For those facing childlessness and infertility, Mother’s Day can be a painful time of year. Sheridan and Merryn Voysey have walked that road and their story, shared in the moving video below, is a source of encouragement and hope.
A Ten-Year Journey, Filled With Question Marks
When Sheridan and Merryn Voysey moved to Sydney in 2006, it was a time of hopeful new beginnings. Sheridan was a radio presenter and was launching a radio talk show called “Open House”, something he’d dreamed of for years, while Merryn would be able to start a new job—and seek specialist help to start a family.
Having already spent five years trying to fall pregnant, they were hopeful that a new city might provide the medical answers they needed to have a baby. For the next five years the couple tried by various methods to conceive; they also tried to adopt.
In A Journey Through Broken Dreams, a 30-minute documentary-style film recorded by the American TV show Day Of Discovery, Merryn says the battle against infertility was a difficult process most of the way.
Watch: ‘A Journey Through Broken Dreams’, condensed version.
“The surprising thing for me with going through this whole process was how burdensome hope can be at times,” she said.
“With every cycle, there’s a hope that it will be successful, with every cycle of IVF, or with every attempt to be pregnant, or to adopt or something. Every time you pray, you hope. And actually by the end of it I found the hope really burdensome—almost debilitating. In the end I couldn’t pray, because it was like I had no emotional energy left to hope anymore.”
Sadly in 2011, their dream came to a heartbreaking end when Merryn received the call telling her that their final attempt at IVF, had failed.
The couple had spent a decade on the bumpy road called infertility—and it seemed that God’s final answer was “no”.
In his book “Resurrection Year“, Sheridan describes the memory of his wife curling up on her bed, in the foetal position, grieving as her lifelong dream finally slipped away.
“At the end of that 10 years we were exhausted,” Sheridan told Day of Discovery. “There was a mixture of emotions: deep, deep grief, deep anger, always a little bit of guilt – because I’m the reason why she can’t have what she wants – a sense of spiritual failure, a sense of unfairness, and then a sense of helplessness.”
Facing The Future Without A Child
Wanting to find a way to start again, Merryn began looking to new beginnings. She wanted to follow her other dream: to live and work in Europe.
“Our five years in Sydney was a lot about starting a family, and I think I wanted to live somewhere else that wasn’t associated with that process,” she said.
For Sheridan the idea of moving overseas came as a blow because leaving Sydney would mean leaving his highly successful, national radio program. But his marriage came first and the couple, after spending some time travelling and seeking God for direction, settled in Oxford.
“My relationship with God had declined. I felt more and more distant. I doubted whether God was really loving.”
Merryn said she had to do a lot of work renewing her trust in God.
“My relationship with God had just declined over the years,” she said. “Getting no answer, or getting an answer which is ‘no’ from someone who is supposed to love you, does feel like that they’re not being loving. So that’s how I felt about God. There was just silence. And because of that I felt more and more distant.
“I think I found it hard to trust God because I had asked for something that…was a good thing to ask for. So then I doubted the character of God, whether he was really loving, whether he was really listening, whether he really cared. Trust was a big issue.”
She said her healing was gradual.
“In the end I came to accept the fact that I didn’t think God was mean in not answering our prayer the way we wanted it.”
Building A New Identity
Sheridan had a lot of healing to do, too; for him, it was finding a new sense of identity and letting go of comparison.
“I had these very ugly feelings arise in me, things that I felt about other people who had what I wanted,” he said. “Broken dreams start to pick away at your very being, because you cannot become the person you want to become. Wrapped up in a broken dream is a lost identity.
“I had to very quickly ask myself, ‘Sheridan, you’ve always taught that as Christians our primary identity is being children of God. Do you really believe that now?’ ”
Many things brought restoration for Sheridan, including a process of studying Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, which helped him build a new identity not on fame, success, or having a family—but on being a child of God. He writes about this experience in his book, Resilient.
There Is Hope Beyond Infertility
As a result of their experiences, Sheridan now does a lot of writing and speaking on broken dreams. He says the lessons he and his wife learnt can be applied to any kind of life disappointment, whether it’s infertility, the loss of a marriage, the death of a loved one, the failure of a career, or unwanted singleness.
He advises his listeners to not let their broken dream define them.
It’s not necessarily that we come out more triumphant or more victorious at the end. But we still hold onto a God who is huge, and bigger than us.
“You can know that you do not have a lot of answers for so many of these things, and you can have your faith deepened, and taken into a more mature sense of faith,” he said. “Which I think is what the Christian journey is all about. It’s not necessarily that we come out more triumphant or more victorious at the end. But we still hold onto a God who is huge, and bigger than us.”
Both Sheridan and Merryn have now found new kinds of fulfilment.
“I feel very blessed now,” Merryn said. “There might be one aspect of our life that hasn’t worked out the way we wanted it, and that was a difficult struggle. But there are so many other ways in which God has really blessed us.
“Just hearing that we came out the other side of that struggle and are OK, for some people just hearing that simple thing has been meaningful to them, to give them hope that they will also come out the other side and their life will be meaningful again—and they won’t be just always stuck in that disappointment and difficulty.”
Watch the full length documentary, A Journey Through Broken Dreams.