Thursday, June 28, 2012

Pain, Infertility, and The Church

There is a problem in the Church that needs to be addressed. It's a problem with the way the Church handles pain and the people who are going through it.

This post can apply to any type of suffering or pain, but because I am going through infertility, that is the example I'm going to use. 

Like I've said before, I usually don't like to get into my faith much on this blog, but I really think this is something that needs to be addressed.

We are supposed to bring all of our burdens to Christ (Psalms 55:22). Shouldn't we be able to bring them to the Body of Christ, the Church, as well? We should, but unfortunately, many church members just don't want to deal with someone who is going through hardship.  Churches are handling infertility the same way that the world does. They want to sweep it under the rug, not talk about it, and ignore it. As Christians, aren't we called to be different?

After my husband and I had been diagnosed with infertility and were going through all the various tests that come along with that diagnosis we turned to our fellow believers for support. I was quite vocal about my feelings about what we were going through. I thought it was a safe place to do so. It wasn't.

I encountered an attitude of, "Just pray about it and then get yourself together." I was told that voicing my unhappiness with my situation was sinful and that I was bitter. Many people told me that my infertility (a medical condition) was all part of God's plan. I've never had anyone tell me that me being diagnosed with Crohn's disease was part of God's plan, so why do people think it's okay to say that about infertility?

I felt very much shut out and unwanted because I wasn't pretending that my life was just great. When did the idea that you have to be happy all the time to be a Christian come along? Read the book of Job, Lamentations, or the Psalms. Those guys were struggling and they were VERY open with their feelings.

The sense of, "you don't belong here, just go away," that I got from my brothers and sisters in Christ  during that time period has made me very hesitant to go to church. I feel the need to protect and insulate myself. Infertility has already made me feel like an outsider. I didn't need that to be reinforced by other believers.

I know that I am not alone in these feelings. I've heard them echoed by SO many women who are Christian and are infertile. They are told that they need to be patient, trust God, and just pray. The end. Not many people want to hear about what they are really feeling or how hard what they are going through is. 

It's true, I have changed. Pain has changed me. If you can believe this, I used to be one of those bubbly people who was an eternal optimist and loved being around people almost all the time. That has obviously changed. The parts of myself that were so hopeful had to be deadened to protect myself. Imagine what hope followed by horrible disappointment every month would do to the mind of an optimist. I also don't like being around large groups of people anymore. It's hard for me because I'm just not myself anymore. I hope that I get those parts of myself back someday, but they just aren't here right now.

There is a quote I pinned on Pinterest. It says, "Love me until I'm me again." That is what I need from those around me. That is how the Church needs to approach people who are suffering. Understand that when someone has been going through something awful long enough it changes them. Love them until they are themselves again.

Jesus called the suffering to come to Him. Shouldn't we, the Church, be doing the same? There is an astounding lack of compassion in a faith whose greatest commandment is Love. Let's bring some of that back.

16 comments:

  1. This is a great post and I agree 100%!! Thankfully our church community has always been very, very supportive and kind to us. Of course there are those that say very, very dumb things. But, overall they've been kind. However, I was shocked when trying to find support from who I thought were close friends and in other Christian circles. We've heard all the insensitive things you've written about in here and I completely agree with you!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for the feedback! I always love comments. I am so happy that you have had such a positive experience from your body of believers. I LOVE hearing stories like yours. I've just heard from so many women from so many different churches that they aren't getting the support that they desperately need from the people that should be welcoming their heartache with open arms. I want that to change.

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  2. I have felt this way, quite often actually. Chad and I were lucky to have found ourselves in a church that declares it's a "place for people under renovation." Infertility was the beginning of the most broken (and ongoing) part of my life. It's been tough.

    I think people say "just pray about it" because they don't know what else to say. And by all means, DO pray about it. But take care of yourself as well. Take care of yourself and know that Christ loves you better than people know how to show. <3

    Also, even if it is part of God's plan, it doesn't make it any less painful. I wish people would stop saying that.

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  3. My parents, very devout Catholics and good Christians are starting to feel like that about the church now too. I remember a time when the church saved a lot of what their life was and now, well they just don't want to be there as much anymore.
    There definitely is a lot of feeling about "Don't bring your problems to us" attitude going on. I don't know where or why that started. I was always taught that your church should be your safe haven...not so much anymore.

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    Replies
    1. Don't think I am bashing churches or Christians. I am not. This post is about encouraging Christians to have a greater empathy for their brothers and sisters in pain and those outside the church that are hurting.

      Delete


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  4. Hi, I found your blog by randomnly clicking around on someone else's blogroll (can't even remember who it was now, haha). This post is so dead on some of the feelings I have been having about faith and infertility. We have purposely not told a lot of people at our church about our struggles because I'm afraid of the reactions that you have decribed in this post. Infertility is such a faith altering journey..sometimes it makes you stronger, sometimes it seems to make your faith weaker. I always try to remember that people sometimes do not know what to say, so their words can be hurtful. But Christ is my ultimate supporter, so when those in His body have failed, I know that he still has not failed me, even if it seems like that because His followers have not been supportive of my struggles. Sorry that was a long rant, but I really hope you can find the support you need, whether that be in church or somewhere else.

    P.S. Maybe we will be cycling together in September...I might be doing an IVF then as well :)

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    Replies
    1. I'm so glad you found my blog! Thank you for commenting. If you have a twitter account you should follow me. It's a private account, but I accept almost every request. That way we could keep up with each other as we are going through IVF! :-) Thanks again for reading!

      Delete
  5. Such a great blog post - thanks for sharing!

    My experience has been similar but mostly from the leadership in the church, which is a shame. Many of the individuals we have spoken to have been responsive and comforting, which is such a blessing.

    However, after our second miscarriage (after years of infertility) one of the pastor's asked us what they could do to help. When we asked for them to acknowledge the loss publicly like any other loss, they told us they couldn't do that as it would "make some people feel uncomfortable." We were floored and felt very invisible. Sigh...

    Anyways, thanks again for your post :)

    All the best!

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    Replies
    1. Oh Rachel, I am so sorry that you had an experience like that and I am so sorry for the loss of your child. As Christians, we value life in all of its stages and I am shocked that your pastor denied you the public acknowledgment of the loss of your child. That just makes my heart hurt so much for you. I hope and pray that you and your husband find support that comes from a place of true love and understanding.

      Delete
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  10. I will only advice every other woman TRYING TO GET PREGNANT or have Fallopian tube issues, pcos and other infertility problem too do their research and don’t base your option only on anyone’s advise, I did and it resulted in waste of money and time. contact Dr climent on email: drclimentscott@gmail.com because I have discover Dr climent. long time ago and I would have been pregnant earlier if I follow my heart and buy the herbal herbs but I disregard it because of my doctor’s advice and I am annoyed at myself but at the same time I am happy that I made the wise decision by going back to Dr climent, for his herbal herbs. Now I am a strong believer of this herbal herbs natural medicine. Thank You.contact Dr climent for bringing this joy into my home am so happy at last am now a mother of twins am the happiest woman on earth thank god i came back for your herbal herbs i no so many marriages out there finding it difficult to conceive i will surely encourage them to have fate and contact you on your email or number for help contact Dr climent now via drclimentscott@gmail.com drclimentscott@gmail.com Or his whatsapp number. +2347036879479 drclimentscott@gmail.com
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