Zelophehad’s Daughters

On Ignorance and Offense (includes FREE Bonus Discussion of Infertility!)

Posted by Eve

Patricia’s excellent series of posts about her experiences with her daughter Mattea over at T&S have got me thinking again about ignorance and offense. I don’t want to presume to compare Patricia’s experiences (which she rightly terms “unbelievable”) with my own, but I suspect all of us have experienced the hurt and frustration of blithely presumptuous, well-meaning drive-by comments on our lives, sometimes in church settings, sometimes from fallible church leaders. I imagine all of us have endured remarks that stick in our craws that we struggle to forgive and to eject from our souls. To start this post off I’ll reflect on a few such remarks in my own life. Then I’ll try to put those remarks in some sort of meaningful context.

In my experience it’s the areas in which we deviate from community norms that we draw such comments. My public deviations tend to be in the areas of family and education. When I decided to start my Ph.D. I had two different bishops dismiss my undertaking as unnecessary; one told my husband that I already had a master’s degree, and the other told us both that since I was already a teacher, further education was uncalled for. Those remarks didn’t sting; they bothered me insofar as they indicated cultural reservations about women’s higher education, but they bothered me as data points rather than personally, so to speak. I was able to turn a polite deaf ear because I had already long wrestled with the issue, at one point concluding that I was done with formal education and then receiving the distinct impression that I needed to start my doctorate. The serenity in my own choice that revelation gave me made my bishops’ remarks irrelevant.

(Here begins the FREE bonus discussion of infertility)

But of course I haven’t received that kind of clear personal revelation nor attained that kind of serenity about many aspects of my life. For most of us, the wrestle with various trials is ongoing, and in my experience it’s in those areas where the wounds are raw that the drive-by comments really sting. For me our inability to have children has been one such area. Infertility generally attracts two lines of questioning: people either want to fix the problem, or they want to account for it theologically (or both). Some pursing the first inquire into the most personal aspects of our lives, wanting to know diagnoses and precise details about medical interventions. I’ve learned to avoid answering their questions, partly because I’m a private person by nature, and partly because I’ve realized this line of inquiry is too often a fishing expedition for blame. Having nosed around in our reproductive life some implicitly condemn us for our infertility because we have not taken every possible medical step to conceive; perhaps they’re unaware of the enormous expense and the ethical dilemmas that accompany such interventions. The heroic, conquering against-all-odds hail-Mary think-your-way-to-success narratives that dominate American pop psychology are very powerful, and sometimes very cruel; the inevitable implication is that if you have not yet attained your heart’s desire, you have not wanted it enough. Any failure of life to conform to your desires is thus your personal failure. (I once drew some ire at an infertile-couples’ support group by asking why so many books were entitled “Overcoming Infertility.” Why not “Accepting Infertility”, or simply “Dealing with Infertility”? The response of one woman was to push the overcoming book back at me and tell me that I needed to take its message to heart. Back to the comforting illusion that we have all power over the circumstances of our lives.) To some we simply don’t have the right to struggle or to grieve if we haven’t bankrupted ourselves financially and emotionally in an all-out quest to have a child. It’s hard to explain to people in the grip of such thinking that while I certainly don’t believe medical interventions are inherently wrong, they have simply never felt right for us. Others offer various more prosaic solutions: herbs, boxer shorts, hot-tub avoidance, and a general prescription to “relax.” The endpoint of such lists is often adoption, another undertaking whose complexity and expense those who propose it rarely appreciate.

People tend to repeat the same stories to us over and over, repetitions I take as attempts to soothe their own theological anxiety. One acquaintance has repeatedly told us how a couple she knows could conceive only after adopting other children, and that God made them wait so that they would adopt. She has assured me that God knows I and my husband need this time together to establish the stability of our marriage before he will grant us a child. Another acquaintance has repeated to me the story of someone whose bishop advised her to quit her job, at which point she immediately got pregnant. Such stories are generally so well-meant I never say much in response, but I have complained to my sisters that every good Mormon has a theodicy machine in the garage, and when trouble strikes the neighbors, the Mormon goes to the garage and starts cranking out theodicies like so many self-published pamphlets. When people haul out their theodicy machines to justify God’s ways to me in my very own living room I always recall the explanatory frenzy into which the neighborhood I grew up in was thrown many years ago when a child in the ward drowned. Everyone claimed to know why it had happened: an older sister hadn’t been paying attention, a friend had egged him on, God had called the child home. But of course it is the nature of life that tragedy rarely comes with a clear theological explanation (and even more rarely are theological explanations revealed to the neighbors; strangely enough God seems to reveal the meaning of experiences to those whose experiences they are). And so we ourselves cruelly devise explanations of others’ tragedies in order to keep ourselves safe from them.

