This is something that's been weighing on my heart for a long time now, and I thought I'd go ahead and put it out there. There is very little space for childless couples in our churches. You go from the college or singles ministry to young marrieds, but young marrieds are expected to have children. After all, most of the class likely has young children or is trying to have children. So what about those who choose to wait? Or even those who didn't get to make that choice?
Philip and I have been married for four years (the exact time can be found on the counter to the right). We chose not to have children while I finished school, and now we wait for medical clearance before we revisit that plan. There's a lady in my Bible study who has also been married four years, and she has three children. In fact, I am the only one in my Bible study who does not have kids. There's a good portion of our class that I cannot contribute to simply because I have yet to have children. The first week of our class even focused on raising children (we're studying Beth Moore's To Live Is Christ). While I found the lessons important not only for my future, but also for my work in children's ministry, I felt a bit out of place.
Then there's the expectations of those in the church. One lady asked me how I was and when I responded with "Good, just a little tired" she assumed I had young children who kept me up. I laughed it off and told her it was just the cat waking me in the morning, but she quickly ended the conversation and moved on to talking with another lady nearby about her children.
Isolated incident, I know. And I know this woman meant no wrong. She simply didn't know what to say next. However, she's not the only one with the assumption of children on her mind, and to be quite frank, it's my Christian friends who are the worse at this.
Only the closest of our non-Christian friends have asked about our plans for children. But everyone I meet at church seems to expect that we have kids. What's worse is the look you get when you tell someone that kids are still a ways away. It's almost like you have three heads. "What do you mean you don't want to get pregnant on your honeymoon? Don't you know children are a blessing from God?"
Yes, children are a blessing, but no, we aren't seeking that blessing just yet.
What breaks my heart is that while I have made a point of being involved in my church despite feeling like the odd one out, I know there are many who have not. I know that there are many hurting women who feel as if they don't quite belong to their churches because they have yet to birth children. And I know that the people who have hurt them had no idea what pain their words and looks could cause.
Here's my challenge to you. If you are blessed to be a parent in our churches, be kind and considerate to those who have chosen, or have come to accept, not having children just yet.
If you are one of the childless in our churches, please stick it out. Find a way to get involved. Use your great mothering skills to support your children's ministry. Use your time to support those around you. And please, be patient with the well-intended words of others.