We’ve had Teddy for nearly five months now, and I have to admit, it’s still a little surreal. We waited so long for this chapter of our lives to begin, it’s amazing to realize we’re actually living it now.
But I have several friends who are still on the other side, waiting: either undergoing fertility treatment or going through the adoption process. These friends ask for prayers and advice, which I’m glad to provide when I can. And for those compiling paperwork and preparing for “the call,” I know what to say, mostly the same things you’d squeal to someone announcing a pregnancy: “I’m so excited for you!” “You’re going to have a baby before you know it!” I can joke around that they need to go on lots of date nights now–before they’re parents. I also know what to ask; I can interrogate them about where they are in the process because it’s so familiar to me.
With friends undergoing fertility treatment, though, it’s different. I still know what to ask. I went through all that, too, and know all the terminology and acronyms and can nod my head in sympathy at each detail and shake my head in remembrance of my own experience.
But I struggle with what to say. And this really bothers me. I’ve been there. I should know exactly what to say. I should have insight into what words and phrases will be comforting and encouraging. When a friend pours out her frustration and anxiety and hope and dread, I should have wisdom to share. I mean, did I not learn anything during my own time of need? I know I yearned for encouraging words when I was waiting and wondering and hoping. I didn’t even know what people could say that would make me feel better, but I wished they did.
And yet, now that I’m on the other side of this journey, I know, it’s not that easy–even though I’ve been there. Sometimes there aren’t words to say. Because, really, when I think about it, the only thing I wanted to hear was, “It’ll happen for you,” said with absolute certainly, as if the speaker had heard from God himself. But of course, no one could because no one had. Well, people did say that, but not with conviction; rather the words were said in earnest, as if merely speaking them would make them true. They wanted so desperately to have something, anything, to say, they went with that. It wasn’t helpful for me at the time, but I understand where they’re coming from now.
What I know now is that sometimes the best response is simply to acknowledge the difficulty of the situation. Sometimes all I can do is give a hug, promise that I’m there to listen, and commit to pray.
Because I definitely know what to pray. I pray they are successful, of course, but I also pray very specifically for these friends for a host of other things as they struggle to build their families. And since I was so encouraged by friends telling me they were praying for me, I hope these friends who are squinting to see the light at the end of the tunnel will also be encouraged by that.