(And here ends the FREE bonus discussion of infertility)

However, enough about the specifics of my experiences, which are only incidentally the point of this post. The real points I want to consider in light of the specifics that happen to be part of my life, are these:

(1) I suspect most readers could fill in the paragraphs above with their own accounts of well-meaning (and not-so-well-meaning) insensitivity about every possible human experience, many exponentially more painful than those I’ve detailed: undesired singleness, unhappy marriage, divorce, widowhood, same-sex attraction, physical and mental illness, abusive parents, spouses, or strangers, bullying and cruelty, addictions, financial reversals, poverty, racism and other forms of discrimination and rejection, chronic mental or physical illness of children or parents, the deaths of parents, children, or other family members. Those are just some that come to mind: I’ve no doubt there are many others, some perhaps even more painful because they’re considered shameful and unspeakable.

(2) I’ve sometimes struggled with is the temptation to imagine my suffering unique and utterly incomprehensible to other, merer mortals, to tell myself extended sob stories all essentially entitled “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen.” This is, as we like to say, true but trivial. Yes, it’s true that no one else lives my life, no one else quite gets what it is to be me. Yes, the pain of infertility is real, and the pain of well-meaning comments is also real. But it’s vital for me to remember that both of these facts are equally true of every single other person on the planet, many of whom suffer in ways I can’t even begin to imagine in my comfortable privileged North American life, living in financial security married to a kind man who’s completely devoted to me and pursuing an education in the field of my choice.

(3) In considering what to make of experiences like infertility and the associated comments it draws, it’s frequently occurred to me that the perspective God wants me to take is exactly the opposite of the perspective I have sometimes taken in (2), above. So life hasn’t offered me the children I wanted and people are sometimes unkind in their well-meaning ignorance. The question this invites me to consider is all the ways I am ignorant of others’ sufferings, all the ways I unthinkingly foist unkind assumptions about people meriting their particular sorrows on them, or presume to prescribe facile answers to complex problems I don’t begin to understand.

(4) It’s both telling and frightening to me that I can remember so clearly the unthinking comments others have made on my life (although detailing them as I have above has been surprisingly healing, and placing them in a broader context has helped me loose them of some of their power). But as I consider what unthinking comments I myself might have made, they are fewer and vaguer. I remember at nineteen asking a woman I worked with whose daughter was in an abusive marriage, “Why doesn’t she just leave him?”, a comment that now strikes me as hopelessly insensitive and naive. When I lived in Wymount I remember being stunned when someone suggested there was an educational hierarchy among the women in the ward. I myself was in graduate school and therefore toward the top of the hierarchy, which is undoubtedly why I had never even noticed is existence. (Some years ago it took a patient and diplomatic Lynnette a while to persuade me, the oblivious oldest child, that there was similar family hierarchy of siblings and that, um, well, I might not be in the best position to appreciate what it might be like to be a little further down the line.) But when I think about my own insensitivity I remember more than anything a tone I’ve sometimes evoked in others with prying questions–a tone of restrained, tired patience that I’ve come to recognize retrospectively as I’ve used it myself in responding to others’ well-meaning inquiries and suggestions about personal matters like infertility.

I realize this is the kind of overlong, rambling, personal post that can be difficult to respond to, and so if it doesn’t draw much response I won’t be surprised. But what I take from all this is the need to remember and appreciate my ignorance of others’ lives, even (maybe especially) the lives of those closest to me. There’s so much of each other we just don’t know, so little of the underlying complexities may appear in others’ visible acts. Or as the Indigo Girls put it so memorably, I’ve got to learn to respect what I don’t understand–and remember that when it comes to other people, I have to take it as axiomatic that any understanding I have is partial and will always be. Other people are no less than a sacred mystery.

And that, my dear brothers and sisters, is What My Infertility Means to Me. (At least, that’s what it means today. Who knows what stunning realization I’ll have tomorrow that I can’t currently imagine?)

25 Responses to “On Ignorance and Offense (includes FREE Bonus Discussion of Infertility!)”

  1. 1.

