My Womanhood (and Identity) is Not on Hold

nowI’m not sure if I’m the only barren woman who feels like this, and I’ve never really been able to express it out loud before, but sometimes I feel… embarrassed? (is that the word I mean?) by my infertility. I attribute some of it to living in an Eastern culture, where being a mother is the end-all when it comes to womanhood. Marriage is a big step, but children seal the deal. Until then, you’re still just half a woman. But this culture isn’t all to blame… Western culture can be like that, too, for starters. I feel the sting in my small group when it’s the other married women, who have kids, me, and the single women. I’m this weird middle person, and it often results in me feeling like a weird half-person. (I don’t want to neglect what the article I’m going to share doesn’t — single women often struggle with the same thing.) It somehow makes me feel ashamed, and I’m ashamed to admit that. I see it when someone asks if we have kids (my least favorite question). It only increases when I say, “No,” and they follow up with, “How long have you been married?,” obviously trying to save the awkwardness with a good reason for my half-state. Surely I’m just a newlywed. But when I’m not (and of course, I’m not), the embarrassment kills me (and often them). I do and don’t want to cry out, “It’s not for lack of trying!” And I hate that feeling. What is that? Why am I mortified by something I obviously can’t control? Am I really a half-woman?

chanAnd then there’s my own sinful heart, the biggest culprit, which can convince itself that my identity and wholeness is found in anything but Christ. That my life is “on hold” until “the rest of it” comes along.

I found great encouragement in this article from The Gospel CoalitionYour Womanhood is Not on Hold, by Courtney Reissig (of Don’t Waste Your Infertility greatness). How often I catch myself waiting for my “real life” to start, after we’re done with all this infertility and trial stuff. And how much of my life passes me by because of this. The truth is, in Christ I am complete. And even more so, He has given me an earthly identity — I, for example, am a wife, a homemaker, a teacher, a friend, a laborer for the Kingdom, an aunt, a sister, a daughter. Why can’t I do those things to the fullest now? Why am I waiting for a child to start living? And why I am flinching when I say I don’t have kids?

Earlier this summer I was chatting with a single girlfriend who was about to take a month-long trip-of-a-lifetime touring the U.K. It was her first time leaving America, and using up a big chunk of her savings. She said, “I know it’s kind of crazy for me, but I’ve realized I’m saving so much of my life for the off-chance that I’ll get married, that I’m missing it now.” She kept saving that money and vacation time in case she met someone to take it with her. “I’m pushing thirty, and I hope I do get married, but I don’t want to waste my best years just waiting for it.”

My conviction about this has pushed me to start by being a wife and homemaker to the fullest for now. I mean, I wasn’t awful before, but as I think about it, I would sort of cut corners with the unspoken plan to do more when we’re a “real family.” (Say what?) For example, I can’t keep copping out of doing a holiday celebrations and decor at my house the way I always dreamed because we don’t have kids yet. Or keep serving my husband lazy meals because there’s no one else to “impress” (like kids are going to care more than him anyway). I catch myself doing this with my job, too. I slack off, even if just mentally, because I hang on to a hope that I’m going to quit soon, when I’m pregnant. Well, “soon” has come and gone quite a few times by now, but that job hasn’t gone anywhere. God has me in that position for a reason and I need to fulfill it with excellence. glory

And this isn’t a retreat. I’m not waving the white flag, giving in to “DINK” life because nothing better has come along. I just want to be the fullness of who I am today, with great hope for tomorrow, without looking back later and realizing I wasted a lot of great days and chances waiting for something better to come along.

I don’t know… I’m just reflecting on my life. What are your thoughts? Read the article first, then tell me what you think. Do you do these things, too (please say yes!)?

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4 thoughts on “My Womanhood (and Identity) is Not on Hold

  1. Yes, I totally understand what you are saying! I find myself falling into many of those same traps. Thank you for sharing your struggle and the truth of God’s Word that we should cling to!

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  2. I can completely relate to this. For so long, I felt like my life was on hold, just in case I got pregnant. This year I vowed to celebrate life more and stop allowing life to pass me.

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  3. I know exactly what you mean but I would not really say I’m embarrassed only that I don’t want to always have to explain my infertility to everyone and people feel entitled to details. I have since adopted twins – most people are convinced that I am waiting for a miracle pregnancy and I can honestly say I am not. I am raising my kids and very content. Whether I not I conceive someday is currently not of critical consideration for me. Life goes on

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  4. I really identified with this article and your post. I felt embarrassed all the time. People would often raise an eyebrow when I told them we didn’t have children and proceed to infer that “my clock was ticking.” Sometimes I thought it would be better to just make something up like “we can’t stand children!” rather than explain that I had stage 4 endometriosis, and that conceiving was next to impossible. Not that any explanation is necessary.
    It’s hard to brush off the hurtful comments (one man once told me “the honeymoon’s not over until you’ve had children!”) but I think Courtney Reissig nails it on the head when she says “The Ultimate mark of womanhood is trusting in God.” In every season of life, isn’t this what it boils down to? Are we trusting God to make something good out of something that doesn’t seem good?

    In the meantime, enjoy cooking those awesome meals for your husband, and enjoy living not as a half-woman but as woman perfectly knit together by the Father!

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