So I told you that there would be some dark alleys on the journey; who knew that one of them would be Sunday School?
Back when we were a young, naive couple, we attended a Sunday School class of other such couples, all great folks, actually. However, when you are normal it is difficult to be sensitive to those who are not; hence the comments that can drive one out of adult Sunday School. Maybe my experience will help someone to be more careful or encourage other young reproductively challenged women that there is someone out there who knows your sorrow. (I am not PC, but somehow I cannot bring myself to use the word infertile to describe other women like me-not sure why. I only use it in self-descriptions or as a noun. Having been in that very exclusive but unpopular sorority, I would never risk adding to the sorrow of my sisters.)
In our class, each week a few more folks would announce that they were expecting, and we would all smile, congratulate, and cheer. That was not the bad part; I could rejoice with my friends, even though I was often dying inside. A baby on the way is a gift from God, and as a baby lover-I truly was happy for each of these couples. I attended the showers when I felt up to it, listened to all their labor and delivery stories with rapt attention and empathy (well perhaps sympathy is more like it since I had not experienced this trauma), and smiled and cooed over their newborns. I even comforted those who complained to me of an unexpected pregnancy. I thought I was handling things quite well.
Until One Week…
After many jokes about what was in the water, and all the other usual pregnancy comments that were completely innocent and bearable, even for people like me, someone crossed a line, and I never went back to that class. This fellow did not mean to hurt me or anyone; and to be fair, I have had my own foot in my mouth plenty of times. In fact I could have a category on this blog for things I should not have said but did. Trust me; Proverbs 10:19 is my life verse.
However the sting of the following comment was simply too much for this wannabe mother to bear. Hey, how about this: Stand up if you’re NOT pregnant! Uproarious laughter from everyone seemed unanimous and prolonged, but of course now that I have raised three teenagers, I know that everyone is 2-3 people tops, and forever is often 2-3 seconds.
Needless to say, I remained seated, hoping no one noticed my hot red cheeks, or my cascading tears, despite my desperate attempt to appear unaffected. Hold it in Liz, just till you get someplace private, and then you can bawl your guts out. My kind husband Joe squeezed my hand in a way that communicated that he knew my heart was going off like the Lost in Space robot, arms flailing and red lights flashing (Danger Will Robinson!!!!), but that all was going to be OK.
And that was my last Sunday in Adult Sunday School for a while, and the beginning of my Miss Liz years. I became the teacher for the 2s and 3s as we called them at Perimeter Church. Although I still desperately wanted a baby of my own, I began teaching all of my friends’ children about the beauty and wonder of God. That’s not actually right; they began teaching me about the beauty and wonder of God.
I adored each one of these precious children, and no, it did not hurt to be around them. They brought so much joy and laughter into our lives, and we still use their stories and expressions. The 2s and 3s are now grown, married and have kids of their own now in many cases, but we still smile when we think of them.
For example, there was Jamie, who was the cutest little girl we ever met. Joe says that Jamie was the child who made him want to be a father some day. Not only was she a stunning brown-haired beauty, but she had the most winsome personality. She would show us her imported papers after church, (her collection of drawings and kids’ bulletins), and talk to us as if she was much older than her three years. We still call our important documents our imported papers, and wish somehow that Jamie could get a DING each time we do. It would be nice for her to know how she helped us to feel better. And Sunday School was no longer painful, although this journey was just beginning.