May 11, 2014

-image-oh, stuff about mother’s day and the church

Last year during Mother’s Day week, I found a blog post about Mother’s Day and the church and what the church should do about this day. There were over 1,000 comments and there’s no way I could read them all, but as a childless woman who finds this day hard and who avoids church every year on this day, I was struck by a recurring theme in a fair portion of the comments:

The childless women’s comments were frequently countered with “Well, yeah, you’re sad on this day but you’re supposed to rejoice with those who rejoice, the Bible says.”

You know, I love it when people use only half a verse to make their point or take a verse out of context entirely because, yes, we are supposed to rejoice with those who rejoice BUT – as the verse goes on to say – we are to mourn with those who mourn.

As it relates to the childless, when does the church do that, publicly? When does it mourn with other mourners – publicly? If the church is going to publicly rejoice with moms, then by extension, if it’s going to live out this verse, it should publicly mourn with the non-moms, but it doesn’t, or at least I’ve never seen a church that does. To be fair, I think it doesn’t because it just doesn’t know how. (I have some ideas, actually, because I know this road intimately.)

The church acknowledges moms a lot. They’re not forgotten. It’s not hard to find support and friends with that common bond, is it? Mothers are everywhere in the church, so they can’t possibly feel ignored, generally, in the church. There are lots of programs, lots of women walking a similar road, lots of moms with whom to commiserate, so to my eyes, there’s no lack of company. I’m not saying that moms can’t feel alone sometimes; I’m saying the state of motherhood is certainly not ignored in the church at large.

But, frankly, I don’t think it’s the church’s job to celebrate moms. It’s the job of the individual families to celebrate their own moms. I think the church should leave this manmade Hallmark holiday to the culture at large and keep it out of the church entirely. Enough with the mom sermons on Mother’s Day (and enough with the dad sermons on Father’s Day). Enough with the flowers it gives to moms one year and enough with the flowers it gives to all women the next year so no one feels left out. (I’m not stupid. I know I’m not a mom. A flower doesn’t fix it and it’s just awkward and pandering. In the past I said “no, thank you” to those flowers.)

But back to the post I mentioned at the beginning of my tirade. You know, I was also struck by just how many Christian moms commented that they want to be asked to stand in church on Mother’s Day and that they want to be acknowledged and applauded by the entire church. Why? Why are moms entitled to acknowledgement from the entire church? Several women gave the rationale that it’s no different from Veteran’s Day when veterans are asked to stand.

And … then I had to comment. First calm down and then comment.

Because, no, it’s not like Veteran’s Day at all. When veterans are asked to stand on their day, they have served EVERYONE in that church in their service to our country. Moms don’t serve the entire church. They serve on a much smaller but no less vital front: their own home. Expecting honor from people you don’t serve in your capacity as mom is expecting honor that you’re not entitled to. If I were a mom, I’d care much more about things like a scribbled homemade card that says “I love you, mommy,” burnt toast and runny eggs, a sloppy mani-pedi, or a bouquet of random flowers from my yard than any polite applause from people in church who don’t even know what kind of mom I am. Who cares about that? And if a person does care about that, I think they have to ask themselves why.

Maybe moms want to feel like heroes for a little while. I can understand that, but, again, they’re heroes to the family they serve, not the church at large. No, it’s not on the same scale size-wise, but isn’t it much more meaningful?

And about that standing acknowledgement, can I be blunt – or more blunt? The only thing that separates a mom from a non-mom is that all the male-female parts worked correctly and in a timely fashion. The “standing mom” acknowledgement that some churches employ is for the physical fact of being a mom. It isn’t a judgment nor is it an endorsement. It’s not saying “these women are all great moms”; it’s saying “these women are all moms.”

At its core, it’s really a physiological difference that separates a mom from a non-mom, but the church doesn’t do other such acknowledgements and celebrations based on physiological differences, does it? You don’t hear “Stand up if you don’t have diabetes.” “Stand up if you can see.” “Stand up if you don’t have ED.” “Stand up if you can stand up.”

Absurd, right?

I stay away from church on Mother’s Day. I have for years and I don’t see that ever changing – for the rest of my life. I won’t go. In my house, it’s called “Tracey Day” and I get spoiled rotten. That’s how I cope and how I will always cope with this manufactured, exclusionary day.

