Ministry and Infertility

When we first started trying to get pregnant I kept it a secret.  I had hoped it would happen easily and we would get to surprise everyone with our news. I also feared being on display if I wanted and waited for something that wasn’t happening.
With the encouragement of my wise friend Melissa Nugent, I realized it didn’t make sense to hide such a natural desire from my close friends and family.  That advice helped John and I navigate the years ahead of unmet desires, doctors appointments, test results, fears, and desperation.  We began to tell everyone.
With every passing year, we became more and more open about our desire to be parents.  We told the students in our ministry and the Bible studies we led.  Rarely in detail, but always with vulnerability.
Many hard days I wanted to hide…and eat a lot of cookies.  I didn’t know how to answer the questions.  I didn’t want people knowing more about my body than they did about their own. Having your heart break with many eyes watching is uncomfortable. And yet, I can look back and see the blessing of walking our fertility journey in the open. 
I led workshops about unmet expectations because it was what I knew. God was faithful to me in the darkest of days, and so I gave testimony to that. John and I posted prayer requests on a bulletin board at our spring conference because we wanted more people with us in prayer. Today, I’m humbled to hear of women impacted by my openness even when infertility was not their struggle. And to know students and staff that began praying impossibly for our family to grow. Allowing our heart to bleed before them in honesty and trust was helpful for their own journey and it brought them deeply into ours.
The biggest impact has been in my one-on-ones.  I have been aching much of the past 7 years so the women I meet with get a front row seat to what God is doing in my heart and future.  I have been blessed with girls who ask questions and really want to know my story (we know that is not always the case). Telling them has allowed walls to come down as they share their own fears with me.  And I have learned through this school of pain to weep with those who weep, to ask questions, to remember and to not be afraid of pain in someone’s life. 
Because we were so open with our pain there were many rejoicing with us when God wrote a new chapter in our story. Three years ago I found out I was pregnant.  God gave us a sweet gift in our daughter Lucille.  What a joy to have others join with you in gladness over a long awaited desire. 
Infertility is often a lonely and silent struggle and bares the deepest places of our hearts.  It is a very personal decision whether to share with others, and you may choose differently and that is OK.
As for the Tetens, we are waiting once more.  Asking God to grow our family yet again.  Tired of the weight of the decisions. Weary of the unknown.  But choosing to share with friends who will wait along with us…cookies in hand.
If someone you know is walking through infertility here are some ideas of how to come alongside them:

What to do . . .
   Ask questions.
   Pray for them.
What not to do . . .
   Hide your baby news from them.
   Avoid the topic.
What to say . . .
   I love you!
   I am praying for you.
   I am grieving with you.
   Can I bring you some cookies?
What not to say. . .
    It will all work out.
    Maybe its for the best.
    Have you tried ____, it worked for me?
    It will happen when you least expect it. 
    Joke or complain about how easily you conceive. 



Melissa joined staff ten years ago when she married her husband John.  They met in The Navigator ministry at Colorado State University.  Her and her husband were trained at the University of Florida in Gainesville and opened The Navigator work at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville in 2010.  Her husband now serves as Florida’s Regional Leader as well.  She has a two year old daughter named Lucille Jean.  Melissa loves craft coffee, visiting big cities, and as a Colorado native, counts living 15 minutes from the beach an unimaginable gift.

5 thoughts on “Ministry and Infertility

  1. Excellent! I'm so glad for your courage to be vulnerable with what used to be in my generation a taboo subject. No more pain all alone! Though He is with each one of us, He provided us with each other!


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