When All You Want for Christmas Is a Baby


When All You Want for Christmas Is a Baby: A Spiritual Survival Guide for When You’re TTC at Christmas

Ah, Christmas. The most wonderful time of the year. . . unless you’re going through infertility. Every commercial mocks your pain: angel-eyed toddlers looking oh-so-squeezable in red and white striped pajamas, waiting wide-eyed for Santa. (And how about that Pampers commercial they play 5,000 times every season with all the babies sleeping to “Silent Night”? Excruciating!) Every trip to the mailbox is an assault on your soul, every Christmas card a test of your gratitude, your self-confidence, your ability to keep jealousy at bay: babies in Santa hats, toddlers on Santa’s lap, and best (meaning worst) of all: the pregnancy-announcement-slash-Christmas-card combo, a double whammy! It’s enough to make the sanest and holiest of us Google things like “1,000 ways to blow up a mailbox.”

And then there’s the dilemma of your own Christmas card situation: Do you get a dramatic haircut so something looks different from last year’s card? Buy a puppy? Put an asterisk on the empty space between you and your husband and include a line on the back of the card that says, *A baby should be here. Yes, we’ve been trying to start a family FOR AGES, and no, we don’t want advice about ovulation and base temperature?

As a survivor of several Baby-less Christmases, I want to encourage you that with God’s help, you can have a joyful holiday season, even if you are also enduring a season of infertility. You can have fun. You can stay sane. You can enjoy the life you have even while you pray for the life you want.

Here are a few strategies that helped me and Kevin survive our TTC Christmases (TTC means Trying to Conceive):

1–Battle envy with love and self-pity with gratitude.

The Christmas season can make us more painfully aware of our own empty arms compared to our friends’ full ones. Romans 12:21 encourages us to “overcome evil with good.” Whenever I was tempted to envy friends their babies or pregnancies, I worked to resist envy by focusing on how much I loved my friends. I deliberately centered on thoughts like this: I love this friend. I am happy that God has blessed her with a family. I am glad she is not suffering through infertility. I pray she enjoys a fulfilling Christmas season being pregnant/being a mom, just as I hope to enjoy my own Christmas in my own way. (And then I ran to the nearest Starbucks and drowned my sorrows in a decaf mocha.)

We have to deliberately combat self-pity with gratitude. When the Enemy whispers, “God is holding out on you. Your life is terrible. Everyone else has more than you,” we have to replace those lies—which lead only to sadness and bitterness—with the only thing powerful enough to overcome them: gratitude. Remind yourself of God’s goodness, thinking through all the gifts he has already given you—be as specific as you can. I like to make gratitude lists and read them to God in prayer!

2–Think ahead, and be gentle with yourself.

Christmas heightens our emotions, and if you’re going through infertility, you’re probably going to feel more fragile during holiday seasons.

We all have things that trigger us: seeing pregnant women or new moms; walking within 100 feet of the baby aisle; Instagram bump-dates. If you can identify the things that most hurt you and tempt you to feel down, then you can plan ahead to either avoid those situations entirely, or at least to experience them in smaller, more manageable doses (doses that you have spiritually and emotionally prepared yourself to handle).

For example, let’s revisit the Christmas card issue. If you hold your breath every time you open a card, waiting for temptation to take you down—the stab of envy when you see the umpteenth baby swaddled in a stocking; the painful sense of insecurity or even inferiority when you see yet another friend walking across a field holding hands with her children and just looking so daggum motherly and complete—then go easy on yourself. You don’t have to drool over every baby picture and linger over every life update. Set the Christmas cards aside and open them in batches with your husband at your side. Pray and set your heart on celebrating the lives of the people you love, give the cards a quick once-over, and move on with your life. Your life, the life God gave you—a life that is fully meaningful and valuable and packed with love, with or without a baby. (And hey—if you really can’t handle the baby’s-first-Christmas-themed cards, who’s to know if you skip opening them altogether?!)

If you usually buy gifts for a family in need, but the idea of shopping for someone else’s kids brings up too many sad feelings this year, perhaps you can buy gifts for an adult instead. Or bypass the whole gift-shopping idea and donate food to your local food bank or time to a soup kitchen.

Social media. . . take it easy for a while, my friend, unless you have a superpower that makes you immune to envy.