But would Mother’s Day really be diminished for Christian moms if the church didn’t acknowledge it? Would the Christian mom feel gypped if there weren’t flowers passed out, sermons preached, applause offered? There are plenty of non-Christian moms who don’t get applauded by a roomful of people on that day, so are their Mother’s Days qualitatively worse for the lack of it? I rather doubt it.

I just looked this up: Mother’s Day was established as a holiday 100 years ago – in 1914.

So I’m just wondering.

If this were 1913, what would Christian moms do?

June 14, 2010

-image-so ….. you’re pregnant: a guide to telling your childless loved one the news

I found out on Friday I’m going to be an aunt again. The Banshees will have a little brother or sister. While I know I will eventually be happy to have a new nephew or niece, the day that news comes is always hard. Friday was hard. Bittersweet and sobby. The separation I feel from the rest of society is never more pronounced than at the precise moment that news is shared. A few people got delightful spewing emails from me that I’m sure only cemented me in their hearts as a source of real joy and sunshine. So that was Friday. Today is better.

Over the years, I’ve had people tell me they’re pregnant many many many times. Family, friends. And over the years, based on these experiences, good and bad, I’ve developed some pretty set ideas about what to say/what not to say when you’re announcing your pregnancy to a childless (not by choice) woman. Some of these might carry over for a single woman or, really, to any woman who has experienced grief and longing in this area. These are based on my personal reactions to various approaches, obviously, but I hope there is a carryover for other women as well.

Let’s walk through it. You find out you’re pregnant. You need to tell Betty, a childless friend/relative who you know struggles with that reality.

~ First, understand Betty is happy for you, most likely. Unless you’re some kind of ass-y, bitchy figure in her life, she IS happy for you. It’s just that in that moment, she is so so SAD for herself. Please understand. Betty’s sorrow is heavy and should be respected. It weighs much much more than your joy. I’m sorry. It’s just true. It’s a lifetime sorrow. Try to understand that fact going into your announcement. If you’re the praying type, ask for divine sensitivity. I ain’t kidding with that.

~ Do try not to be a douchebag. If you’re normally a douche, pray that God will give you 5 minutes of non-douche to break through your usual loathesome persona. If it works, perhaps Betty will never like you more than she does in those 5 minutes. Handle it well, and she may say, “Wow. Slappy was briefly so much less repugnant.” Really, it could be your chance to gain some sensitivity points.

~ Consider asking yourself: Am I the right person to tell Betty? That might sound weird, but maybe Betty would take the news better if it came to her indirectly. For instance, if you know Betty’s husband or your husband knows the husband, perhaps you can share the news with Betty’s husband and he can tell Betty. It may very well be easier for Betty to hear it privately from her husband. She won’t feel on the spot to have just the right cheery reaction for you. She can cry if she wants or needs to. (Assuming the relationship with hubby is good and she feels free to be herself.) If not a husband, perhaps someone closer to her than you are can deliver the news to Betty. Tell the intermediary to say, “Polly Pregnant thought it might be easier to hear it from me.” This makes you sound sensitive, you see. If you’re Betty’s best friend, I assume you’d know her well enough to know just how to announce this news.

~ Another approach is an email. Write the news briefly. Don’t apologize for being pregnant. That sounds disingenuous. Please.

~ Do acknowledge — no matter which venue you choose — that you know it might be hard for her, but that you love her, that you can’t wait for your new little one to know her. Stuff like that. Betty needs to be soothed in that moment, so take ONE moment out of your months of nesting and expectant bliss to make it about another person who has not been blessed in this area. That one moment can go a long way in your relationship — in either a positive or negative direction. STRIVE to make it positive.

~ In both of the above scenarios — the indirect approach, the email approach — the goal is to allow Betty the dignity of a private response. She’s not on the phone with you, trying to hide the choke in her voice, which is what happened to me on Friday. You’re not in her face where it’s even harder for her to hide that she’s struggling. She loves you, okay, but DAMN, she’s just struggling. Don’t make her pain worse. Don’t humiliate her with your expectations that she will smile and laugh and jump up and down.

