Monday, May 4, 2015

The Day I left Church in Tears

I'm 41 years old, and I'm getting married for the first time in nineteen days.  I never expected to be this old and just now getting married, but my mother had a lot of health problems and once the time was right and I met my boyfriend, my mother asked him to move here and help take care of her.  I had been taking care of her myself but  it was too much for me to handle at that point without help.  She didn't want to live her final days in a nursing home.  I honored my mother's wishes, and my boyfriend did, too.  Between the two of us, we were able to keep her at home.  To me, it was the right thing to do, and I felt I was doing what God wanted for me as well.  She passed away at home, while I was at a small group from church.

Last Mother's Day was the first without her.   I headed to the first service our church holds, and it being on a Saturday I thought I was "safe".  I remembered how my mother said in her childhood church every woman got a carnation -- one color if your mother was living and another if your mother was deceased.  I thought about how difficult it would be the first year to wear the deceased color.

Nothing was said about Mother's Day all through the service.  But at the end.  Oh, how I wish I had left early.  Our church had about 50 in that service, and the mi
nister called all mothers up to the front.  I was the only adult woman left in the pews.  It was all men and me.  (I don't recall any children being at that service.)  I felt so singled out when every woman but me was called to the front.  Every woman but me received a flower.   It was uncomfortable, but I've dealt with that for years.  It doesn't matter how much you may want a child, at most churches I've been to only those who have children either biologically or adopted are honored.  (I've often wondered how women who have no children with them but have given a child a chance at a better life by releasing them to be adopted feel when all mothers are to stand.)
Mom and me after she was on dialysis for a couple years.

I was the only woman who was not given a flower.  I was the only woman looking on at all the other women while the minister did a mini-sermon about how being a mother and raising a child is God's highest calling.   (Isn't the calling God has on your life His highest calling for you?  And my calling is not what someone else's calling is so why should we say what is God's highest calling?)    My fiance tried to comfort me, but that only made it worse.  I was in absolute tears.  So much so that one of the women brought her flower to me, the childless one.

Isaiah 51:4 says it beautifully:

Rejoice, childless one, who did not give birth; burst into song and shout, you who have not been in labor! For the children of the forsaken one will be more than the children of the married woman," says the LORD."   (NLT)

Yet, it sometimes feels that churches forget this verse.  I have a friend named Leslie who is an amazing children's volunteer in her church.  She's still single.  Do you think the dozens of children she has ministered to would not rise up and call her blessed?  (Proverbs 31) I know I feel that way about the children's and youth workers I have had in my growing up years.  Leslie has children -- just in a different way -- their parents trust her with their child's spiritual education each week.  Mother's Day is just as much about Leslie as it is the woman who gave birth.  Let's begin to recognize that fact, and honor the sacrifices people like Leslie make.  We met at a retreat and she said how much she loved the times of worship because it was so seldom she was able to be in an adult worship service.

Last year after the minister finished his mini-sermon on motherhood being the highest calling in a woman's life, church was dismissed.  I want children.  I spoke to my doctor today about the possibilities and risks of trying to have a child.  I'm 41 and have health problems.  From the sounds of things, it likely won't happen.  We hope to adopt.  But until now God's highest calling for me was taking care of my ailing mother.   I couldn't have cared for her the way she needed if I would have had children.

Ours was the first of four church services over Mother's Day weekend last year.  As I left the church, I mentioned to the minister that he might want to be aware that there are women who want children and can't have them and hearing that motherhood was God's highest calling might not be the best way to honor mothers.  I was met with silence and a blank stare.

As soon as I got to the car, I announced I was never again attending church on Mother's Day as it was too painful.  I went home and went to bed.  My fiance had the next day off work and wanted to see me busy so we did a day of geocaching until we were exhausted.

Let's remember that God calls different people to different things.  Mother's Day can be a difficult day for various reasons.  Infertility, singleness, miscarriage.  I'm not saying to not  honor mothers but I'd love to see churches be mindful of the pain this day can cause, and let's also remember the Leslies in our church, the single women who give so much to the children.

11 comments:

  1. I am very sorry you were singled out last Mother's Day and I hope the church does something special this year to honor all women. You may be missing your mom and you may not be a mother yet, but I still hope you have a wonderful Mother's Day this year. I am glad you have a wonderful fiance who is kind, caring, and there for you. This Mother's Day remember the precious memories you had with your mother and focus with your head held high to the future. I am sorry that it does not sound ideal for you to have children of your own with your current health issues, but I am happy that you are considering adoption because there are many kids out there who need love and support. I think you have the power to make a difference in someone's life and I have no doubt that you would love a child as your own whether you gave birth to them or adopted them. You already have experiencing with taking care of others and I think you would make a great mom someday! I am wishing you all the best of luck with what life throws your way and congratulations on your upcoming wedding!

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    1. Thanks so much Carolyn. :) I just wanted to remind everyone to be sensitive to others on Mother's Day. I never used to think that anyone would have a problem with it -- after all everyone has a mother, right? But the older I've gotten the more aware I am about others.

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  2. What a beautiful verse and hope to hold onto during this difficult time! I admire your raw emotion and strength during this time. God sees every tear and honors your faithfulness! Bless you:)

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  3. I find it sad your minister was so callous toward your gentle reminder. :(

    As the caretaker for my mother, I know the path you walked - and are still walking. You are always in my thoughts.

    Could you do a post about geocaching? It sounds like you had a good day together!

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    1. Thanks for your encouragement. :) I've written some on geocaching in the past. With the upcoming wedding and house renovation, we haven't had time to do much so far this year, but you can find my geocaching posts here:
      http://www.booksbargainsblessings.com/search/label/geocaching
      I'm wanting to write a "how to get started" post sometime soon as well. :)

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  4. Bless you. You said this very well. I understand and am sorry this happened to you.

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    1. Thank you Phyllis. May you have a wonderful weekend however you spend it! :)

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  5. Heart-breaking and beautiful. Thank you for your honesty. You are in my prayers as your wedding approaches!

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  6. I would have been sitting beside you, crying as well. I miscarried two children, so I supposed I would have been left out too. Your minister could have done things differently if he had thought it through. Had your minister been a woman, I'll bet it would have changed. Thank you for taking care of your mother. My mother died 3 weeks ago, so mother's day will be very difficult this year. Her dying, plus one of my baby's was lost on a mother's day. Heads up, and all the best to you and your husband-to-be. What is meant to be will be. Trust that.

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  7. oh Jenn, this broke my heart for you. Thank you for your honesty and opening up to so many of us. Especially to those of us who are mothers and may not be sympathetic, because we just don't get it. I will forever "get it now" because of this post. I will be more aware and be more caring and concerned. Thank you again for you blunt, open honesty. There is nothing I can say to make it better, so just know that I will be praying with you during the next few months for God's plan for your life.

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