Different than I expected

Sunday, May 08, 2011

It's no secret that today is Mother's Day. There have been many great posts by my fellow bloggies, and I echo all of their sentiments.

Today was different than I expected. I remembered Mother's Day church services as very much focusing on moms and very centered around recounting all the ways and reasons that they deserve special recognition (which, no argument from me, many moms do). I sat in the congregation and felt so alone...so unrecognized. It seemed like all the prayers, all the preaching, and all the announcements were relevant to everyone except me. I wondered how on earth could a place like a church be so alienating when it is supposed to be safe and loving to all?

This morning as I put on a new dress, I wondered what it would be like to experience all of those things again, but this time while I was carrying our baby. Sort of like MercyMe's song "I Can Only Imagine", I wasn't sure how I would react- would I just bask in the joy? Would I be so overcome with emotion that I wouldn't be able to stand?

The service started- I waited for the opening prayer to mention moms- never did. The pastor reflected on the Sciptures- I waited for his tie-in to Mother's Day- never came. We got to take part in the service this morning (unexpected), and right before it was our part, prayers were lifted for the congregation by a reader. I waited for the throng of prayers about mothers and children and families- never mentioned. The prayers concluded, but then the pastor added one more- for mothers. I teared up as Mr. A gave me a quick squeeze, and I thought for sure I would look a mess when we would be in front of everyone. At the very end of the service, when we were all sitting, the pastor encouraged a round of applause for the mothers in the congregation, but he didn't have anyone stand.

I was admittedly very surprised at the lack of focus on mothers at church today. Was it possible that my infertile perspective skewed how it had been handled before? I know that the struggle to have a baby deeply affects how we view the world, but maybe I had made it to be worse than it was?

No. I know there were years of roses for moms, and standing for moms, and prayers for moms, and praises for moms. And many moms rightly deserve such honor. But I was never a mom.

And so while this year I could have held my head up high and been included in those parts of the service, it felt like justice for my infertile soul that the entire service wasn't dripping with motherhood comments. I don't know how many or even if there is anyone in our congregation struggling with infertility, but I know without a doubt that they appreciated the low-key approach, and that even if tears fell during the prayer for moms or the clapping at the end, the entire rest of the service was focused on the HOPE that is in Jesus, with nary a mention of motherhood. Heck, I appreciated the low-key approach, retroactively, as if I was still sitting there apart from the crowd.

Mother's Day is hard for so many people for so many reasons. Not everyone has a good relationship with their mom. Not everyone has a good relationship with their kids. Not everyone can be with their mom for brunch, or is even in the same country as their mom. Not everyone still has their children to receive a card from, or their moms to send a card to. And finally, with the obvious, not everyone is a mom.

I am hoping that our pastor made the decision to go easy on the Mother's Day hysteria in deference and sensitivity to those for whom today is not a happy celebration. I plan on letting him know how much I enjoyed the service this morning, and how much I appreciate how he has led our congregation.

I pray that if you are still waiting for your little one that today was graced by the sensitivity of loved ones in your life. I pray that those of us with little ones in our bellies will be blessed with healthy pregnancies and healthy little ones to fill our day next year. I pray that my friends who are already moms will continue to be thankful for the opportunity to raise a child.

Last year, I wrote this on Mother's Day:
It's such a hard day for those of us waiting,
but what makes it easier is that we know
that so many of you who have overcome infertility are praying for us!!

I may be pregnant today, but I have not forgotten what it felt like to be waiting. Be assured that on this day which seems to laugh in the face of infertility, that I am praying for all of you who are longing to overcome it. (HUG)


Mommy-In-Waiting said...

It sounds like it was a beautiful service focused on hope and reached out to those TTC as well. I'm glad you are going to thank him, I'm sure others feel the same way=)

Jennifer said...

I am so happy to hear this. we are advocates for not over-emphasizing mother's day in church because of the hurt it brings so many people. church is a place for rest & refuge, not pain. people should never have to avoid church, and yet many do on mother's day, even me. and I'm a pastor's wife. but now that my husband is the one preaching, and in charge, our church will always be aware, even if i am a mother some day.

Melissa said...

Our church downplayed Mother's Day but for a different reason. The belief is Mother's should be cherished every day...not just one particular day.

I love how our service was handled too :)

Glad you had a great day!

Bridget said...

You're so sweet. It sounds like you had a wonderful day and happy mother's day to you!

Coco said...

I'm glad that you had such a special day! Our services were a bit low key as well... except for instead of a rose at the end, they gave every woman (mother or not) some mint chocolate truffles. Mmmmm. I'll take chocolate over roses any day! :)

Trisha said...

That sounds like a nice service. Our Pastor does the same thing but I've been in places where it really makes you feel awkward especially if you're in a waiting stage. I hope you are doing well!

myjourneythruinfertility said...

thank you thank you thank you. as I sat in a meeting today with 30 other women, the entire start of the meeting was focused on celebrating babies somehow- sharing new baby and grandbaby arrivals and THEN my supervisor plays a video of a random baby from youtube just to make us laugh. . . I am sure my infertility impacted my perception, but talk about feeling alone. it was devastating to not be able to escape it even in my professional life. thanks for making me feel like their are some prayers with me today.

Stacey said...

I'm also glad to hear that there are some pastors who handle Mother's Day services appropriately. I don't think it should be ignored or anything, but I'd been to so many that left me feeling very isolated for being unable to have a child. I was even asked one time to work in the nursery so that the scheduled worker (a mother) could be in the service. (!)
I was relieved to be in a good service this past Sunday, also!

Hope you enjoyed the day.