~ Don’t talk about how excited you are in that moment. That’s a given. Betty knows that. There are others you can share your excitement with.

~ Don’t pee on the stick, get the results, and immediately call Betty. You’re too excited. I mean, good grief, call your husband or someone you KNOW will be as excited as you are. You need to be more measured if you’re going to approach Betty in person or on the phone, okay? Calm down before you contact her.

~ Don’t mention God. Do not. I don’t care if Betty is a fellow believer. Do not do it. Telling Betty what God did for you to get you pregnant is no freaking bueno, okay? The news on Friday came with “Well, we were undecided about trying for a third, but I guess God decided it for us.” No. No. No. I started to crack into pieces. Not good. This is not to say that God isn’t involved in getting people pregnant. This IS to say that now is not the time to mention him. If you do decide to go douche and mention him, just know that Betty will feel that God does not love HER as much as he loves YOU which makes no sense to her because, uhm, you’re such a douche.

~ Okay. So today is only a little bit better.

~ Don’t say, “Oh, this was totally a whoops/accident/surprise.” This is another moment from Friday, but I’ve heard it from others, too. Seriously. Don’t say it. Just how badly do you want to destroy this person you allegedly love with your news? She’s struggling with childlessness and you’re pregnant with an easy “whoops”? Are you made of stone?

~ Again, understand that you will need to think through what you say. It’s only seconds/moments for you, but Betty, unfortunately, will never forget how you tell her the news. She wishes she could forget it, but ….. she can’t. Think, think, think.

~ For the love of God, don’t bitch along these lines: money’s tight, the timing’s bad, I don’t want to get fat, I’m getting too old to be a new mom/dad (if the baby daddy, i.e. Betty’s brother, is delivering the news to Betty), blahdie blah blah. Basically, don’t bitch to Betty about your expectant worries. She’d be thrilled to have your worries. Again, there are others you can share your anxieties with.

~ Another thought: It might not be a bad idea to wait until you’re past the first trimester to tell Betty. Many people choose to wait until then to announce their pregnancy anyway, but the benefit to Betty is, frankly, she doesn’t have to sit with the information for so long. Do that, and there are 6 as opposed to nearly 9 months of knowing about your pregnancy and having to put on a happy face. The idea should be to minimize her pain in whatever area you can. This is one of them.

~ On the other hand, a friend told me she was pregnant several months ago and told me I was the first one she told, even before her family. THAT made me feel special. It was the opposite of the thought above, yes, but it was done with so much love and with an added level of “I think you are special. I set you aside to be the first person I told.” I’m tearing up now just thinking about that. (Thank you, sarahk.)

~ If Betty and her husband are still in trying-to-conceive mode, don’t say, “I’m sure it’s gonna happen for youuu” or some other variation of this theme. Betty hates that.

~ MEN: If you cheated on your wife with a stripper and wooed her into bed several months later, getting her pregnant with your stripper-cheatin’ sperm, don’t tell Betty, “Phhew. Guess I get to stay married now. It’s like a resurrection baby or something.” Betty will kill you and the jury will acquit her. Okay. Hm. That’s a really specific scenario. (But, yes. I actually had a man say this to me. Husband of a woman I knew.)

~ But on that note, less specific, is this: Don’t go around proclaiming that this baby has some kind of spiritual symbolism in your life — not to Betty anyway. Perhaps you believe that’s true. Honestly, I really don’t care, and neither does Betty. I mean, great. It’s the “resurrection baby” or whatever, but time and place, peaches. Time and place. You don’t have to share everything. Beyond that, placing some kind of symbolism onto the conception of this child is a LOT of pressure for that baby. Sheesh.

~ The best announcement comes from someone who can imagine, however briefly, what it’s like in Betty’s shoes. Someone with empathy. If you don’t have that, well, you probably don’t know you don’t have that because you don’t have that, so that’s a problem. Unfortunately, you’ll run Betty over with the information without thinking and leave her flattened and sobbing and then wonder why you don’t hear from her for months. So if you announce your pregnancy to a childless woman like Betty and you don’t hear from her for months afterward, guess what? You’re probably a callous douche. Take the very broad hint. Don’t get mad at Betty. Don’t sit around pouting, “That beyotch Betty. How come she doesn’t want to hear about my barfing/swelling/cravings?” Becauuuse ….. you screwed it up, that’s why. Pick up the phone and talk to her about it. Apologize for being a cow if you need to, and take that as a lesson that you need more empathy. Tell yourself you’ll do better next time and DO BETTER NEXT TIME. Or, alternatively, have your tubes tied, your wee wee snipped, so you don’t have to announce a pregnancy badly ever again.