And can we talk Christmas pageants? My advice is to head to the bathroom for a nice long break during the kids’ performances at church. I mean, the heart can only take so much.

Infertility is hard enough on regular days; during the Christmas season, go as easy on yourself as you can. Even though I joke about these things, I’m not suggesting we make excuses for becoming selfish or cynical or rude—but it’s not wrong to shelter ourselves a bit from some of the difficulties the holidays bring. It’s wise to think ahead, plan ahead, and pray ahead.

3–Be intentional in your thinking. 

It’s oh-so-tempting to spend the entire holiday thinking about all the things you wish you were doing this Christmas…the baby you wish you were holding, the toys you wish you were buying, the sleep (weird as it sounds) you wish you weren’t getting.

And if Satan has his way, that’s all we will think about. We’ll be consumed by the sad things, the loss, the hole in our hearts. And in so doing, we give away any chance of joy. We give away our happiness, our gratitude, and our perspective.

I’m not saying your sadness and pain and the hole in your heart are not real. They are real. Your sadness is valid. Your loss is legitimate. But we can choose what we focus on this holiday season—and always.

Christian tips for infertility

Focusing on what we don’t have has never been God’s way. All throughout scripture, God encourages his people to remember what he has already done for them. What gifts they do have (even if they still lack some things they want—or even things they need). I love David’s attitude in Psalm 13–begging for relief even as he remembers God’s past kindness:

How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
    How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
    and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
    How long will my enemy triumph over me?

Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
    Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
    and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

But I trust in your unfailing love;
    my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the Lord’s praise,
    for he has been good to me. –Psalm 13, emphasis added

Here is a simple strategy that helps me reclaim control of my mood when I’m hurting (adapted from my book When God Says “Wait”):

–Take a moment every morning to write down 3 things you have to look forward to that day. (Some days you might be really stretching things, but that’s okay: This morning I’ll splurge and put fancy creamer in my coffee; today I get to meet a friend at the gym; tonight I’ll get to snuggle with my husband and re-watch Stranger Things.) No matter how difficult life is, we all have good things in store in every day, if we’ll just train ourselves to pay attention.

–Take a moment every evening to write down 3 things you are grateful for from that day: God prompted a friend to send an encouraging text just when I was feeling down; I got a phone call from my mother (I have a mother! She is alive and she loves me enough to call me!); I laughed at lunch with a friend.

Exercises like these bring gratitude and a healthy, big-picture perspective into our lives.

4–Be proactive in planning your holiday season. Focus on fun!

Christmas 2004 was rough for me and Kevin. It was the third Christmas since we’d started trying to conceive. Everything in me wanted to hide in my bedroom all December watching Die Hard, the most non-kid-related but still vaguely Christmasy movie I could find (ahem—even Die Hard has one annoying reference to the pregnant woman who needed a couch to sit on—no movie is safe when you can’t get pregnant!).

But I decided to fight back. Baby or no baby, I still loved Christmas, and I didn’t want infertility to ruin my favorite time of the year.

That year Kevin and I were intentional about doing a lot of fun things—fun things we might not be able to do, we reminded ourselves, if we had a baby in tow! We deliberately made new memories together. We decorated our house like crazy and made it feel festive. If memory serves, that was the year we drove out to the country to a Christmas tree farm and cut down our own tree. We went to late movies and made ourselves sick on popcorn. We slept as late as we wanted and cooked fancy breakfasts. We went a little crazy splurging on gifts for our siblings. We planned a fun vacation for the following spring.

Try this: Sit down with your spouse and make a list of things that would be fun to do this Christmas season, maybe some things like. . .

–Take an overnight trip away, just the two of you

–Cut down your own tree

–Go to a wine tasting or concert

–Watch a holiday light show

–We are always happier when we are giving. Find ways to serve your community: My favorite way to serve at Christmastime is to visit seniors in nursing homes (ahem, added bonus: not one of the nursing home residents will be pregnant!). Call ahead and ask how you can give: You can bring cards, sing Christmas carols, help with their Christmas activities and parties, or just sit and chat with the residents. Get ready to hear some amazing stories!

(Check out these related posts for more ideas: Have a Merry Married Christmas, and 10 Questions to Ask Now to Have Your Best December Ever.)

