Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The beginning of healing ...

Have you heard of New Life Ministries?

They have an amazing set of services they offer. They are a group of professional therapists who have combined clinical knowledge with biblical wisdom, and they share it with anyone who needs it. Their mission statement is: "To identify and compassionately respond to the needs of those seeking healing and restoration through God's truth. "

My favorite ministry is their daily radio show, where they receive 4-6 phone calls a day allowing callers to ask "how should I handle this emotional difficulty ..." type of questions. Between all 6 therapists, they've written hundreds of books including the most famous book: Boundaries by Henry Cloud and John Townsend, and the ministry is led by Stephen Arterburn. They also offer a 24x7 counseling phone line (1-800-NEW-LIFE), if you find yourself in crisis or in need. Men can attend their Every Man's Battle workshops, for those struggling with sexual integrity. And this past weekend, I stepped out in courage to attend their weekend intensive conference, the New Life Weekend.

I have been wanting to do this conference for some time, but it was the first time it's come to my neck of the woods. I delayed booking my reservation, because I wasn't sure if I would be in Colorado, but when last Wednesday rolled around and I still hadn't ovulated or started AF, I decided that I could register. When I finally did register I was excited all day ... until I layed down in bed that night and it really began to sink in. "Oh dear, I'm going to have to be vulnerable with lots of strangers and I know that I will be challenged beyond my comfort zone ... oh geez, what the heck have I done??!?"

The conference format was unique in that there were about 5 main sessions with a very funny speaker, Stephen Arterburn. And the unique element to the conference was that in between each main seminar-like session, we broke out into small groups led by licensed clinical therapists, who led us in group therapy. In any New Life weekend there are many tracks you can choose from: dealing with anger, weight loss, fear/anxiety, getting unstuck, self worth, marriage, depression/grief, healing from infidelity ... the list goes on. Honestly, I could have registered for 8 different groups, so I decided to instead register for the "general" group ... which, perfect for me, was called "getting unstuck" ... as I feel very 'stuck' in this struggle with trying to have children. I have to tell you that I met the most amazing group of women. And although none of them had problems like mine, we all shared similar issues in grief - whether it was the loss of a relationship, a person, or a dream. We all needed to work on having a voice in our struggles and claiming our hurts, feelings, and opinions. We needed restoration in our sense of self. There was a lot of honesty, a lot of tears, and we even got to experience a little bit of laughter - it was so healing.

The end of the weekend culminated with the closing session where they asked you to speak if you felt led, and so in front of 300+ perfect strangers I shared. Here is what I said:

Before coming this weekend my life was on hold for over two years while my husband and I suffered through 4 consecutive miscarriages which pointed to a diagnosis of premature menopause. I had detached from my friends who couldn't understand and I had focused on trying to "do" everything I could think of to earn my way out of this with God.

This weekend has been painful. It is hard to hear that "God is sufficient" when I think of my inability to give my husband children. And I don't even like reading the phrase: "Embrace the realities of your life" because it forces me to consider that if things continue as they have in the past, I will not get one of Disney's famous fairytale endings.

I leave here today with: Validation - that I am a mother who has lost 4 children and working through that grief and the shattered dream of possibly never having children is something I cannot do alone.

I leave here today with: Encouragement - that God truly has a plan in this struggle and He has not abandoned me.

And a challenge - I leave here knowing that acceptance and surrender is a daily choice; to quote an old wise man (and I jovially pointed to the main speaker Stephen Arterburn ;-) ... pain and adversity are not optional, misery is.

When I finally got to see my husband after the three day conference he told me that I seemed like I was carrying a lighter load ... and I actually laughed and cracked jokes on the way home. I even reached out to friends to get together and connect soon ... and it wasn't out of obligation or because it was the "right" thing to do ... I just felt like I had been missing them, I could feel my heart needing them. It was a blessing. It was the beginning of my healing.


  1. That is awesome. I think we can all use some healing - those who don't face IF and those of us who do. What you said was awesome - thanks for sharing. Hugs always.

  2. From the start of your sentence, you had me at hello and I was in tears. I felt the pain and I can totally understand the need to heal.

    You are always an inspiration and even today, when I come to your blog, you lift my heart and you make me think, TODAY'S A BRAND NEW DAY.

    I'm always here for you just like you have been since the day you found me on infertile bloggyland.


    ps Glad you received it and you loved it.. I was beginning to think hmm..did I send it to the wrong address? I wrote the card after going to church and I went to church on a weekday, which is not very normal for me..I just needed to sit down and process my thoughts... :)

  3. Hi Polly,

    Yes, I have heard of Afterburn famously for Every Man's Battle. But I didn't know that NLM had all these other opportunities! Thanks again for introducing me to these - they sound interesting...

    Meanwhile, Jen at Blessed are the Barren wrote about these 6 losses she learned from The Infertility Companion: Hope and Help for Couples Facing Infertility (Christian Medical Association):
    1. Loss of control
    2. Loss of individual genetic continuity
    3. Loss of a jointly conceived child
    4. Loss of the pregnancy and birth experiences
    5. Loss of emotional gratification surrounding pregnancy and birth
    6. Loss of an opportunity to nurture and parent a new generation

    I think it does summarize what we sometimes fail to see as losses needing proper grieving. Am glad you took that opportunity...

    Have a safe trip to CCRM and keep us posted!

  4. Healing is such a process. Bravo on starting down the path. It's definitely not easy... but it's so healthy for those of us dealing with IF and loss. See you on Saturday!

  5. It feels good to exhale and find a bit of yourself again. Glad you felt able to do so.

    Love, E

  6. I am so sorry I missed this. What an incredible weekend.

    You are brave beyond words and what you shared with everyone there moved me to tears. I'm so glad you were able to find a way to start healing. Huge hugs.