~ Think of a way to show Betty some extra love. You’re being hugely blessed with something that she desperately wants. Maybe …. oh, call her a few days later and ask her to lunch. (And talk about things other than the baby, unless she asks.) Send her a book you know she’ll love. Get her a gift card for her favorite store. Don’t do it right at that moment. Don’t say, “I’m pregnant, and since I knew this would be hard for you, here’s a gift card to Pottery Barn.” No, you weenie. Don’t do THAT. Wait a few weeks or so. You just want to express your love for her, okay? Especially if she’s been gracious about your news. Let me tell you, that took something out of her. It cost her something, that graciousness. So think of some way to celebrate how much you love her with some small kindness on your end. She IS going to love your baby, and that will cost her something too. She’ll never tell you directly; no, she won’t. She’ll love your baby and play with your baby and she will cry on the way home after seeing your baby. Because she loves you and your baby. Understand that it costs her things she will never tell you and celebrate that you have such a friend.

January 29, 2010

-image-shame

I saw her standing in the express line at the grocery store. A woman I had taught with several years ago. Back then, she and her husband were struggling with infertility, and she was always open about that. MB and I were struggling with it, too, and I was never open about that. Never. Not with anyone outside the people I called my “hand people,” meaning, they fit on one hand, the number of people in real life I shared this with. If you weren’t one of my hand people, I talked to you, sure, but only through a small hole in the wall I built around myself. Most of me was hidden away, armored, silent. Too many people just aren’t safe. Emotionally safe. Women, especially, aren’t safe — not on this issue. Too many times in my life I’ve seen the smug gleam of schadenfreude in the narrowed eyes of some nosy woman. Not my hand people, no, never, but random women full of “good intentions” or “godly curiosity.” Those women got nothing from me. Or if they got anything from me, it was flat rudeness and they never spoke to me again which, to be honest, was my goal. I knew how I knew how I knew the caring from the curious, the real from the fake. I still do. It’s a discernment that serves me and cloaks me and frustrates people who deserve to be frustrated. I have no guilt over it. If social marauders have no guilt about trying to breach the tall towers of my life, I have no guilt over defending them.

Still, even though she wasn’t one of my hand people, I liked this woman. Her voice had a disarming baby doll squeak and her smile would go all crinkly-eyed at the corners. It was impossible to see that and not smile back. She talked about their infertility struggles to anyone who would listen. The other teachers listened impassively. I listened intently and tried to seem as detached as the others really were. I was desperate not to give myself away. A couple of times a week, she’d stand in the teachers’ lounge and share with me while I busied myself. I’d nod and shuffle some papers. Glance at her and make some copies. Furrow my brow with her and check my inbox. Anything to distance her plight from mine. Her outcome will not be mine. Her outcome will not be mine. I didn’t want to seem rude, but I didn’t want to seem vulnerable either. I needed to seem vague because it was all too specific. I needed to seem detached because it was all too consequential. I had to. Survival mode. Of course, at some point, this woman asked about us. Women do. It’s just what they do. “Do you want kids?” she asked one day while I stapled papers that didn’t need stapling. “Oh, yeah,” the smooth stone fell from my lips, “I’d love to have kids some day.” If I focused just so on these papers that didn’t need stapling, I could pull it off. Don’t look at her. Do not look at her. Because your face, your naked face, will give it all away. I tugged at a crooked staple and smiled sideways at her, clutching the side of the table, waiting for the searing limbic burn to fade away so I could breathe again. She just smiled her crinkly-eyed smile and said, “Oh, good. You’d be a great mom.”

She never knew.

Some people have basic boundaries. Some have high stone walls.

She may have suspected, but she never knew.