Christmas can be tough when you can’t get pregnant, but with focus and prayer, you can still claim joy. You can make memories and have fun. You can remain grateful and spiritual. You can stay close to your husband. You can sidestep the Enemy’s traps of envy, self-pity, and sadness.

Are you struggling to conceive this Christmas? My heart is with you. Send me your name—I’d love to pray for you!

-xoxo, Elizabeth


If you enjoyed this post, you might also like:

When God Says Wait: Navigating Life's Detours and Delays Without Losing Your Faith, Your Friends, or Your Mind

My book, When God Says “Wait”

How Southerners Do Snow Days

When You Walk Through a Valley

The One She Needed to Write

Have Yourself a Merry Married Christmas

My friend Caroline’s blog, In Due Time

Loved Baby by Sarah Philpott, a book for those going through miscarriage or infant loss

 

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6 Scriptures to Read When You’re Sad


Photo by Claudia Soraya on Unsplash.

When we’re sad, it can be tempting to medicate our problems with temporary things—things that distract, things that numb. We turn to social media, to people, to food, to alcohol, to Netflix. But God’s Word is powerful, offering help and hope and healing that endure. Not easy fixes, but true comfort.

Here are some of my favorite scriptures to read during dark times—six Bible verses to read when you’re sad or depressed.

We could have listed six hundred, because the Bible is packed with encouragement, but we’ll limit ourselves to six. Most are short and simple. Some speak of God’s love and faithfulness and concern for us as individuals; others offer an eternal perspective on temporary troubles. I pray they minister to you as they have ministered to me. (Looking for Bible verses to read when you’re anxious? Click here to read some of my favorites.)

1.

Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people;
    praise his holy name.
  For his anger lasts only a moment,
    but his favor lasts a lifetime;
weeping may stay for the night,
    but rejoicing comes in the morning. (Psalm 30:4–5 NIV)

His favor lasts a lifetime…joy comes in the morning. 

2.

But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted;
    you consider their grief and take it in hand.
The victims commit themselves to you;
    you are the helper of the fatherless. (Psalm 10:14 NIV)

God sees us. He considers—takes time to ponder, to study, to care about—our grief. He carries us, and our sadness, in his capable hands. 

Bible verses to read when you are sad or depressed; Bible verses for depression

3.

 “Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell. What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.” (Matthew 10:28–31 NLT)

God knows us—he knows us better than we know ourselves. (Do you know how many hairs are on your head?!). We are valuable to him. 


Want more scriptures to see you through hard times? Sign up for my newsletter here and I’ll send you a free ebook:

How to Find God—and Joy–When Life Is Hard


4.

A slight twist on the familiar Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6 is most people’s go-to version, but I like some of Luke’s phrasing here): 

“Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:27–32 NIV)

How I love that sweet phrasing at the end: “little flock”! I can just see an affectionate twinkle in Jesus’ eyes as he spoke these words to the people he loved! And God is pleased to give us his kingdom, his best. 

5.

Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. . . . 

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:51–53, 56–58 NIV)

We will be changed! This world is not the end of us, and death holds no permanent power. Our labor for God is not in vain. 

6.

This one is a mouthful, but I just can’t abbreviate it. Hang with it till the end—you’ll be glad you did! It’s like taking a sip of water from a fire hydrant (an encouraging fire hydrant). 🙂 

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,  just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and insight he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:3–12, NRSV)

Do you get what this is saying? Our salvation is no accident. We didn’t get lucky and slip past the sin detectors and sneak into the kingdom of God. Unworthy as we are, unworthy as we feel, God counts us worthy in Christ. He chose us, and he chose us on purpose! In fact, it made him happy to choose us (“he destined us for adoption…according to the good pleasure of his will”). And imperfect as we are, through Christ God makes us holy, gives us every spiritual blessing we need, and shows us off to the world as children who bring him glory. Our lives in Christ make God look good. Amazing!


If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy:

My books, When God Says “Wait” and When God Says, “Go,” minister to people who are waiting and hurting.

When God Says Wait: Navigating Life's Detours and Delays Without Losing Your Faith, Your Friends, or Your Mind

how to find confidence and courage in God

8 Scriptures to Read When You’re Anxious

When You Walk Through a Valley

When Life Poops on Your Party

13 Scriptures to Help Siblings Get Along

Where Is God in Chronic Pain?


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