Not So Helpful Comments: You will have a baby. Just believe.

by Brandi Lytle
Photo of a woman holding a sweater over her mouth on Not So Helpful Comments: You will have a baby. Just believe, on Not So Mommy..., a childless blog
Trigger Warning:  A real, honest, raw talk about loss, grief, cancer, infertility, and childlessness

Before I begin today’s “Not So Helpful: Things You Shouldn’t Say to the Childless” post, I want to take a moment to thank you for allowing me to have a brief break from this series.

After my Grandad and best friend of 37 years passed away within one week of each other, I needed a moment.  A moment to prepare for another trip to Oklahoma, a moment to process that I had lost two important people in my life, a moment to focus on supporting my friends and family, a moment to allow myself to grieve.

And you graciously gave me that time, telling me I deserved it, reminding me that I was not being selfish, and sending me your support (many in the way of purple hearts).  It is impossible for me to fully express in words what this meant to me.  You, fabulous ones, epitomized what you should say, how you should act when someone is going through a difficult time…  And I thank you.

Getting back to the “Not So Helpful” Series…

As I began to get back to Not So Mommy…, I looked at my editorial calendar and realized that this week, I wanted to write about “Just believe.”  How completely fitting, I thought…

Anyone who has suffered a loss knows that the pain can be overwhelming, filling your being with such an intense ache that the only release is to cry.  Sometimes, silent tears rolling down your cheeks are enough to alleviate the pressure.  But at other times, the pain is so strong that the tears aren’t enough…  Sobbing, shaking, groaning are the only ways to release such a penetrating hurt.

I haven’t felt such powerful sadness in a long time.  Remembering the ache from our trying to conceive days, I can picture myself sobbing on the bathroom floor.  But nothing had brought me to my knees in many years.  Until I received news that my best friend had gone to Heaven.  I was so overtaken so quickly with such a flood of grief that I gripped the side of the table to try to remain standing.  Tears streamed down my face as my entire body shook.  It took too much energy to remain on my feet, so I sunk to the floor.  My husband came in, extremely worried about why I was in such a state.  I could barely tell him the reason.  He sat on the floor with me, holding me, and letting me cry—a loud cry, an ugly cry, the first of many cries to come…

As I have begun to process my emotions (albeit only a little), I realized that I am feeling what many childless not by choice are currently feeling—a deep sorrow, an unbearable anguish, the torture of something you want to change but simply cannot.

Just believe . . .

And as you try to come to terms with this heartache, the words, “You will have a baby.  Just believe…”  Well, to call them not so helpful is an understatement.

My beautiful friend…

When my friend was first diagnosed with breast cancer, she was telling some of us how unfair this was, questioning why God would allow it.  And someone commented, “But you believe in Him, right?  You know He can heal you?”  Jennifer looked a bit perturbed and sighed, “Well, yes.”  I stepped in and said, “Of course she knows that God can heal her.  But it’s okay for her to tell Him that she’s upset and angry about all of this.  It sucks!  It’s unfair!  And He can handle hearing her truth.”

The childless not by choice…

For the childless not by choice, I think that’s what we want the world to understand.  It’s okay for us to say our situation sucks.  It’s okay for us to complain and question and wonder why.  For childless Christians, it’s even okay to question why God would allow this to happen to us…

Please, don’t tell us that we should “just believe.”  I mean, honestly, if your advice starts with “just,” then just don’t say it!  Just adopt, just relax, just believe…  Um, not so helpful.

Childless Christians…

For those of us who believe in God, telling us to “just believe” is like a knife in the heart.  I’m not exaggerating here.  Those words cause our pain to intensify, as we wonder if we don’t have enough faith, if we aren’t praying enough, if we don’t really believe that He can do the impossible…

Never mind that it is a ridiculously difficult balancing act, trying to have enough faith and trust that we really can have the baby our heart desires while also not getting our hopes too high in case it doesn’t work out because we don’t want to be completely devastated.  It’s exhausting.

And just when we feel like we’ve finally discovered the perfect balance, someone pops up and cheerfully says, “I know you’ll have a baby.  Just believe!”