She never knew that we were trying and failing and trying and failing and trying and failing. She never knew that I cried myself to sleep and that I cried myself awake; that I had dreams where I had babies, lots of babies, pink chubby babies. She never knew that even waking up at all was a kind of torture for me. She never knew that I could not bear the sight of any pregnant woman anywhere, even the ones I called friend. Even the ones I called sister. She never knew how many times I sat alone on the edge of our bed loading and unloading my gun. Such pretty little bullets. Tiny silver teeth. I wouldn’t feel a thing. She never knew how one night, in a small voice, I finally told MB to hide my gun far far away from me. She never knew how that man, my mountain, jumped up, white, frantic, so fast, to do as I asked. She never knew any of this because I could not tell her. I just could not. The towers were tall, more stones every day. She never knew how much I understood. She never knew how much I wanted to hug her and lie and say it would all be okay. She never knew how much I wanted her to hug me and lie and say it would all be okay. I listened behind my high stone walls and marveled at her ability to tell anyone who would listen about their struggles. I could never decide if I marveled because I thought it was admirable or if I marveled because I thought it was stupid. To this day, I can’t decide. I just don’t know.

So I saw her standing in the express line at the grocery store, this woman. I know she saw me too, standing in a line several feet away. Our eyes flashed on each other a split second and then we looked away. She stood over there, childless, and I stood over here, childless. Perhaps you could say she had children at home. But I say you recognize your own. You just do. We looked at each other and we looked away and I knew how I knew how I knew the look of emptiness and longing in her eyes mirrored my very own.

You look away out of respect. You look away out of shame.

I stood there still and silent in my tower until the cashier shook me out of it.

“Have a nice day now.”

August 28, 2009

-image-dad on my mind

This is a re-post of something I wrote in 2005. I’ve reworked it slightly because it was originally part of a meme someone tagged me with containing a series of questions about my life. I think this was in response to the question: What was your life like 5 years ago?

I post it again now. My dad is on my mind.

*******************

Five years ago …..

Oh, no. Must I remember?

Having undergone some past fertility treatments, we began a brand new series, certain that these, finally, would work. They did not. Each month felt like a death that kept on dying. Hope and crushing, hope and crushing. I don’t even know the person I was then. I felt utterly lost to myself. My family never spoke of it to me; to them, it was too shameful to mention, so they simply didn’t. And the heavy, lingering sorrow that had stolen my hopes seemed to have taken my voice with it. I could not bring it up. I could not give voice to the shame, breathe out what was being carefully ignored. It’s inexplicable and probably unhealthy, this dynamic, but it’s there. MB and I were bereft and crazy and hopeless.

In the midst of these failed treatments, my sister got pregnant. She had two boys and had always longed for a girl. So had I, secretly.

And … a girl it was.

I remember the day my sister called to tell me she was having a girl. I heard her voice on the answering machine and somehow knew exactly why she was calling, exactly what she was going to say, and I could not bring myself to pick up the phone. I stood inches from it, my hand dutifully out, but paused in midair. From where I was, far from her, I could see her joy; I could see it. The very air swirled pink and perfect with the news of a girl. And I, with my selfish sorrow and small heart, sunk to the floor and cried and cried, the ugly cry that no one but God ever sees you cry.

Around this time, my longtime bachelor brother finally got engaged. There were echoing choruses of “Hallelujah!” all around at this news. Even I could manage that one. My family fairly exploded with the sheer elation of it all. A new baby girl, a wedding in the works. It was like a year of Christmas where every gift is perfect; a year of parties with everyone you like and no one you don’t.

But MB and I still went, quietly, to our treatments. And still, quietly, they failed. I was breaking in two from the overwhelming weight of joy and sorrow.

One day that year, my dad called to invite me to lunch. We met at Marie Callendar’s because he likes Marie Callendar’s and when he’s at Marie Callendar’s, he likes to order soup, which he did.

As we chitchatted about this and that, I was growing more and more nervous. He was working up to say something, I could tell, but I hadn’t the faintest idea what it would be. He’s not the demonstrative type. Emotions are private, you see.

He cleared his throat several times, in that compulsive way he has. I knew then he was nervous, too. Finally, he looked at me with those dark blue-grey eyes and said:

“I know your brother’s and sister’s happiness must be breaking your heart.”

