As Mother’s Day quickly approaches, I find myself being more aware of my emotions than usual. The Mother’s Day – Father’s Day stretch is a killer for me. From cute Mother’s Day traditions to baby dedications at church, I am constantly on edge. For the past couple years I have silently ducked out on Mother’s Day, too overwhelmed to participate in the joy and happiness of my favorite families. My delightful husband would take me away for a weekend and I would process my grief in silence. I was struggling with how I wanted to handle this year’s holiday when someone sent me a message asking my opinion on an article posted in Christianity Today, titled Why the Church Needs the Infertile Couple. While I don’t claim to be a theologian by any stretch of the imagination (you all start using words like eschatology and my brain simply shuts down), this article certainly brought out strong opinions I didn’t know I had. I’d be more than happy to walk through my more detailed thoughts with you, but my overall response is this:
Yes, the Church needs infertile couples. But not because we are infertile. Not because we have more to teach the church than anyone else. Not because our pain has made us more holy, or our suffering has allowed us to experience the glory of God in a way no one else can. The Church needs infertile couples because infertile couples need the Church. We need the church to walk with us in pain and in hope. To speak truth into our lives while we navigate the daily struggles that come with laying down our expectations and accepting God’s plans. To learn from us and allow us to learn from you. Our pain is different than yours, but not more painful, more important or more valuable. We need the church in the same way you do. So why is it so hard for those of us struggling with infertility to be open about our struggles in a community that is rooted in support and love?
Because neither side knows what to do. Infertile couples don’t know how to ask for what we need, and our communities don’t know how to help for fear of hurting. While every couple may need something different, the truth is this: to support infertility is to walk the pain with us. To see it, acknowledge it, and accept it. I don’t know if anyone ever comes to terms with infertility. It’s uncomfortable and hard, and it never quite goes away. The temptation to shower us with positive words of future families and reminders of God’s special plans for us cannot outweigh the acknowledgment of the pain we feel.
But to my sweet friends walking the road of infertility, our diagnosis is not an excuse to isolate ourselves in angst or wallow in victimhood. In order for the Church to walk our pain with us, we have to be willing to share that pain. We have to be willing to hear Godly perspective and let them hold us accountable to our callings. We have to be open to sharing the darkest parts of us, and this can mean hearing the hurtful things people say, often more than the Godly words people say. It is so easy to sink into bitterness and assume no one understands us when, in reality, we haven’t given anyone the opportunity to try. We have to be open to letting the Lord work through other people in our lives.
It requires endless grace on both sides. Grace to the infertile couple as they struggle, and grace to the Church as they navigate how to offer support.
Does the Church need the infertile couple? Of course. Because it needs all of us, no matter what we’re walking through.
So you’ll see me next Sunday morning, Vineyard, still trying to claim my new “spot” in the worship center, celebrating those tiny humans along with all of you, asking for a little grace.
*Disclaimer: most infertile couples are aware of our options via medical intervention or fostering or adopting. What you may view as inaction in one of these areas could be something much deeper.
One of my favorite companies to follow on social media is Scarlet & Gold. Based out of Auburn, Alabama, these ladies run a business of beautiful home decorations, lifestyle pieces and clothing. This Mother’s Day they are running a campaign called Give Grace. This campaign is part of an effort to bring awareness to the hard side of Mother’s Day. Those who have lost mothers, lost children, are unable to have children, have wonderful children or are expecting. The idea is that we all need grace, both extended and received. Go check out their awesome products and mission statement, as well as their Mother’s Day campaign.