Well crap.  Guess I haven’t found the perfect balance and I’d better up my “belief meter.”

You will have a baby . . .

But wait a minute.  How do you know I’ll have a baby?  Medical professionals have given me no guarantee.  Adoption specialists have not promised that I will definitely be chosen by a birth mom.  And God has not spoken to me, saying that He will for sure allow me to have a child.  So, how the heck do you know I’ll have a baby?!

You know, my friend had every faith that God could heal her because He is the Great Physician.  She talked about Him, prayed to Him, and asked others to pray on her behalf.  She believed.  And yet, she was realistic that He might not answer our prayers—at least, not this side of Heaven.  She didn’t like that she might not get the outcome she desired, but she accepted that it was a possibility.

And I would have never, never said to her, “I know you will be healed.  Just believe!”  That would have been so completely rude and inconsiderate.

No matter the struggle . . .

Cancer and infertility / childlessness are very different things.  In no way do I want to compare the struggle that my beautiful friend endured with my own struggle.  To be honest, I believe that my infertility and childless journey pale in comparison to the battle she fought.  I only wish to say that no matter the trial a person is facing—whether it is a huge, potentially life-altering fight or what you see as a more minor scuffle—don’t tell the person laboring to get through it that you know it will be okay and they simply need believe.  Truly, it’s just not so helpful.


If anything I wrote resonates with you, fabulous one, I’d love to hear from you in the comments…


Some other blogs you might find helpful…  Click the image to read.


Photo of a woman holding her sweater over her mouth on Not So Helpful: Just Adopt on Things You Shouldn't Say to the Childless Series on Not So Mommy...

Photo of a woman covering her mouth with her sweater on "Not So Helpful Advice: Just Relax" on Not So Mommy..., a childless blog

Photo of a purple leaf with raindrops on it on Finding joy in the midst of grief...; a uniquely me, good things blog on Not So Mommy..., a childless blog


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Lexy129 October 6, 2018 - 2:44 am

Yes, but what you haven’t mentioned here is what those words “just believe”, “think positive” etc which are sprinkled all over cancer and infertility experiences is the Enormous and long lasted no effect on the person. Aas not only bewilderment of not being able to control the experiences but I found the horrible burden of putting yet more responsibility and blame on myself when all my “believeing” “positive thinking” did not materielise in protecting me from cancer or infertility. The words for me just came back around on myself and compounded my sense of failure and lack of ability to think positively or “believe” correctly. I was not positive enough. I didn’t believe enough. It’s was ME all along! And those thoughts ring and ring in my ears long afterwards as pick over my actions and wonder ..”did I not believe properly” and that is the cruelest tunnel of all. And one I fight to get out of on my less good days. And so much of that was planted deeper in there by genuinely innocent and well meaning comments from others. One thing my older sister said to me once really helped…you might want to wish you can fly and stand on a wall ready to jump but no amount of positive thinking or self belief will make you grow actual wings that will spread out and help you fly if you jump off. And that not because you didn’t wish it enough. But thinking about being able to fly and approaching it from different angles and kindly over time you might think of other ways to have that experience or reach that goal in other ways. I hope that makes sense. Xx

Brandi Lytle October 6, 2018 - 9:37 am

Thank you for your beautiful response, which definitely caused me to stop and think. I agree that these “innocent comments” often cause us to question even more our faith, positive thinking, belief, etc. I have mentioned this in previous posts during this “Not So Helpful” Series. I’m grateful that you mentioned it again here.

I do love your sister’s explanation. I’m certain your comment and her example will help others who read this post. Your willingness to be vulnerable and share part of your experience is appreciated more than I can say in words…

Lots and lots of hugs!

Sherry Stout October 3, 2018 - 4:03 pm

I pray that I never said not so helpful things during your struggle or anyone else’s. I surely know now to think and process before speaking; a hard lesson learned through life’s troubles.?

Brandi Lytle October 4, 2018 - 10:31 am

There have been two people on my journey who were always great listeners, super empathetic, and never said anything to make me feel less than–you and Jenno. I feel beyond blessed that God gave me such tangible support during our infertility battle and acceptance of childlessness…


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