Saturday, June 8, 2013

Childless in Church is OK

I can tell my church is more sensitive to women like me and I'm so appreciative. I still skipped this Mother's Day service as I usually do (I also skip baby showers), but in several services the pastor has recognized women that aren't mothers and challenged us to consider ourselves as mothers to other younger women or kids in our life and community. I do appreciate that, but hollowly wondered how I could share my love and wisdom with others? I still had feelings of loneliness and longing. Despite these feelings, I knew I'd grown in my walk with the Lord and had made it to a good place to deal with my feelings in light of being surrounded by model families. 

It hasn't been easy. In fact, I would say this has been one of the hardest things I've gone through in my life. My past coping mechanisms of squelching emotions that may well up and keeping "busy" has mostly kept me focused on work, feeling unhealthy, imbalanced and sedentary. Writing helps me think this through and work out emotions; however, I've obviously avoided it and writing just twice a year doesn't yield many results!  I feel like I've been stuck on a deserted island but have only halfheartedly tried to get off. 

What keeps us in these ruts? Surely God has a better purpose for our life. This reminds me of "The Screwtape Letters" by C.S. Lewis. Satan would like nothing more than for me to take the easy way out, the "do nothing" option. I've done that for a long time. It is easy. But it is hollow and not gratifying  It feels like groundhog day, and I catch myself looking at a) how glad I am that I'm not as depressed/frustrated/sad as I was in the past about not having kids, but b) how shallow my life still feels. Three months would pass and again I would have the same conversation in my head. 

In an effort to move forward from this rut, I joined a nine month women's discovery class / mentor group in my church to draw closer to the Lord and to "figure out God's purpose for my life." I quickly learned on day one, of course, that while I will never truly know God's purpose for my life, I can come up with a personal mission statement to help guide my direction. What a relief - I got off the desert island! While I don't know exactly where I'll land from here, at least I feel like I am in a canoe paddling in a forward direction. Check that: let's go instead with a catamaran sailing in the Caribbean in a forward direction. I'll share the exact mission statement in another post, but suffice it to say it reinforced my desire to communicate with others through writing, teaching, and helping. Specifically, communicating God's redemptive powers and love! So as a first step, I just started teaching 3rd grade Sunday school.

While I was in the discovery class, I was also helping out on Sundays with the 3rd graders as an assistant. But I realized as the intense work progressed in the class that I could do more. That I should do more. I've been passive for many years, receiving great support from my church family and other Christian resources, but it is time for me to give back. 

Now, I am really excited about leading these kids and teaching the lesson beginning this summer. But talk about stepping out on a ledge! Did I mention I wasn't brought up in the church and don't know all these stories by heart? The church provides a  curriculum so all I have to do is study ahead and prepare some crafts, and it isn't so bad! I am sticking with the same class I assisted last year, and I like how I can continue to be more involved in the kids' lives. In the past, one of the things that bothered me when people suggested I work with kids was that I wouldn't really get to know them, so what was the point. Maybe by teaching and staying connected to the same grade I can make better connections and see God work in their lives. 

After this commitment...who knows? I'm taking my first bonafide international mission trip this fall to Trinidad - another step out on a ledge. Yet I'm not afraid of these challenges - because "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?" (Romans 8:35) He has healed me and held me and I wouldn't have made it this far without Him. By focusing on Him, the blessings in my life have been amazing. 

I think the first challenge He got me through this year was the hysterectomy. My focus narrowed so much heading into it. I was truly petrified of what this surgery would find. This was my third surgery since 2002 and I hope it is my last. With each one, I experienced more and more dread. Yet, I came out just fine and without a single complication. I have given some serious praise on this one; thank you, Jesus. I'm at 150%! 

I had to get beyond the surgery to close a chapter, and I am so glad I had the experience with the discovery class to give me the framework to begin writing the new one. 

"For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."  
Romans 8:38

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