Coping with infertility is one of the most painful struggles in life. My husband and I are childless; we discovered we couldn’t have kids a few years after we married. It took a long time for me to fully accept the fact that I’ll never have a child.
It hurts, and sometimes I still feel pangs of sadness. It helps to know I’m not alone, though. I wrote Going Through Infertility With Sarah, and I also shared part of my story Growing Forward When You Can’t Go Back. In this article we’ll briefly explore what it means to revive your heart after it’s been broken by a disappointment or devastating loss.
This article—Renewing Your Heart With Hannah—goes hand-in-hand with the first chapter of my book Growing Forward When You Can’t Go Back. In Chapter Seven (Reviving Your Heart with Hannah), I share how different types of broken hearts are revived. Every chapter of my book has five Blossom Tips to help readers move through loss. And, every chapter ends with Blossom Questions for journaling and discussion. I invite readers to come here, to my She Blossoms blog, and share their thoughts. Whether or not you have a copy of Growing Forward, you’re welcome to share your thoughts on reviving a broken heart below.
Instead of a haven, our Biblical sister Hannah’s home was a hive of pain, mockery, and disunity. Worse, as we read in 1 Samuel 1, she couldn’t get pregnant after years of trying1.
Childlessness wasn’t just heartbreaking for women in those days, it was also socially stigmatizing. Infertility was a sign of dishonor, worthlessness, and future economic instability. Hebrew women had nothing to fall back on—no education, meaningful work outside the home, or even the possibility of pursuing other life dreams or goals.
Even worse, Hannah had to share her home with Peninnah, who was her husband Elkanah’s second wife. Peninnah had her own sons and daughters, and often goaded and provoked Hannah to tears.
Perhaps Peninnah was jealous and hurt because Elkanah gave Hannah double portions of sacrificial meat. He wanted to make Hannah happy, not understanding that his gifts couldn’t fill the emptiness in her heart.
“Hannah, why are you weeping?” Elkanah asked. “Why don’t you eat? Why are you downhearted? Don’t I mean more to you than ten sons?” Hannah reassured her husband that she loved him, but he couldn’t fill the emptiness in her spirit and soul.
Hannah was so depressed she couldn’t eat or stop crying. Nobody understood and nothing could comfort her. It was this suffering—Peninnah’s taunts, Elkannah’s inability to understand, and her own tormented heart—that drove Hannah to God. If her relationships were happy and her life perfect, she wouldn’t have collapsed at the Lord’s feet. And her heart wouldn’t have changed.
Hannah poured herself out to God, trusting that her cries would rise above the noisy din of grief, confusion, and fear. And you know what? God changed Hannah’s heart. I describe her experience in Growing Forward When You Can’t Go Back – and I offer practical tips to help you experience the same type of change.
How My Heart Changed – Laurie’s Story
Our hearts aren’t always set on relationships or families. For instance, my heart was set on being a writer; my first book was a city guide called Unveiling Vancouver. I pitched it to a dozen publishers and received a book contract! But the deal fell through because I moved to a different province in Canada. My heart was crushed, my self-esteem shattered.
My second book was Traveling Teens, Rocky Roads but it didn’t get published. My third was See Jane Soar, a book of life lessons from famous women. Amelia Earhart! Wangari Maathai! Coco Chanel! A New York City literary agent offered to represent me, but he couldn’t sell it to the first few publishers he tried so he dropped me as a client. Alas, another season of sadness and disappointment. I abandoned all hope of getting published, deciding that writing blog posts was good enough for me.
But it wasn’t good enough for God.
Ten years later on a California road trip with my husband and dogs, I found myself at a Christian writers conference.
I didn’t plan on meeting a literary agent, polishing my book proposal writing skills, or writing Growing Forward When You Can’t Go Back. Nor did I plan on signing a contract with a publishing house a couple of months later.
And yet, here we are. My first book is Growing Forward When You Can’t Go Back.
When getting published stopped being about me—my dreams, goals, identity—my books blossomed. I happily signed a contract to write this book, but I would have just as happily continued writing articles for my She Blossoms blogs.
My heart changed, and that changed everything.
How is your heart? What was your heart set on, and how has it been broken? What new season are you walking into? Share your big or little thoughts in the comments section below! Writing is healthy, especially if you feel confused, sad, scared or lost. It can help you make sense of your experiences and untangle your emotions.
Questions From Growing Forward When You Can’t Go Back
At the end of every chapter are Questions for Journaling and Discussion that are directly related to that chapter’s Blossom Tips. Readers are invited to come here and share their thoughts.
The questions in Hannah’s chapter:
- Vegas: How have you experienced God in times of turmoil, confusion, or chaos? What does it feel like to find stillness in the storm?
- Basket of Blossoms: If you have nobody to share a Basket of Blossoms with, recall a loved one. What memories would you include in their basket?
- Praying in Color: How do you feel about praying by drawing, painting, or sketching? What it the most creative way you’ve prayed?
- Memory Lane: When are you most likely to share memories with loved ones? Do you talk about good times, bad times, or both?
- Under the “B”: What people, places or things keep creeping onto the throne of your heart? How do you feel about a regular practice of setting your heart on God?
Feel free to answer these questions in the comments section below. Or, share anything that’s on your mind, about anything you’d like! It’s your space.
About Growing Forward…
Growing Forward When You Can’t Go Back offers a fresh, practical perspective on moving through loss. I share stories of contemporary and biblical women who transcended extraordinary pain and grief. I weave in my own experiences of growing up with a single schizophrenic mother, living in foster care, and then coping with infertility.
- Accept—and even embrace—a new season of life.
- Take small steps forward in practical, creative, delightful ways.
- Weave faith, trust, and hope into your heart, thoughts, and daily lives.
At the end you’ll have 50 Blossom Tips for moving forward after a loss. Each activity highlights a different aspect of who we are: spirit, heart, soul, body, and brain. This holistic approach ensures the whole self is addressed by incorporating spiritual, emotional, creative, physical, and intellectual growth.
Growing Forward When You Can’t Go Back is a comforting, encouraging book for women walking into a new season of life…which also makes it a great gift for women coping with death, divorce, or a difficult diagnosis.
In peace and passion,
P.S. Here’s the full list of Growing Forward articles here on “She Blossoms.” These aren’t the actual chapters of the book, they’re just our meeting places.
- Recreating and Replanting With Eve
- Sprouting With Sarah
- Digging Deeper With Hagar
- Uprooting With Naomi
- Starting Fresh With Ruth
- Growing Roots With Martha and Mary
- Reviving Your Heart With Hannah
- Renewing Your Purpose With Esther
- Growing Forward With Mary Magdalene
- Blossoming Into Life With Mary