There is this trap that is all too easy to fall into. I am definitely guilty. This trap rears its ugly head in a lot of contexts….beauty, finances, education, the busyness of one’s schedule, the amount of sleep one gets, and…..in trying to conceive.
This is the trap of comparison.
It is a hard hard one to fight, because it so often pops unbidden into your head. It’s like it’s right there below the surface, ready to just jump out!
I’m going to be honest here, so bear with me. I have been on both sides of this comparison trap.
I have been the woman who has seen a pregnancy announcement from a friend who I know had only started trying 2 months ago (or 6 months or whatever the number is). And sometimes my immediate thought is, “That’s not fair!! I’ve been trying so much longer than her.”
AND I have been the woman who has felt slighted because I’ve only been trying for a year while others have tried for 2, 3, 4, or even 5+ years.
It is so important to remember that every woman’s experience is different. And every woman’s experience is deeply personal. For most women, fertility is a hugely personal, hugely emotional thing.
Why do we feel like we can assign difficulties to a value scale? Or try to figure out who has it harder? It’s almost as if we feel that we can circumvent the verse that says “rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep” because obviously God meant only if the difficulties are on a level playing field.
I still remember one time when I was talking to a friend about trying to get pregnant. I sheepishly told her that for our first son we were trying for “only” ten months. I braced myself for her response. What she said though surprised me. Her face instantly filled with compassion and she said, “10 months is a long time for an individual experience.”
That quick little comment made me feel like she got it. Like she understood that even though it was less than a year of trying, those individual days that composed those individual months were filled with hope and heartache. She validated my experience and became a safe person to talk to. No one wants to talk to someone who shuts them down and doesn’t allow them a voice.
It is convicting, because I know that I am not always that safe space for people. In face-to-face conversation I try to keep my words and face encouraging, but sometimes my mind is still saying, “That’s not fair!”
I heard this great quote recently. “Telling someone they can’t be sad because someone has it worse is like telling someone they can’t be happy because someone has it better.”
Every person is so individual and so unique and it follows that their experiences will also be unique and individual. Some of the details might be the same (doctor appointments, tests, diagnoses) but their upbringing, their emotions, their personality all go into it to make their struggle their own.
It is hard. It is so hard. It is incredibly hard to really be there for someone when your own heart is breaking. Trust me, I get it. In upcoming posts we’ll be looking more at that verse in Romans about rejoicing and weeping. It’s a tough one for sure.
We must extend grace. We must extend grace to the woman who got pregnant more quickly. After all, she is having a baby that she longed for and prayed for. And we must extend grace to the woman who has been trying for longer and who is hurting because of our seemingly smaller experience.