    Eve,

    After reading several of your wonderful discussions along this line — this post being the most developed that I recall, really setting out the issues in depth — I’ve come to the conclusion that you’re not really infertile.

    You seem to have had a few unfortunate experiences (or lack thereof) in physical reproduction area. But I don’t see how someone who writes these sorts of posts can call herself infertile. Your mind and soul, creativity and talent, are among the most fertile I know; and your progeny are truly remarkable.

    Of course, now that we’ve established that you’re not really infertile, you’ll have to discuss other things. :)

    Either that, or I can suggesting a place where you can get a St.-John’s-Wort colonic that is _guaranteed_ to fix any physical issues you have. Why, my cousin’s wife had _just_ the same issue, and then she went to see Dr. Sorenson at the herbal store, and he said . . . :P

  2. 2.

    Eve, wonderful post! I’m sorry–I know most of this is serious stuff–but what I can’t help taking away is the image of all of us Mormons going to our garages to crank up our theodicy machines when trouble strikes people around us. I’m trying to picture what such a machine would look like. Perhaps some Rube Goldberg-inspired cross between a blender, a lawn mower, and a printing press? :)

  3. 3.

    Thank you.

    I also really love the image of the theodicy machine.

  4. 4.

    Thanks, Eve. We should compare notes on some of this stuff.

  5. 5.

    I really don’t understand how I can be more impressed with each post that you write, Eve. You’re my blogging hero.
    You helped me understand my feelings when people say insensitive things.
    One home teacher attributed my liberal political leanings to my being ‘young and rebellious.’ I nearly threw him out of the house. Did I mention he was EQP? But, alas, you pointed out that the insensitive comments come when we deviate from the norm, and being a Democrat and a Mormon, I certainly have.
    Of course this isn’t the same as the heartwrenching issues you mention, but it still fits within the description you gave.
    The other part of your post that I found particularly useful was identifying how we can make these unkind comments without knowing it. I am probably more guilty than most, but from reading your post and Patricia’s, I am more determined to listen, and validate than to spew out theodicies. (I’ll have to find a hiding spot for my machine)
    So what’s the take-home lesson? Perhaps you, and others, can give some guidance about what you would like to hear, or what some people have said that you have appreciated. When I’ve had friends tell me about their very difficult trials, I am sometimes speechless, and totally say the wrong thing because I don’t know the right thing. I know that listening is the best answer, but sometimes I think I have to say something, anything, to help them feel better.
    Perhaps that’s the problem. Maybe I think I can make them feel better when I really can’t. So I shouldn’t try.
    Anyway, thanks for the great post. (I was going to apologize for the lengthy comment, but I’m trying to boost my average comment length numbers for next year’s ‘Nacle Numbers data) :)

  6. 6.

    I really enjoyed watching you develop your thoughts 1-4, and — once I stopped trying to figure out which bishops they were and whether or not I know them :) — I was especially happy to see you go the “what have I said to other people” route. It’s so easy to fall into the well-meaning but insensitive comment trap. It terrifies me to the point where I usually say nothing in those situations, and run the risk of coming accross as cold and insensitive. Maybe you can also help me understand how to not be so paralyzed by that fear.

    And of course I also loved the theodicy machine anaology, although I have always considered them more portable than that — more like little factories that we carry around in our jeans.

  7. 7.

    Eve, now that I think about it more, the theodicy machine sounds like something social psychologists call “just world” thinking. It works just as you described. I see some Bad Thing happen to someone near me. I worry that such a Bad Thing might happen to me. To comfort myself, I reason out a way in which the Bad Thing must have been brought on by the person’s bad choices, choices which, needless to say, I would never make. Therefore, I can pat myself on the back and feel safe: no Bad Things will befall me!

    Jessawhy, your stats are looking good, but you’ll have to keep this up for eight more months to be next year’s ‘nacle numbers comment length champion. ;)

  8. 8.

    the machine in the garage imagery works for me too. good one!

  9. 9.

    I picture these theodicy machines in our brains–totally portable–looking like Shel Silverstein’s Homework Machine.

    I have often wished a red flag popped up when I said something offensive just as it does when I hear something offensive. I guess I should really wish the red flag popped up when I merely thought it but before I said it.

  10. 10.

    This is a beautifully introspective post, and to me, it represents what I believe Christianity is. Sure, people are insensitive sometimes, but when we realize that we are, too, and it’s not just everybody out there being mean to me, but that I am that someone to other people as well sometimes, only then can we figure out how to be Christians.

