It’s strange walking around being married for 11 years and having no kids. Yes, I’ll own that. My parents raised me not to care about what people think, so I’ve always been a little strange. Case in point: I had this stuffed clown that I slept with every night until I was 22. I’m not sure which is more strange: not having kids after all these years of marriage, or not getting rid of that clown. (For those of you who hate clowns, don’t worry, I’m not going to talk about it anymore. Also, I’m not a psycho. My grandma gave it to me when I was a kid.)
Anyway, my lack of children has arrived at the “strange” stage. After all, having kids is the natural way of things. You get married. You do things married people do, and eventually, that leads to kids. We see it happen all around us all the time.
Except, sometimes it doesn’t.
Since having children has not been a part of my life, it’s still somewhat of a shock every time a friend tells me she’s pregnant. Again, my brain recognizes this is what’s supposed to happen. Getting pregnant is what follows for people who get married. But since it’s never happened for me, this news can still be like a siren blaring: “You’re different. You’re abnormal. You’re other.”
This is the feeling the hate. I’ve always been fine being a little odd, being the outsider in a group, or the one everyone rolls their eyes at because I try to crack a corny joke. But odd and other are two different things. And no one wants to be completely other.
Except, as Christians, that’s exactly what Jesus calls us to be.
In John 17:14, Jesus prayed, “I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.”
Christians are supposed to be weird. I mean, we cling to some crazy notions. There ‘s the flood and the ark, the plagues and parting of the Red Sea, and the day when the sun stood still. But more than that, our whole life is banking on the fact that this man named Jesus really was the Son of God, that His death was the final sacrifice for our sin, and that He was resurrected. More than that, “we believe [this] previously dead man is going to show up in the sky, on a horse” at the end of time.*
All that to say, if I don’t already feel somewhat like a stranger on earth because of Jesus (Heb. 11:13), I have bigger problems than my infertility.
Still, what do we do with that otherness feeling, whether it’s for being a Christian or for being infertile? Do we self-loathe or shake our fists at God? Do we isolate or pity ourselves? Sure, we might do those things for a while, but eventually, they will get old, and soon we will realize that God has more for us.
Instead, we use that otherness feeling to drive us to serve “the other.” We love the outcast and minister to the hurting. We take care of the foreigner and provide for the orphan. We know what it’s like to feel unwanted and unsafe, so we enter into spaces where others feel that way too. We can help the stranger because we are strangers ourselves. This is the way of meekness. This is the way of Jesus.
Who knows? Maybe one reason God gave us infertility is so we’d have to live with that feeling of otherness in the core of our being, that we might better empathize with others in society, that we might serve them wholeheartedly, and that we might bring them to Jesus who can show them the way of love too. Indeed, if any part of our infertility makes us better ministers of the gospel, then what a glorious strangeness it is!