I couldn’t breathe. I had ordered soup, too, in silent solidarity, and I saw my tears dropping onto its surface. Then with a choked voice I’d never quite heard before, he whispered:

“I’m so sorry, honey.”

And I was gone. Tears streamed onto the table; heads around us turned. I was quiet, but I was just gone. My father, who had never, ever spoken to me about it, understood.

He understood.

And he had said all he could. He mentioned it once and then never again. Still, in that singular moment, I felt no longer invisible; I was seen. I felt warm and alive and understood by someone I was sure did not, could not, understand.

I know they were just two sentences spoken softly over bowls of steaming soup, but they were among the best things my dad has ever said to me.

I was less broken for hearing them.

July 9, 2009

-image-“big on children”

The following is a transcript of a spot I heard on the radio the other day, not a Christian radio station, but, yes, a more conservative radio station that has basically one talk show that I can tolerate, that isn’t too shrill or positional or self-righteous.

This was during the commercial break, a moment called “Family Life Today” or something, hosted by self-satisfied Christian author, Dennis Rainey. Hm. How to describe him? I mean, beyond “self-satisfied”? Okay. Well, if you know who James Dobson is, this guy is a James Dobson Lite or James Dobson wannabe. I’m not a fan, although I probably have a Bible study or book of his lying around the house simply because someone else gave it to me.

Still, I listened to this spot and could not believe what I was hearing. I was so enraged by the whole thing, I sent Mr. Rainey an email, which I’ve included at the bottom here. Yes, I dashed it off impulsively and probably should have calmed down some before I sent it, but, well, I just didn’t. Honestly, I think the man needs to be taken to task for this. Just not okay, in my opinion. And I really don’t care who you are in the “Christian community” or how impressed I’m supposed to be by your credentials, gracelessness is gracelessness.

Here’s the transcript — my email follows:

Dennis Rainey: You know, we hear a lot of negative things about children today. But are they really so bad?

Guest: When my wife and I first married, we had decided we wanted one child. That was it. No more. And as we pressed into God and came alive to Him, we realized He wanted more children for us, and that was a HUGE step of faith for us…to move forward on having more children. And we did, and it’s been great!

Dennis Rainey: A few years back, the Dallas Morning News ran an essay contest on “Why You Have Chosen To Have Kids.” It ran a separate contest for those who had chosen not to have kids. The winning couple, with five children, was awarded a night out at one of Dallas’s finest restaurants. They even gave them a babysitter. I’m sure they had one of the best evenings of their lives.

Then there was the couple who had chosen not to have kids. The Dallas Morning News had a picture of them …with their cats! They felt like cats were easier to raise than children. Know what their prize was? It was an evening out … at a family restaurant! Talk about justice!

One final thought. Did you know that God is all about children? He loves children. In fact, the question is, how many children does He want you to have?

I’m Dennis Rainey and I’m big on children, too.

*********

Mr. Rainey,

I heard this on the radio today and had to come look at the transcript because I simply could not believe my ears. My husband and I do not have children — no, we’ve suffered through years of infertility instead — and have encountered almost nothing but this kind of prejudice from within the church.

The Church.

Christ’s hands on earth.

The same hands that have ostracized and judged us, just as you have judged couples who have chosen not to have kids. Yes, there are couples childless by choice and couples childless not by choice and those circumstances are certainly different, but the love and acceptance extended from the church to both kinds of couples should be no different. Who are we to know why, precisely, a couple has chosen not to have children? Who are we to judge that particular choice? It’s not immoral. It’s not “wrong.” It’s not a sin.

But this, this takes the cake:

/Know what their prize was? It was an evening out … at a family restaurant! Talk about justice!/

Justice? What does justice have to do with it, Mr. Rainey? Have these couples committed some wrong that needs to be redressed? Tell me, what crime are they guilty of? Isn’t “justice” something set aside for wrongdoers? I am gobsmacked at the judgment in this one short spot — and in the obvious relish taken in rendering it.

/Did you know that God is all about children?/

Really? That’s interesting. The God I know is all about grace. If he’s “all about children,” does that mean I can kiss heaven goodbye?