  11. 11.

    Wonderful post, Eve.

    ESO, if you ever get that red flag working, please let me know how you did it.

  12. 12.

    Very good Eve, a post I could afford to read often.

  13. 13.

    Eve, wonderfully thought and beautiflly expressed, thank you.

    Ziff #2, the Mormon theodicy machine I think is more wheat grinder than lawn mower…

  14. 14.

    and then receiving the distinct impression that I needed to start my doctorate. The serenity in my own choice that revelation gave me made my bishops’ remarks irrelevant

    Indeed. It is that sort of revelation that kept my wife going through graduate school. I still cringe when I look back at just how hard it was.

    There’s so much of each other we just don’t know, so little of the underlying complexities may appear in others’ visible acts. Or as the Indigo Girls put it so memorably, I’ve got to learn to respect what I don’t understand–and remember that when it comes to other people, I have to take it as axiomatic that any understanding I have is partial and will always be. Other people are no less than a sacred mystery.

    I’m glad I logged on today at lunch. That was worth reading.

  15. 15.

    There’s so much of each other we just don’t know, so little of the underlying complexities may appear in others’ visible acts. . . . remember that when it comes to other people, I have to take it as axiomatic that any understanding I have is partial and will always be. Other people are no less than a sacred mystery.

    This is interesting, Eve, and I almost certain agree with you. In many ways, it is presumptuous to say “I understand” to anybody. And yet, I also hope that there are some experiences which reinforce our common humanity. There are times when I have considered myself to be unique, but upon reflection was forced to conclude that my experience was simply part of martality. I just don’t know.

  16. 16.

    My own view on this subject is colored by having experienced some of the more difficult things that people tend to shy away from. People have a hard time thinking about going through those things, and I understand that.

    We had lots of experience with all sorts of comments. It was hard to hide what our family was going through, sometimes. And I completely agree that many people wanted to help fix things or try to come up with a logical reason why this was happening to us – thus also creating a reason why it couldn’t happen to them (though they may not have realized they were doing that). I also understand the need to do that.

    I do believe people can understand basic emotion. They know what fear feels like. They know what it feels like to feel sad, overwhelmed, thankful, determined – the list goes on. The key is finding when they were sad or fearful and the Lord helped give them strength to face it. Then they understand, at least enough. Even if they don’t understand the experience.

    Notice I didn’t say specifically what we went through :) It sometimes takes a bit more for me to reveal that now. Simply because I also don’t wish to always be wearing my trials on my sleeve so to speak. Maybe that reveals more than I’d like :)

    I just wish that the fact that I had those experience were a guarantee that I would always pause a second or two before speaking so everything I say would always be the way I meant to say it.

  17. 17.

    it is the nature of life that tragedy rarely comes with a clear theological explanation (and even more rarely are theological explanations revealed to the neighbors; strangely enough God seems to reveal the meaning of experiences to those whose experiences they are). And so we ourselves cruelly devise explanations of others’ tragedies in order to keep ourselves safe from them.

    Indeed. I’ve seen a lot of that, I’m not sure it was really a fertility rant so much as a good discussion of how people react to trial and affliction by increasing it for others.

  18. 18.

    loved the post Eve, but before I had anything soul-alteringly hard happen to me, I kept my theodicy machine in the craft room, so my theodicies I made for others would be perfectly pretty and embellished and thematic for the occasion. Not until I began receiving such theodicies did I realize that no matter how great they appear on the surface, they are far less comforting than a heart felt hug :)

    I learned from a great parenting teacher that God speaks in the pause between when we receive data and when we react. Like Mommom I hope I can embrace the pause more.

    And having been through my own trials and struggles, some universally horrific and others too embarrassing to share because of how silly they are, I am trying to remember that there is a story behind every face and action – I wish I could wear my story on my sleeve so people would know the “oh, that’s why she . . . ” for my crazy or annoying behavior.

    I have a friend who at first just seemed petty to me because she was very wrapped up in what was “fair” – she would complain that everyone chipped in different amounts for the teachers gift but then they still all got to sign the card, etc, etc. I felt like it was negative and annoying, but really liked her despite it. About 6 months into our relationship, I found out her mother had long before died of breast cancer and her reaction was how unfair she felt it was that she did not have a mother for crucial moments of her life. Knowing this, I am so much more tolerant and understanding of her motives and I no longer find it annoying. Imagine how much better we would treat each other if we knew “the story” about everyone, or if we didn’t, we silently made up a good one in its place.

