidden several pregnant friends on Facebook. Of course I still love them, and am happy for them, but I know that seeing bumps and scan pictures isn’t helpful right now, in this time of healing. For you the boundaries may be different, but the idea still stands; know what might cause you to unravel and try to set the appropriate boundaries.
If you’re going through a difficult situation, consider also seeking professional help. There are many amazing organisations and charities that run helplines and websites and people who can speak wisely into your situation. Here’s our list of some of these organisations.
(Photo via Creation Swap)