Tuesday, September 23, 2014

We'll Be "Bedside Baptists" For Now.

For the next several weeks, Eric and I will not be attending church. It’s not because we’re lazy, and it’s not because we don’t think church is important – it’s because we’ve specifically decided not to sit in the sermon series.

Let me make myself clear. We love our church, and we think it’s good and healthy for people to be involved in a community of other believers for multiple reasons – encouragement, accountability, growth, etc. We personally don’t attend church to hear the preaching. It’s great to be taught Scripture, but we attend church to meet with God and fellowship with other believers. However, sometimes (very rarely) it’s important to know whether or not a specific sermon series will be damaging. For us, that’s these next few weeks.

Two weeks ago, our church started a sermon series on parenting. This comes right on the heels of my previous post on how Eric and I may never have our own children. Do I think parenting is a great topic? Absolutely. I think a church needs to be involved in that area of people’s lives. But here’s my issue: it’s extremely, extremely alienating to those who aren’t in that specific stage of life. I truly believe our church had every good intention in doing this sermon series, but Eric and I both agree that this topic is best left out of a Sunday message. Why? Because the congregation comprises SO many more people than just parents and more than just the ones who don’t want to have kids.

A couple weeks ago, I looked around at our congregation from the back row and wondered what kind of stories people have. There could definitely be many people who don’t want to have children, and thus don’t have a problem with a parenting sermon, even if they can’t really relate to it. But what about those people who desperately want kids but can’t have them? What about those people who have had multiple miscarriages? What about those people who have had their children pass away? What about those people whose children are grown and they didn’t parent them in the specific way that’s being preached about?

My heart aches especially for those who want kids but can’t have them. Though I don’t want kids at the moment, I have a small taste of what it feels like, and it’s awful. A Sunday sermon series would only bring that pain into full view, and I absolutely believe that it would be way more damaging that constructive for those people.

I can’t say for sure how I would react to listening to a parenting series, but I don’t want to take the chance. It not only doesn’t apply to us, but it also could cause that pain to intensify.

Let me say again – I think it’s very important for churches to be involved in the parenting aspect of people’s lives. However, I absolutely don’t believe it should be talked about on a Sunday morning, simply because there are a multitude of different stories and situations that people come from. To assume that all (or even the majority) of the congregation would benefit from that series is dangerous and, again, damaging. I think it’s a phenomenal topic to offer an evening class on so that those whose lives it applies to can choose to participate.

Eric and I really, really love our church. We love the people we’re getting to know, and we love the fact that we’re starting to get involved. But sometimes there are moments in which we disagree with the church (and I think this happens with everyone), and we have to do what’s healthiest for us.

We’ll certainly be back in church when the next series is started, but this is one that we have chosen to say, “No” to.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Life Without Children.

This is a hard post for me to write. It may be one of the most vulnerable moments I’ve ever had in my writing, and it scares me.

Eric and I have discussed a lot in the past year the possibility of having children. We’ve both come to the conclusion that we may never have our own biological kids. I can’t say that conclusion was an easy one – it’s a little easier for Eric than it is for me. Though I don’t want children now, I know there’s still an ache in my heart that longs to be pregnant and experience what it’s like to bear and raise a child. However, we’ve both seen that it may not be in the cards for us.

One of the major reasons for our conclusion is my health. My liver disease is very serious, and if, during pregnancy, one of my bile ducts closed, I wouldn’t be able to get it opened up. Having it opened up requires general anesthesia, and this isn’t possible while pregnant. My hepatologist has even told me that she doesn’t want me getting pregnant, at least not right now. If I were to get pregnant, I would be very high-risk and would need to be watched closely. Neither Eric nor I are willing to take that risk.

Most of the time, I’m completely fine with not having kids. I see new parents all around me completely stressed out and exhausted, and I don’t envy that. I’m certain that it’s all worth it for them, but that kind of exhaustion is not something I want right now. Eric and I are in great places in our jobs, and we’re loving being successful at what we’re doing.

We also love our life together. We’re best friends, in every sense of the word. We absolutely love spending time with each other, and we both have dreams to travel the world and experience new things with one another. We’re not ready or wanting that to change anytime soon. Again, I’m not making a judgment on anyone who has kids – I’m certain that all the changes are worth it, but we’re not in a place to make that change yet.

It makes me sad when I hear people look down on couples who have decided either not to get pregnant anytime soon or not to get pregnant at all. We all have different walks in this life, and just because some people decide not to have children doesn’t mean that they are any less mature or “adult” than another couple.

Eric and I have very valid reasons not to have children (right now). Yes, most of it has to do with my health, but we also have no desire for the kind of hard work and sacrifice it would take to be parents. That’s not to say that if we had a surprise pregnancy we wouldn’t be thrilled, but we both know that we’re not at a place where we’re ready or okay with taking on that kind of responsibility.

However…I still have an ache inside. Though I’m so happy for my family and friends who are in that stage of life, I also mourn for what may never be. As silly as it is, ever since I was in high school, I would sometimes talk to my belly about the future children that would be housed inside. I made a Pinterest board for “the future,” filled with baby room ideas and adorable decorations and outfits. We’ve been asked by multiple people in the past, “When are you going to have kids,” and we’ve been able to answer with a positive “Not now, but maybe soon!” Those questions have thankfully disappeared, but the ache from past questions still remains.

Though I love seeing pictures and posts from friends who are pregnant or have just had children, sometimes I have to distance myself from Facebook in order not to become envious or angry that I may never have that opportunity. Sometimes the pain is just too much.

I know many of you are probably saying, “You’re only 25, you have plenty of time.” Yes, I realize that I have many child-bearing years ahead of me. However, my health certainly may never permit that, even if Eric and I come to a point that we want kids. I’m terrified of that possibility.

However, I still have hope. Through the ache and through the future uncertainty, I know that I have a great God. I also know that just because we may never have our own biological children, that doesn’t mean we’ll never have kids. Adoption has been on my heart for quite some time now, and even though it’s expensive and far off into the future, I would love for that to one day become a reality. Though I may miss out on the miracle of pregnancy, I would be thrilled to give a child a home and call him/her our own.

But for now, I plan on enjoying every second I have with my amazing husband, and our adorable (and crazy) cat. I love my little family, and I dote on my nieces and nephew any chance I get. If I have any advice for those reading this, it would be to please be sensitive to those couples who don’t have children. You may have no idea what they’re struggling with, and to just assume that they’re being selfish and immature for not having children is very damaging.

Those couples may be struggling through health issues, infertility, miscarriages, or a multitude of other things. Or, quite frankly, they may just not want children (and I believe that’s okay, too). We’re all on different paths in this life, so let’s not make the mistake of believing everyone must live the way we do.

And though this may seem silly and insignificant, please do not make judgments on those who call their pets “children,” or “babies.” It may seem ridiculous to you, but to someone who is infertile, it may be the only way they can feel like a parent. Please don’t devalue those who take pride in their pets.

We may never know what another person is dealing with. Please be sensitive to any and all who don’t have children, because your words and judgments may be far more damaging that you’ll ever realize.