    Thanks Eve for reminding me that everyone is a sacred mystery.

  19. 19.

    Thanks for the many kind words and thoughtful observations on this long, loooong post.

    I’m glad many of you liked the theodicy machine. Personally I imagine each theodicy machine is as unique as its owner–mine is modeled on the printing press, although Ziff’s lawnmower and blender parts and KLC’s wheat grinder parts and ESO’s homework machine suggest the inevitable invention of the manly Theodicy 2.0: Job’s Comforters, with fifteen speeds and optional GA quote and scripture inserters. I also very much like mel’s suggestion that some Relief Society theodicy machines are kept in the craft room so that the products can be thematically coordinated to season and tragedy.

    Glenn’s going to invent the Theodicy software that will allow it to be carried about on a PDA :)

    And I loved Mel’s story about her friend who got irritated about petty things after her mother’s death. I sometimes imagine that’s how God sees things, beneath all the grumpy, petty, crazy, annoying behavior that we all sometimes indulge in there’s always a story. At least that’s how I try to imagine it.

    I wish I could wear my story on my sleeve so people would know the “oh, that’s why she . . . ” for my crazy or annoying behavior.

    Me too.

    Mommom said,

    I just wish that the fact that I had those experience were a guarantee that I would always pause a second or two before speaking so everything I say would always be the way I meant to say it.

    Me too on that one as well. I think that’s the difficult gap between self and other I’m trying to bridge here–so I know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of the theodicy machine’s outputs on some issues; how can I translate that into not pointing my own theodicy machine at other people on other issues I haven’t personally experienced?

    And that’s where Mark’s comment comes in.

    In many ways, it is presumptuous to say “I understand” to anybody. And yet, I also hope that there are some experiences which reinforce our common humanity.

    I wonder about this tension as well; in what sense precisely are our experiences unique, and in what sense they are also part of our common inheritance as fallen human beings. I guess the answer is always both. But you make an excellent point: without that commonality to our experiences we wouldn’t be able to feel for each other in any sense at all.

    Ethesis, thanks for your always kind words. It’s comforting to hear about your wife’s similar experience going through graduate school. Thanks as well to KLC, ESO, Jacob J, cchrissyy, Glenn, and Zillah for stopping by. Steve, yep, definitely, I’d love to compare notes.

    jesswhy, I’m glad you liked the post, although I should probably point you to an embarrassing past exchange or two so that you can see how unheroic my blogging sometimes is. ;)

    You pose an excellent question, one I’ve thought about off and on for years without coming to any good conclusions.

    So what’s the take-home lesson? Perhaps you, and others, can give some guidance about what you would like to hear, or what some people have said that you have appreciated. When I’ve had friends tell me about their very difficult trials, I am sometimes speechless, and totally say the wrong thing because I don’t know the right thing. I know that listening is the best answer, but sometimes I think I have to say something, anything, to help them feel better.
    Perhaps that’s the problem. Maybe I think I can make them feel better when I really can’t. So I shouldn’t try.

    To some extent we’re all bound by ourselves, our own frames of reference and desires. Personally I don’t tend to like advice or explanations; I prefer listening and attempts to understand. But something else I’ve sometimes wondered when people do provide advice or explanations is that perhaps that’s the kind of thing they themselves would want in such circumstances. IN some ways the only answer to such dilemmas is the time and effort and commitment of investing in long-term relationships with people so that we come to know them and their needs.

    But I think your final point about simply giving people space to feel sorrow is crucial. Sometimes when I’ve felt really bad, particularly at church I’ve found that people can’t allow that; they want to fix things, make them better, when I simply want the reality and difficulty of the problem to be acknowledged. I don’t expect anyone at church or anywhere else to fix my problems; they’re my problems, and some of them are up to me to fix, and some of them simply have to be endured. I think the culture is changing, but for some people the acknowledgment of sorrow and intractable difficulty is already a sign of defeat, and so they tend to get very anxious when confronted with difficulty and get out their theodicy machines to console themselves in my presence.

    The really hard part, though, is resisting the temptation to do the same myself, or trying to understand when I myself have been less than compassionate and charitable or more worried about managing my own feelings than about actually extending myself to someone else.

    Your questions are excellent, and those are the best answers I can muster. But I think working out how to love one another as the gospel requires is a lifelong process, and we all make many, many missteps. Learning to overlook one another’s missteps and developing the moral imagination to posit a story behind the annoying act is also part of that.

