It happened again.
There you were, scrolling on social media, innocently curious about what your friends are up to. As your eyes take in the pictures and captions, you’re feeling okay. You ate a delicious breakfast, the sun is shining, and your morning devotions were refreshing. You read an uplifting post with a Bible verse and you feel encouraged. You see a cute picture of your friend’s dog and you smile. Someone posts a joke and it makes you laugh.
And then suddenly, you scroll to reveal a picture you’ve seen a hundred times.
You see the black and grey shadowy photo, the baby shoes, and the witty caption that always ends in either “Coming Month Year” or “Baby LastName due Month Year.”
And you may have seen it a hundred times, but each time, it’s a kick in the gut.
Your stomach drops a little bit. Your heart races for a few seconds. And suddenly everything that was fine three seconds ago is not fine anymore.
Emotions flood in. Sadness. Jealousy. Judgment. Frustration. A sense of injustice. And an overwhelming guilt that none of the first emotions you experience are “happy” or “joy.” You’ll get there—hopefully—but not right now.
Can I be really honest?
I want to be the girl who can go to the baby shower and pose for the picture touching the pregnant woman’s belly with a smile that exudes pure joy. But I’m not there.
I want to be the girl whose immediate response to the pregnancy announcement is selfless celebration rather than selfish shame. But I’m not there.
I want to be the girl who can love on others’ kids without feeling a sense of loss and sadness that I don’t have my own to love on. But I’m not there.
Joy and sorrow can and will coexist. On this side of eternity, pure and complete joy is not attainable in our fallen state. But I’m looking to make joy the majority. The default. The rule.
Girl, if that’s you, let’s let Jesus work on us together.
To be transparent, I’m writing this coming off a very fresh pregnancy announcement within my family. I was blindsided in a casual family group text. I was hurt. By the announcement itself and by the way it was announced. I didn’t feel valued. I didn’t feel seen.
But the Spirit quickly reminded me that holding onto bitterness and hurt doesn’t make me seen. He is my defender, and so I can let go of this twisted notion that holding onto hurt is how I defend myself. He sees me and He has not forgotten me, and so I am free to let Him heal me—to move me from sorrow to joy.
After hearing the news, I took a walk. I needed to get outside, breathe some fresh air, and silence all the distractions and alerts and texts. I needed to talk to God.
Much like everything else that’s broken and messy in my life, He told me He wanted to use this. He wanted to take what the enemy meant for evil—an announcement that would send me spiraling into despair and self-pity and defensive bitterness—and turn it for good. I knew this needed to be my next blog post.
To help me heal, and to help you heal.
I asked God what He wants us to do when someone announces they’re pregnant and we’re still not. I also asked some friends who have struggled with infertility.
How do we process it? How do we respond to it? How do we move on from initial feelings of hurt or injustice?
Through prayer and through the words of friends, the Lord gave me five things.
It is okay to feel what you feel. Each time a couple announces they’re pregnant, you are confronted with your reality all over again. And so you may have to grieve again—for the life you thought you’d have, for the loss you experienced, or for the dreams you had to let go.
If your first emotion is not joy, that’s okay. It really is. Give yourself some grace. Cry it out. You’re allowed to feel sad, to feel mad, to feel hurt, to feel anxious, to feel jealous. Those are real feelings, and you are allowed to feel them.
But you can’t stay there.
My friend shared with me a beautiful image of these complicated thoughts and feelings being a bit like the Grand Canyon. It’s okay to hike through them, but you can’t set up camp there. It’s a hard hike and there’s going to be a lot of struggle. But if you allow the Great Comforter to be your strength and to keep you moving, you’re going to get out of there, and it’s going to be beautiful.
I remember hearing this one line in a message at my church awhile back, and it really stuck with me: feelings are real, but they’re not always true. See, right now, you may feel angry. You may feel frustrated. You may feel forgotten. You may think, “they don’t deserve it” or “it should have been me” or “they weren’t even ready.”
But that’s not where it ends.
We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ [emphasis added].2 Corinthians 10:5 NLT
This verse teaches us that the thoughts aren’t necessarily the problem; it’s what we do with them and the power we give to them.
We need to hold them up to truth.
So feel what you feel, but invite God into that and let Him work. Because in the light of His Truth, He can transform those thoughts and feelings.
And that brings me to Step 2.
2. Talk to God.
In the past, instead of heading straight to my Comforter, I’d let the hurt fester. I’d look for something to numb my mind and make me forget about it for a moment: Netflix, more scrolling, eating, snarky sarcasm, whatever.
And I’d never really address my hurt with God. I’d suppress it, justify that my response was reasonable, and pretend that I didn’t know deep down that I was harboring sin—my prideful, selfish, jealous heart and all the other sin flows from it.
And so my hurt would turn me bitter and rotten because I never let God heal it. Listen, 0/10 would recommend.
For God to heal you, you have to let Him in. You have to talk to Him about it.
Be honest with Him; He can take it. Verbalize your darkest thoughts and feelings and ask Him to take them. Rebuke the thoughts that aren’t of Him, because they’re not true. They have no power and they must bow to the name of Jesus. And then, ask God to give you His thoughts instead, to fill you with a fresh outpouring of His grace, and to give you His strength.
It’s hard work and it takes practice, but the Spirit is ever patient and ever faithful.
3. Listen to God.
As important as it is to talk to God in these moments, it’s even more important to listen to Him. Remember His promises to you. Let Him remind you who He is and who you are in Him.
