Feelings: Faith's Friend or Foe?

Infertility, like so many other difficult circumstances in life, is a roller coaster of emotions.  Hope, excitement and happiness one day followed almost immediately by anger, sadness, fear, hurt and confusion the next.  And the cycle repeats...  

For the first three years or so of my roller coaster, I would ignore or deny all the negative emotions.  “I’m not allowed to feel that way; I have faith.”  I would tell myself that over and over, month after month, treatment after treatment.  It would make me angry and defensive when a couple precious friends would say “It’s okay to feel any way you feel.” I wanted to scream back “No it’s not okay because I’m trying to have faith!”  They, rightly so, kept asking why I wouldn't let myself cry and why I was trying to be so “strong.”  What they didn't know was that I was trying to be “so strong” because I was so scared.  It’s certainly not their fault.  They didn't know why I was neatly packaging those emotions up over and over and putting them on the shelf.  But the fear remained... If I admit I have these negative feelings, I no longer have faith.  

I’m naturally a pretty happy and cheerful person, so that only reinforced that I wasn't "supposed to" have a bad day where I just wanted to stay in bed and cry.  I'm not condoning that you should try to stay curled up and hidden away crying in bed, but I put unrealistic expectations on myself to never have a bad day.  To be honest, it was only after the true crushing blow of losing a pregnancy that all those neatly packed away baskets of many, many disappointing cycles came crashing down.  It was finally too much to bear, too much to deny and I had to face the ugly question. Do I still have faith?  It terrified me!  I was so scared that by admitting I was sad, angry, hurt, and confused that I was also admitting I didn't have as much faith as I had convinced myself that I had.  Oh I was so wrong!  And I was on the edge of learning one of the biggest spiritual lessons I have ever learned.

God has to allow you to break, so that He can redeem you.

How I wish I had understood that so much earlier in our journey because I added so much extra guilt and stress to an already difficult struggle.  But it took getting to the point where I had to admit I was broken, so that I could actually experience the indescribable power of the Holy Spirit.  When I was finally honest with myself and with God about how I felt, He took all of it from me and let me know one simple and powerful truth. 

“My beloved child, I am bigger than your fears, I am bigger than your hurt, I am in control and you are mine.” 

All those fears were instantly replaced with a hope like I've never experienced before.  A hope that no matter how this story ended, I was His precious child and He loved me enough to give me what is best for me.  

Through a glimpse of God’s amazing grace I realized that yes, I can have faith and be scared, sad, angry, etc because my faith is in a God that is bigger than any feeling I will ever experience.  He accepts me, loves me and comforts me regardless of how I am feeling today.  It’s okay for me to admit that I’m scared or angry or hurt because it’s a reminder that I need His direction for my life. It makes me crave the comfort of the Holy Spirit in tough times.  And boy do I recognize how much I have to praise and thank Him for the endless gifts He showers on me.  Feelings were given to us as a part of our creation – a creation that is in His image.  Our response to them can be wrong (i.e. letting anger cause us to act out against another) but, if used properly, feelings are a gift that remind us to draw closer to Him.  Feelings, the good and the bad, give us passion for living, for our children, for our husbands, for our friends, and most importantly a passion for God.  That moment where I finally emptied out all my baskets of grief, hurt and anger, allowed me to actually see a glimpse of my God that loves me enough to let me be angry and hurt.  Instead of condemning me, He wrapped me up in His arms so closely that I couldn't help but be changed by His grace and comfort.  And that my sweet friends, grew my faith more than any Sunday school lesson ever could.  So yes, feelings are, in my opinion, quite the friend of faith.  Let yourself feel whatever you feel during your journey, but let it draw you close to Him.  God already knows and loves you just the way you are.