Dear Member of My Congregation,
I wanted to respond to
your statement the other day. As I was leaving church on Sunday, you
came up to me and said, “You’re trying to get pregnant, right?” At the
time I was too shocked to say anything more than, “Um, uh, no, not yet”
to you, but upon further reflection I think a longer response is
Now, I know it is no mystery that I love babies. I
grab babies at church every chance I get. Holding one of those warm,
wiggly creatures gives me a rush of endorphins unlike anything else.
When I first got married, members of the congregation to whom I was
close would often joke about whether or not I was pregnant and that
felt fine and funny because I had pre-established rapport with them.
I barely know you. I see you on Sunday mornings and you have been
nothing but polite to me, but we’ve never had a conversation beyond the
niceties that are expected between pastor and churchgoer. Now, I know
we’re all part of the body of Christ, and that we all belong to each
other, but ma’am, unless you were in the hospital getting a
hysterectomy or in my office complaining about your marriage, I will
never ask you how your sex life is. In fact, I really don’t want to
And, I suspect, you do not really know how my sex life with my husband is going. I don’t discuss my sex life with my closest friends, and I am certainly not going to discuss it with you. After all, you can’t ask me about getting pregnant without asking me about sex and. . .ewww.
Here’s the deal. My husband and I do have a plan to try to start a family at an undisclosed time. So, while your question made me uncomfortable, it was not a painful question. But, I have friends for whom that question would be heart breaking.
I have friends who would like nothing more than to be pregnant. I have friends who yearn to be mothers, but cannot.
I have friends who are candidates for in-vitro fertilization, who are on their third and fourth try in a process that is emotionally, physically, financially and spiritually exhausting.
I have friends who cannot get pregnant and are waiting to adopt, hoping—for years sometimes—that someone will choose them to parent their child.
I have friends who have just had miscarriages, and are mourning the loss of what might have been.
I have friends who are in the midst of failing marriages who are realizing not only may they not have children, but they may not even stay married.
For that matter, I have friends who are single who want nothing more powerfully than to be a wife and mother, but who have not found the right person to marry.
For any of these women, your question would have provoked a set of emotions far stronger and more painful than mine. But, like me, they would have demurred and not embarrassed you, even though your question would have pierced their hearts.
I know your interest in my life comes because you care for me and the image of the pastor’s new baby is a charming one. However, our words hold an enormous amount of power and I would ask that you use them gently. I, too, will try to remember the power of language and use my own words for good.