    Like ESO and Ann I’d like a red flag that alerts me when I’m about to say something insensitive. In fact, I’d like to be able to exchange my theodicy machine for a red flag.

  20. 20.

    Just a couple of other things.

    jessawhy’s story about her home teacher attributing her liberal political ideas to her youth and rebellion; yeah, I’ve had that experience as well. My family tend to be Democrats, while my husband’s tend to be Republicans. My bother- and sister-in-law once told us we were Democrats only because we were students, and once we graduated and entered the “real world” we’d get over it.

    As we’ve discussed around here before, (http://zelophehadsdaughters.com/2007/12/29/the-stages-of-faith/),
    we all have a tendency to posit ourselves and our current conclusions about the world as the endpoint of others’ spiritual, emotional, and political trajectories and to see others as merely less well developed versions of ourselves. I think that accepting the sacred mystery of others involves resisting such notions.

    Kaimi, are the herbs chocolate-covered? That’s how I know that foods are true. If they have chocolate in them, they are true. :D

  21. 21.

    And a couple more things.

    Thanks to Ziff for the comparison to just world theory; it’s a very apt one. I think religious contexts are (for obvious reasons) particularly fertile grounds.

    Glenn, one of the bishops you definitely didn’t know; he was a great guy, actually, extremely kind and thoughtful, just very conservative on gender roles. The other, who was our bishop when we were in a different ward but the same stake as your family, you might have known. I had a harder time with him. In the same conversation in which he told me it was pointless to return to school he also told my husband and me that he thought we ought to have a baby that year. We looked at each other and said, “That would be nice!” But it went completely over his head.

  22. 22.

    I know the primary focus of this post wasn’t infertility, but I just had to tell you how much I identified with what you had to say. I could write a book of all the inane things people have said to me. We did 1 round of IVF (3 viable eggs, 2 embryos, no pregnancy) and I had to have a hysterectomy about 18 months later. I remember one of my best friends, a week or two after the results of the IVF pregnancy test, asking me if it was like if she had a miscarriage. I bit my lip and didn’t tell her that yes, it was like if she had a miscarriage after 12 years of trying and paying thousands of dollars for that miscarriage. And then there are all the people who want to know why we “don’t just adopt,” as if it were (a) that easy and (b) any of their business.

    And I know they mean well, but they can’t know what’s right for me and my husband and what the Lord has intended for us.

  23. 23.

    Faith, I’m sorry to hear about what you’ve been through. Your experience sounds unbelievably painful. Frankly, I think it dwarfs mine.

    One of the reasons I haven’t wanted to do IVF is that I don’t know if I could bear it if it didn’t work; I don’t think I could stand to get my hopes elevated and then crushed in that way.

    One of these days some of us should put our heads together and write a book on infertility–in fact, come to think of it, I think Janet of FMH has (or at one point had) such a project underway.

  24. 24.

    Eve–
    Seriously, the book needs to be written. Something along the lines of ‘helping those struggling with infertility’ in which the title will fool the nosy into buying it and hopefully read it to discover they should probably say a lot less, even if it is out of love.

  25. 25.

    I’ve found that something that really comforts me in infertility is the opportunities I have to interact with other people’s children. When we go over to visit my brother-in-law, I’m the one that plays with the kids. When I go over to family reunions, I like to play with the kids. I loved it when my bishop asked me to stay overnight and babysit his family while he and his wife were gone on an outing. I love my cub scout calling. I loved my primary pianist calling.

    I get people asking me every once in a while why we don’t have children. They come out with all those theories about why I don’t have them yet. I think the thing about those theories is that none of them really help me deal with it. What helps me deal with it is when I start asking myself, “What am I supposed to learn from this?” and “What are the best things that I can do with my life, since I can’t have kids?”

    When I look back at my seven years of childless marriage, I feel that my greatest accomplishment that came out of that was that I wrote a book “Isaiah Insights to Teenage Temptations” (which is now posted online here… http://scriptorium-blogorium.freehostia.com/Site/Preface.html) and the spiritual growth and change that came out of that writing process has made a huge difference in my life! I don’t know that I would have been able to do that at all if I had little munchkins running around.

    Someday when I’m resurrected I will be able to have lots of children, but in the meantime, I think that if people invited me over to play with their kids, that would be more comforting than any theory they could offer.

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