Have you ever sat through a church service wondering why nothing you’re hearing speaks to your infertility journey? Or struggled through a baptism wondering if you’ll be able to hold back the tears? Have you ever left a couples’ Sunday school class because you don’t fit in with effortlessly fertile people? Or hustled up the side aisle of the sanctuary because you cannot hear one more word about a ‘family church’ where are all welcome, and everyone finds a place?
Welcome to the club.
The bad news is that you can’t help but be a member of this club if you’re in the midst of the infertility journey. Every church of every denomination seems unable to find a way to acknowledge your struggle, much less meet your needs.
Is that impossible to change? I don’t think so. Will it take a herculean effort on someone else’s part? Nope; just a little-bitty one on yours.
Here’s my idea.
I’ve written an open letter to Faith Leaders, and I’m asking you to deliver it. Email it directly to your ministry team and sign your name, or tuck it anonymously into an offering plate. It doesn’t matter which. Just do it at least once (more than once isn’t a bad idea). Get it in the hands of the right people – and give them what they need to help you make your way to parenthood.
Not sure it’ll change anything? Think of it this way: the worst that can happen is status quo. But maybe, they’ll listen and learn. And wouldn’t that be a blessing?
Dear Faith Leader,
In the midst of your congregation are infertile couples longing for help and hope. I am reaching out to you as one of them.
We come here searching for the God who put the dream of parenting in our hearts. As His representative, we look to you for inspiration, wisdom and guidance. Sadly, more often than not, we come away from worship feeling invisible, discouraged, and as if we don’t belong here. We know that is not God’s desire, and it is not your intention. So, here’s what we ask of you:
1) See Us – Recognize that 1-in-every-6 couples struggles with infertility issues. Not just women; men, too. Because of social stigma, we are hesitant to self-identify… but we are here.
2) Acknowledge Us – It is painful to sit in the pew and hear messages that presume we are not present or not emotionally vulnerable. We are in your midst during baptisms, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, children’s choir performances… all the reminders of what we desperately want but do not have. Please don’t ignore our suffering. Speak a word of hope to those of us who would give anything to be part of these special events.
3) Inspire Us – Scripture is full of hope-giving words. Speak them over us! Are you not sure how they apply to our circumstances?Read Pregnant with Hope: Good News for Infertile Couples. According to Columbia Seminary President Dr. Stephen Hayner, “It invites couples on a journey of hope and healing of the kind only God can give. It is a book for struggling couples, and for those of us who love them and often don’t know what to say or do. I’m so thankful for this resource! May God use it mightily.”
4) Walk With Us – Do more than talk the talk. Make this journey alongside us, offering the comfort of your steady presence. Pray for us, reach out to us, listen to us, connect us with other infertile couples… show us you are not afraid to be fully present with us in this. Face each challenge next to us, ready to show by example how we can live into God’s promises as we make our way toward parenthood.
5) Support Us – Statistically speaking, we are not the only infertile couple in this congregation. There are others who need the same kind of help and hope we long to receive. Please consider launching a support group for infertile couples. All the resources you need can be found on the PregnantWithHope.com website. And if you choose to lead us, there are hundreds of blog posts on PregnantWithHope.wordpress.com that can help you better understand our struggles – and the kind of messages that can renew our faith and restore our joy.
Please give this serious consideration.
Your grateful congregant