Ushering in the New Year can be a challenging time when you’re not quite where you had hoped to be back when you were listing out your hopes and dreams twelve months ago for the year ahead. The same can be said of birthdays, anniversaries or other holidays. “Here we are again at _____ and we still don’t have a baby yet.” Or perhaps you find yourself in a different chapter and it’s “Here I am again at _____ and I still haven’t found a spouse/found a job/found a home/found myself in any better place than last year.” Once we start down that path of thinking, other familiar negative thoughts can be quick to follow…
“What a waste this past year has been.”
“Nothing good will ever happen.”
“Nothing will ever change.”
“Everyone else is _____ while I’m still waiting.”
“What’s the point of even trying anything?”
Before we know it, we have mentally tucked ourselves inside a blanket fort from our childhood and we don’t really feel like poking our heads out ever again… except perhaps for a snack!
No matter how tempting it is to engage in negative self-talk and repeat the same miserable story to ourselves, we must catch ourselves and realize that the thought pattern of “Here we are again at _____ and I still haven’t _____” is a red flag. We are not building a cozy blanket fort - we are actually submitting to the quicksand of the devil. This “quicksand of the devil” is the lie from Satan that these days of “still no _____” represent wasted months and years with no purpose, no meaning, no fruit. For those of us facing infertility, it is the lie that we are not fully living out our married vocation or doing the work of God’s kingdom unless we have a baby. If Satan can convince us that there is nothing worthwhile about our lives now, that we have nothing valuable to experience or offer, he will have successfully fooled us. Satan knows that God is calling us to do powerful, necessary, exquisite work for His Kingdom now, and the devil wants to do everything in his power to distract us from this truth and calling. Satan does not want that kingdom‐furthering work to happen. He wants us to get stuck in the black hole of self-centered despair and discouragement because if we stay there, he will have been successful in keeping us from using our gifts and doing God’s work.
So, if you find it’s been one more year without your greatest hopes and dreams being realized, hang on to this verse, in which Jesus says, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). Note that it doesn’t say “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly… once you’re able to conceive/find a spouse etc, but until then never mind, the abundant life doesn’t apply to you.” No, He calls all of us to that abundant life now, in our current season, right where we are. He has blessings for us to receive now. He has work He is calling us to do now. In the depths of our hearts we should hear the Lord calling, “Talitha cumi… damsel, I say to thee, arise!” or in another more direct translation, “Girl, I tell you, get up!” (Mark 5:41, emphasis added). As daughters of God, we must dust off our crowns and seize the day with the gifts and opportunities He has given us in this very season.
“Be who God made you to be and you will set the world on fire.” St Catherine of Sienna.
Journaling prompts (for reflection at the end of a month or year)
Where have I seen God at work in my life?
What lessons have I learned?
How have I grown?
What accomplishments am I proud of?
What do I not want to repeat in the coming month/year?
What is one way God may be calling me to serve Him in the coming month/year?
What is one gift I have been given (talent, resources, time etc) and how can I use it to serve God this month/year?
Who is a good encourager that I can go to who will help me objectively reflect on the fruits of the past month/year and where God may be calling me in the coming month/year?
What is one thing you have a pull on your heart to pursue, try, look into, accomplish? Tell a friend (so they can hold you accountable) and pick ONE action step you can take to move you towards that thing.
Find a spiritual director to help you focus on where God is calling you in the current season.
Take time every week to pause and take photos of accomplishments, blessings, things you are thankful for. Make a special album on your phone, or a real life scrapbook, so you can flip through the reminders whenever you are tempted to despair about the passing of time.
Make a weekly practice of listing your accomplishments as well as your “high” points so you can reflect on them throughout the year, and especially at the end of the year.
Make it a practice of taking at least five minutes of quiet prayer every day and reading a verse or paragraph of scripture each day. Make a point to jot down something that stands out to you from your prayer and reading. If God sends you consolations at another time (through a friend, something you’ve read, a thought about something God is teaching you/something he wants you to do), write it down in your journal. Pick a special color to use for these consolations so it’s easy to find them when you look back on your journal later.