Pray Both Sides
By Mary Bruno
One of the hardest things about being infertile is being surrounded by women who achieve pregnancy so easily. When my struggle was at its worst, I became very bitter and had to create some distance so that I could begin to heal and learn to love myself just as I am.
Time was healing.
Eventually, I formed a deep friendship with a woman who had the opposite struggle as me. She had two unplanned pregnancies, and it was her openness and attention to my suffering with infertility that gave me the freedom to dive into her pain as well.
This has given me great insight into and respect for the very real trials that women experience on the opposite end of the fertility spectrum from me.
As a permanently infertile young woman, it can still be very hard to relate to women who have many children. But I have to try. As real and understandable as my pain is, it is not the only thing that matters. I will never be able to identify with the woman juggling all of the responsibilities of a home, work, marriage and several mouths to feed, but my willingness to respect her perspective will promote growth in unity and love – and that will bear fruit.
This idea could not be more applicable to us now as we all try to navigate a heated and scary medical climate and health crisis that has already caused such division.
This is why I was greatly encouraged by a recent post from one of my favorite authors, Emily Stimpson Chapman, who encourages us to “pray both sides”
She states: “… if you find your heart full of rage, frustration, or confusion because of those who think and act in a way that you believe is wrong – deadly wrong – I want to encourage you to pray for those people. (The full column can be found at https://bit.ly/2Xo7o02.)
And by ‘pray’ I don’t mean pray to change their mind. Nor do I mean pray for a conversion of heart.
I mean pray for the problems of their heart. For their grief. For their fear. For their suffering. For their anxiety. Pray for God to console them and strengthen them. Pray for them to feel understood. Pray for them to feel not alone. Pray for their hearts to be flooded with peace and greater trust. Pray for God to protect them.”
It is easy to forget that there are human beings with valid experiences and feelings on any side of a debate, worthy of our consideration and our prayer. It is incredibly important to remember that life is hard for all of us and to never forget how to be compassionate, no matter what you believe.
I found Chapman’s words in “Harden Not Your Heart” to be a splash of fresh water over my own sizzling frustrations, a reminder that we are all a part of the same team; a reminder that we are all a part of the same team.
So, I implore you to do something that I promise to make a sincere effort to do as well. Don’t be quick to form conclusions. Move slowly. Pay attention. Listen to the heart of someone who disagrees with you. Don’t simply react to a person’s position, but pay attention to the fears, griefs, anxieties and sufferings that motivate them.
Pray for both sides.