/The question is, how many children does He want you to have?/

No, Mr. Rainey. Based on this spot, I think the question is: How many childless couples’ hearts do you want to break and judge in one 90-second spot?

Oh, God. Save us from your people.

Mr. Rainey, this is one of the most profound moments of “ungrace” I have ever encountered in the body of Christ, and, believe me, as a childless Christian woman, I have encountered plenty.

You brought me to tears. And not in a good way.

May 9, 2009

-image-email

In my inbox, from a silent long-time reader of this blog:

Mother’s Day never arrives any more that I don’t think of you and remember your heart. I find myself holding you and the other childless couples I know close to me, considering them with special honor, knowing that there can never be the “right words.” Mother’s Day comes, and later Father’s Day comes and they are quietly absent from church. They never say anything, and were it not for you, I would not have noticed. They show courageous smiles–genuine, sincere smiles–at awkward moments. I am overwhelmed at times by such grace.

Thank you SO much for this. I am in tears. Tears, just having you tell me that I may have helped you take notice of others in similar circumstances. That means more than you’ll ever ever know. I have emailed you privately but want to acknowledge your kindness publicly, even though you’re anonymous.

God bless you for taking the time to tell me.

I feel somehow changed just reading this.

November 24, 2008

-image-omaha beach

I owe you all an apology for the post below. I wrote it in a crush of fury, as a way to exorcise myself, make my heart stop racing. But beyond that, when I look inside my heart — a somewhat calmer heart now — I realize I really wrote it as a way to “pile on” to the perpetrator. Really stick it to him because his lack of response to my comment made me, well, insane. My heart was sold out on the rightness of my cause so I basically declared war.

Obviously, I am not wrong whenever I’ve said, “I am occasionally somewhat unmodulated in my behavior.”

That said, I still agree with myself, my points. To the extent that any of them are even clearly articulated, yes, I still agree. It’s my motivation and my methods that were wrong. More than anything, I longed for him to come here and SEE, DAMMIT, that his comment was now the subject of its own post and even as I write that, I’m cringing with shame. I didn’t question my decision to do it. I never stopped to weigh it or say, “Hey, Jesus, sooo, whaddya think?” I didn’t want to. I wanted what I wanted and the proof is below.

I railed at fellow Christians and their untamed tongues all the while showing mine off quite nicely, thank you. Just because a person is a Christian doesn’t mean they’re free from hypocrisy. I, for one, clearly am not. I don’t expect ever to be free from it, because human-ness is a bloody mess. Everyone, Christian or no, has an Omaha Beach inside of them. The carnage of who we really are. I’m no different.

It would be so easy to just delete that post and pretend it never happened, but I won’t be doing that. (Not that I wasn’t sorely tempted.) It will stay up, as a reminder of my frequently cloudy motivations, my pettiness, my rage. If I take it down, I gloss over my own brokenness and that, too, would be hypocrisy. If I lose touch with my brokenness, I lose touch with my perpetual need for the grace of Jesus Christ.

So no. No, I want to own it. My Omaha Beach.

I have, however, gone ahead and banned the perpetrator from this blog. Judging from my stats, he still hasn’t seen any of this and now, he won’t. It’s hard for me to ban him — not because I want him to stay, I don’t — but because I was so invested in having him SEE WHAT HE DID! and RUBBING HIS NOSE IN IT! and such. Banning him before he sees any of this means I must forfeit my outcome. That’s hard. I hate that actually, because, hello, I’m a baby. All my life, I’ve longed for understanding, to be understood, blahdie blah, and this weekend, I wanted nothing more than to carve understanding into this man’s heart and mind, word by vehement word. Not once, but twice, for God’s sake, such was my fever for it.

Does he need more sensitivity? Perhaps. But, uhm, bludgeoning him repeatedly with his need for sensitivity is extremely unlikely to produce it. It’s regrettable to me that even now, at this point in my life, I’m always captivated by my methods. So sure my winning ways will make the pivotal difference for some sad misguided schmoe. It’s true: I am never not swept off my feet by my brilliant choices in any moment. They always sparkle and glow and whisper to me of my greatness. Liars.