The Creator of everything you know and everything you don’t, the One who knit you together in your mother’s womb, the One who sent His Son as a sacrifice in your place so that you could be made new and spend eternity joyfully complete in Him, is speaking to you—right this second—in His Word.
Put away your phone and other distractions. In fact, I won’t even mind if you leave this article now and head straight to your Bible–promise. Ask Him to quiet your mind and to reveal Himself and His promises to you.
There is so much treasure in God’s Word, so I’ve only provided a few verses simply to get you started:
Let Him remind you who He is:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.2 Corinthians 1:3-5 ESV
Jesus intimately knows the physical pain of the most brutal death, the emotional pain of abandonment and rejection, and the spiritual pain of longing for a different way than the Father’s good and sovereign will. In Christ, we are comforted, and we are empowered to comfort others.
God, you’re such a safe and powerful place to find refuge!Psalm 46:1 TPT
You’re a proven help in time of trouble—
more than enough and always available whenever I need you.
He is faithful and ever accessible. He will never leave you nor forsake you, so turn to Him and receive His limitless help. Wherever you are on your journey, He is right there with you.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.Philippians 4:7 ESV
Surrender yourself and your concerns to God; there is peace in His path. He sees your infertility, and as the God of the impossible, He can provide peace in the middle of it.
Also check out: Psalm 91:2, Lamentations 3:32, James 5:11
Let Him remind you who you are in Him:
We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.Romans 6:6 ESV
You don’t have to live a life of sadness or bitterness or jealousy, no matter who’s pregnant! You are free from that! You are made new and, by the Spirit, can live by grace and love and kindness.
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.Ephesians 2:10 NIV
God prepared a very specific plan for YOU. He did not create you generally or vaguely; He has work prepared beforehand for you to complete in His name.
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations [help the people to learn of Me, believe in Me, and obey My words], baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always [remaining with you perpetually—regardless of circumstance, and on every occasion], even to the end of the age.Matthew 28:19-20 AMP
Friend, your ultimate aim in this life should not be to have a baby. It should be to glorify the name of your Savior and share the good news with those around you. Our gracious God has equipped you for this purpose, and I can say with full confidence that your journey with infertility—no matter its outcome in this life—can bring glory to God and can help you share Him with others.
Also check out: Romans 8:37, Proverbs 19:21, 1 Corinthians 12:27
4. Embrace the life you have…and treat yo’self.
Occasionally, weep deeply over the life that you hoped would be. Grieve the losses. Feel the pain. Then wash your face, trust God, and embrace the life that he’s given you.John Piper
This advice from John Piper has quickly become one of my favorite quotes. In his two-minute clip on grief, he explains that grief is very, very real, but we do not have to grieve as those who have no hope. We know where our ultimate hope, satisfaction, and fulfillment lies—and, spoiler alert: it’s NOT in a baby. And so as we cling to that truth, God is able to pick us up out of our grief and move us forward.
And the best part? We don’t have to move forward begrudgingly, still lingering under a cloud of darkness and despair. We can move forward with joy and laughter and singing.
So, what’s one small way to embrace the life you’ve been given? In the wise words of Tom Haverford, treat yo’self.
When you see another pregnancy announcement, start by working through the steps above. And then, bake a cake. Go get some ice cream. Take a walk. Have a date night. Watch a movie. Play a game. Hang out with your friends. Listen to a podcast.
Do SOMETHING that makes you smile.
5. Give grace and celebrate well.
The last one is the hardest. So take a deep breath, ask the Lord for help, and get ready.
Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.Romans 12:15 ESV
When others rejoice, we should too.
This will look different depending on who is pregnant. Was it just an old high school friend who you only know through Facebook now? Maybe you can step past your feelings enough to simply “like” the post to show support.
But often, the relationships are closer than that. People we see, know, and interact with in person at church, work, or social events. Or, even closer than that—people we know and love deeply as friends and family.
Start with a baby step (pun intended, lol): telling them congratulations.
Only you know the best way to do that, but it’s important to do it. Withholding your support only hurts you—I promise you that. By refusing to acknowledge it—by pridefully and deliberately not congratulating someone—you are giving the devil way too much power.
Take the power back.
If you can’t muster up much more than the “congratulations” part right now, that’s okay. Ask God to keep working on your heart. He is faithful and just, and He who begins a good work in you will bring it to completion (Philippians 1:6). And as He does, your part is to walk in humble obedience where He leads.
Perhaps you can ask the couple how they’re doing and how the expectant mama is feeling. Maybe you can ask them if there’s something for which you can pray. Maybe you can mail them a gift card to help with baby purchases.
Believe me, these suggestions are as much for me as for you. As of now, I haven’t made it past the baby step yet.
But I know God’s working in me. And He’s asking me to step out in faithful obedience to Him. And as I write this, I know I’ll be held accountable to what I’m saying. I know I’ll have to walk the walk. But I also know that as I do, my God will supply my every need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).
The bottom line is that you choose your response. And choosing to hold onto bitterness and frustration only hurts you, no one else.
Remember: their joy does not take away from yours. Their pregnancy does not mean there are “less miracles to go around.” And what God is doing for them does not take away what He is doing for you.
So friends, let’s choose joy together.
Let joy be your continual feast. Make your life a prayer. And in the midst of everything be always giving thanks, for this is God’s perfect plan for you in Christ Jesus.1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 TPT