Thursday, December 5, 2013

A Woman's Gift

And I'm back into philosophical mode and quite possibly into soap box mode...we'll see how this goes.  Just so you know, you've been warned.

I recently read a blog post that has been circulating around pinterest, facebook, and various other social media sources.  It's so unfair when a blog post goes viral, because inevitably people who don't belong to the target audience end up reading a post that was usually just meant as a personal collection and sharing of thoughts.  HOWEVER...we live in a global world.  Every time you click publish on a blog post, you have to know that many different people from many different walks of life are going to read what you write.  Not all responses will be positive.  I have a feeling I will make more people mad with the words that follow here, but I am willing to take that risk.  My heart has been burdened with the need to get this off of my chest, so here goes.

The gist of this blog post was about big families and having multiple children.  I have nothing against this, really.  If that's your desire and you have the means to support a large family, go for it!  There was one thing that stuck out to me that just did not resonate well with me, though.  The author said something that basically communicated that fertility is God's gift to women.  I don't necessarily disagree at surface level.  Yes, God decided to bless women and not men with the ability to carry and deliver children.  That is a simple fact of life, and something that separates the genders.  

But it got me thinking.  I think one of the BIGGEST ways the church fails women is in communicating this one little statement.  [I say church with a little c, meaning people who attend churches, versus church with a big C, meaning the collective bride of Christ.]  Every time the church tells women that their only job is to be a wife and raise children, I think they (we) run the risk of alienating a large group of women.  These women include working women, single women, widows, women with fertility issues, etc.  

I have to admit, I used to have a hard spot in my heart for stay at home moms.  This callous-ness was more a result of feeling judged by people than it was an actual dislike for women who stay at home.  I have many friends who stay at home with their kiddos and I think it is wonderful.  But a part of me cringes every time someone gives me a look that communicates they either disapprove of my desire to work, or they assume that I am working because I am financially required to work.  Both insult me.  Why can we not come to a place where we all acknowledge that the decision to work or stay at home or attempt both is a personal decision with no right or wrong answer?  But, I digress....

I fear that the church diminishes our role as women every time it implies that our only contribution is in birthing and raising children.  This is a HUGE role!  I have only come to realize how huge in the last few months.  I am not in any way trying to minimize the task that us mothers are given.  

HOWEVER...if birthing children is the only way we can serve God, then what does that say about the many women who will never have children?  What does that say about the many women who desire children so desperately but can never have them?  What about those courageous women who volunteer to raise other people's children through fostering, or women who choose to adopt children that they didn't physically birth?  These women still serve the Lord with the hearts, their individual talents, and their wonderful lives.  

I admit, I have never miscarried, and I have never struggled with fertility issues.  I can only imagine the distinct hurt and grief that those of you struggling with these issues go through.  I have heard women say that these are silent hurts that they feel they have to struggle through on their own.  Maybe this is because it is a deeply personal hurt that women don't want to share.   That is certainly a possibility.  But I wonder...if the church tells you that your only gift is to raise children, and you can't have them, does a small part of you feel like a failure?  If this is true, then shame on us, church...WE are the failure.  

We as a church are supposed to create an environment where people feel safe and loved.  Unfortunately, I fear, we have created an environment where people feel they have to meet a certain check list just to be allowed in our doors.  We've lost it, church.

There are so many examples of women in the Bible, and women in recent history that have brought so much glory to the Lord through lives without children.  These women are to be celebrated!  

To wrap this all up and attempt to tie it all together with as pretty a bow as I can manage...God tasks us all with different jobs.  You may be asked to be a mother, a teacher, a missionary, a preacher, a doctor, a lawyer, a nurse, an accountant...the list goes on and on.  Whatever we are called to do, let's do it well and quit picking on other women just because their calling looks different than ours.

That is all, Internet world.  Hopefully, I have managed to not offend at least a few.

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