I’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?
And 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 Coalition: Your 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. Continue reading “My Womanhood (and Identity) is Not on Hold”