This morning we went to a different church in order to support a friend on staff there.
The pastor came onstage after the worship music ended. He started talking about how children are a special part of the church family. He asked the congregation to stand as the children were dismissed to Sunday School and to read aloud special blessing for them. The blessing emphasized that children are welcome in the church, their specialness, and the church is happy they are there.
My husband leaned over and whispered to me, “Can you imagine how painful this would’ve been for us 3 years ago?”
Before I even realized what was happening, my eyes filled with tears. I’m pretty sure I swore under my breath (which I rarely do— especially in church!!!) and pushed my husband out of the way as I practically ran outside. A kind lady tried to stop me and ask if I was okay, but all I could do was say, “I’m fine, thanks,” and keep running.
I ended up walking around the block 3 times to calm down.
Most of you know that I had a daughter after my 3rd round of IVF. Her birth healed me of so much of the pain and sadness that I struggled with when it came to church and kids. I knew I was still a little sensitive to it, but until today I didn’t realize how much it still affects me.
Here’s the thing: There’s nothing wrong with welcoming children in church and saying a blessing for them. In fact, it’s a beautiful and good thing. After all, Jesus Himself talked about the importance of welcoming and caring for children and even gave them a special blessing, too.
“People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them”. – Mark 10:13-16
I definitely think the church needs to be more aware and sensitive to infertility in their congregation. Some churches have a tendency to glorify family and parenthood and exclude people without children. But, I don’t think it’s appropriate to expect or ask the church to stop acknowledging or celebrating children. The Bible reminds us to weep with those who weep AND celebrate with those who celebrate (Romans 12:15).
So how should we respond when we find ourselves in a triggering situation like the one I was in this morning? I honestly don’t know. Maybe it depends on where each of us are in our walk with the Lord and where we are in our infertility story. Sometimes I might need to remove myself from the situation and compose myself, like I did this morning. But sometimes I might need to take a deep breath, maybe say a prayer for strength, and put on my big girl panties.
How do you all handle triggering situations like this? Please share your thoughts in the comments.
Looking for more encouragement during infertility? Check out my book, 31 Days of Prayer During Infertility.