Throughout my journey with infertility & PCOS, I have been blessed with a handful of friends that have loved on me, given grace, felt empathy, and encouraged me with their friendship. These women have reached through the loneliness, shared my pain, and exemplified Christ with love—causing me to remember that God is always there, always knowing, and always providing. I admire them for their skills in noticing struggles and have learned from them the art of encouragement.
I am an open book when it comes to our struggles but I detest the spotlight. I have never sought out pity for my sadness. I never wished to be praised for my determination. I have never hoped to make anyone feel like they needed to share my burden.
So it truly is special when someone wants to step into your life and without overwhelming you, shares kindness through everyday life.
For so many people, myself included, encouragement can be scary. We don’t want to offend, serve as a reminder of struggles, or do too much—or too little.
It can be a tricky guessing game—every person is different and pain tends to bring out a whole other side of you. Not to mention, it’s really just difficult to understand the pain when you have never felt it yourself—making it scary, hard to relate, or difficult to think of ways to help. I’ve had times that I wanted to help but was afraid—in efforts to not aggravate the situation and make it worse—regretably, I stayed away.
But PCOS and infertility have seemingly become rampant and I’m betting that you know at least one person that is struggling with one or both of these situations. And with Mother’s Day just around the corner, I thought it would be a perfect time to share FIVE facts that I’ve learned by observing encouragement from my beautiful friends. Just below, I’m also throwing in FIVE simple, feasible ways that you can show love to a wannabe mother on this Mother’s Day (or any day).
FIVE FACTS ABOUT ENCOURAGEMENT
- A little means a lot. It doesn’t need to be a grand gesture. Ok, this might sound bad but don’t take it that way…we’re not expecting you to do something so anything will be a wonderful, meaningful surprise. We’re not looking for gifts or recognition. We’re just living our lives, doing our daily routine & dealing with things as they come up. So the fact that you’ve even noticed what is to us, normal, is HUGE.
- Just let us know that you’re there. Just letting us know that you thought of us, you’re there for us, and that you took the time to care (because we know that you’re busy with your own problems, too!) transcends far beyond anything that you can give or do. Just show up for your friend.
- You can’t really mess up. I think you’ll find that sad people are really nice and gracious, too. We appreciate all efforts, are super understanding if you say something awkward, and we’re easily blessed. After all, we’re just ecstatic to have such a good friend like you!
- Just because you did something nice once, doesn’t mean you have to keep doing it forever. I mean that’s totally up to you but realize we’re not expecting a life-long commitment of gifts and generosity. However, we do like friends—so it’s ok to check in every now and again just to chat.
- We’re all different but we all appreciate friends. Everyone reacts differently to sadness and hard times. We have different needs, different ways of coping, different personalities overall. But we all need somebody to help share the load. Whether it’s best friends since middle school or just an acquaintance at church. Whatever the level of involvement, you’ve already done so much just by offering to share a piece of the burden in your own unique way.
FIVE IDEAS FOR SHOWING ENCOURAGMENT
- Flowers. Handpicked, store-bought, potted—it really doesn’t matter. Flowers may seem “cliché” but think of it this way: on Mother’s Day, just about every Mom is going to receive flowers BUT not your friend, because she isn’t a Mom yet. She’ll feel silly for it but the lack of flowers will remind her of the baby she hasn’t been able to carry and the child she hasn’t been able to raise. Take it from personal experience–it’ll melt her heart to feel “included.”
- Gift Card for dining out/movie night with the spouse. Infertility can put a real strain on a couple—and their finances (Specialists aren’t cheap!). Even if they do have the money, give them an excuse to go out and get away from it all—consider it a date on you.
- PCOS/Infertility Necklace. One of my favorite gifts, given to me by my husband–was a pearl necklace. PCOS “cysts” can be known as pearls…it’s a little nicer than saying cysts. Hm, can’t imagine why! Anyway, there’s something sweet & empowering about owning your problems and turning it into something affirmative–like “you got this” and “keep going.” Amazon & Etsy have tons of PCOS/infertility themed bracelets and necklaces. One of my all-time favorites is this FAITH LIKE A MUSTARD SEED NECKLACE by SeededHope.
- Coffee Date. Perhaps the greatest gift of all, caffeine. No just kidding, it’s your time. And your willingness to sit together and listen OR chat about something else entirely to take our mind off of things.
- Card. Don’t think for one second that you have to actually give up a lot to do something meaningful–time or cash. I’m a big giver, I LOVE to give thoughtful & big gifts to a fault–so there have been times where I neglected to reach out simply because I was strapped for money or time at that moment. Wrong! I mean, how much do you love to receive a card in the mail? I’ve never thought of a card as a cop out–in fact, they’ve always made my day.
Hopefully, that gives you some inspiration to do some encouraging of your own whether it’s a friend struggling with infertility or something else entirely. Take it from me, you will be the highlight of their day simply because you showed up. XX Cheryl