Childlessness is one of the most heart-wrenching and loneliest struggles a woman can experience. The pain is silent, leaving many feeling isolated and devastated that their time to be a mother has yet to come. The consistent roller coaster of experiencing hope and excitement followed by feelings of anxiety and sadness can take a toll. If you are experiencing childlessness, you’re not alone. I have experience with this silent struggle, too, and while not all stories are written the same, we have this blessed assurance: Even in the silence and amidst grief, God has a plan; he is present and at work.
Here are five pieces of advice if you are longing for motherhood:
Allow yourself to grieve
“Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Mt 5:4).
In the opening line of “A Grief Observed,” C. S. Lewis wrote, “No one told me that grief feels like fear.” Deep within our souls, we recognize that life wasn’t supposed to be bound with loss. In God’s original design, we lived in a garden in perfect harmony with him. There were no tears, loss or pain.
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In the midst of grief — this nightmare of longing — God holds the stars in the sky, and he carries your tired, worn-out heart. God is near you now, and he empathizes with your pain. It’s okay to grieve. “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted, saves those whose spirit is crushed” (Ps 34:19).
Enjoy and grow in your marriage
“Beloved, let us love one another …” (1 Jn 4:7).
Life and loss are joint undertakings in a marriage. So often, we think successful marriages are ones in which we’re comfortable all the time, but that’s not true. Marriage takes a courageous and heroic temper to succeed. Bearing together, with composure, one heavy mischance after another. Not because a husband and wife do not feel them, but because they cling to one another.
Childlessness is not the end of the road but an opportunity to grow in your marriage. Life is filled with the ebb and flow of weeping and rejoicing. Somehow, in his sovereignty, God uses both for his glory and our good. Pray together. Go on dates. Dream big. Make plans. Together, seek God’s will.
“Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer” (Rom 12:12).
Christ calls us to be his disciples. He doesn’t place his children in categories of value based on family size. You are no less loved by God if you are struggling with childlessness. It may feel like God has abandoned you, but he’s with you in the silence. Even if you don’t know what to say, faithfully set aside a defined time and place to pray.
Quiet, designated time in prayer not only gives us an opportunity to lay our requests before the Lord but also to thank him for all he has done. Journaling prayers and the answers to those prayers as you see the Lord’s faithfulness in them cultivate a grateful heart. Seeing his faithfulness to hear our prayer is where we can find encouragement to remain faithful as we grow in confidence that he is working all things for our good.
You need community
“Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep” (Rom 12:15).
Our natural inclination is to want to do things ourselves and in our own power. God has given us not only his Word but also other people to encourage us, rejoice with us and weep with us.
Since the beginning, God never intended for us to be alone — we were created for relationships. Childlessness is an isolating cross to carry, having a community can be a healing balm to a wounded heart. Jesus was surrounded by faithful disciples and friends during his life and ministry on earth. Friendship is God’s gracious gift to us. He knows what it’s like to experience pain in a broken world. He knows our sorrows and sees our tears.
A word of encouragement
While the desire to be a mother is holy, your identity shouldn’t be tied to childlessness. Our identity is found in being made in God’s image and likeness — not in how successful we are, how loved, or our ability to have children. Life has many seasons. Seasons of joy, grief, hardship and comfort. God uses every season for our good, and though we cannot see the complete picture of what he is doing, may we seek every opportunity to search for a way to witness God working all things together as he works in our waiting.