Finally, in the post below, I didn’t mean to imply that if you believe in Jesus, you’re a dumbass. I’m a dumbass, but not for that. Plus, I know plenty of dumbasses who don’t believe in Jesus, so there’s no corner on the market here. Have I experienced dumbass behavior from Christians? Absolutely. Have I been a dumbass Christian? Indeedy. But believing in Jesus, I think, is a brilliant idea. Perhaps the only brilliant idea I’ve ever really had.

For any of you who cringed when you read that post, I totally understand.

Please forgive me.

Thank you, though, for your love and support, for being my true blazing champions. You are all such good friends to me. I’ve never met any of you in person, but you are real-er to me than some people I know face to face. In that, I am blessed.

People like you make me believe I just might survive my Omaha Beach.

-image-“fertility, or lack of it”

I have thought about this all day. No, actually, I’ve been apoplectic about it all weekend. Be honest, Trace. I didn’t want it to come to this, but something so egregious was said in the comment thread of this tiny post, that I couldn’t let it go unchecked. My response in that thread has so far gone unnoticed by the perpetrator, maybe because the post is so minor, it’s not something people check back on. Or maybe because the person has no idea what he said, has no twinge of conscience about it, which is deeply disturbing to me. So I’m linking to that post because I need to take a stand. There’s only so much a girl can take — on her own blog, no less.

Please know that I have no intention of making this a regular blog feature — calling attention to a particular comment thread and a particular person simply because I’m imploding about something. But to leave this hanging means this kind of treatment wins and it’s already defeated too much of me for too long. This is too personal and too painful and no matter how long I live, it will never not be painful to me. That’s the way it is when you struggle with infertility. It razes the most cherished assumptions about your life, forever flattens your vision, and abandons you shaking and scrambling to build a new house of assumptions from the rubble where you stand. Sure, you live your life, you rebuild, sorta, blah blah, but the rubble looms on the perimeter and you never know when you will stumble on it all over again. Sometimes you feel insane, mourning something you never even had. It’s not as if you mourn an actual person, yet you mourn nonetheless. You grieve what never was, what will never be, what other people have, so quickly or easily or abundantly. Society with its cozy families spins on its axis as you float nearby in some lonely surreal satellite, visible and separate in an oooh-so-titillating way.

And Christians, with their untamed tongues and gossipy agendas and barely hidden delight in having something you can’t — it’s sick. Sick. The callousness of the body of Christ on this issue. The judgment. The contempt. It’s sick and I WANT IT TO STOP. I’m railing here, hopefully not too nonsensically, but damn. Damn it all to hell. I have to say it: The fertile contingent of the church needs to stop being such irredeemable asses to the infertile contingent. Because you hurt us. You demean us. You give us numb sleepless nights and piercing hopeless days. You make us want to die. I’m not kidding. I will never be the same because of this chapter in my life and because of too many things said that, sadly, I could never just once grab from the ether and shove back down the speaker’s throat. Too many times, too many careless silky words sinking deep into me like a knife.

Well, not this time. I’m pulling the knife out of my chest and saying, “No, not on my blog.”

I realize I might sound completely nutso right now, but I can only hope that readers who have been with me for a while will understand this moment I’m having. This reaction. Over the last few years, they’ve heard me talk about how I’ve lost things in the struggle — dear things, treasured things, things I cannot ever get back — at the hands of the body of Christ.

Christ’s hands.

The church is the body of Christ. We are Christ’s hands on earth — he willingly risks his reputation, takes the great cosmic gamble to indwell us, his dumbass believers — and still, we treat each other like this or this or this. And I’m not even done telling my stories about this, for GOD’S SAKE.

So no. No. I don’t take that comment lying down. I won’t lie down for any similar comments in the future. I realize if this person ever reads this — and my comment in the thread there — I will win the world record for fastest deletion from a blogroll. So be it. Seriously. Write me off however you need to: Crazed, delusional, hypersensitive. Whatever you need to tell yourself so that you can feel good and justified about what you said — and, frankly, your overall vexing tone, especially in the two posts below. I don’t care if you want to label it “offhand.” Then that’s precisely the problem.

I’m just sick of the callousness from the people who bear Christ’s name. My heart has been ripped up enough.

July 30, 2008

-image-Protected: hope is the thing

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February 1, 2008

-image-Protected: write against the fear

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