An Outcast in My Own Faith

I’ve got to get something off my chest.  In the last few years I’ve been through  a crisis of faith.  Don’t worry, it’s not the earth shattering type of crisis of “Do I believe in God or not?”  No, He’s there.  There’s too much evidence in history, the world, and in my life to prove that, but my crisis has to do with the immense isolation I feel as a childless woman and how utterly out of place I feel in the Christian community.  Right now part of me wants to run far away from church and the CONSTANT, GLARING reminders that my life is so much less than the Christian family ideal.  I even heard a sermon recently, citing scripture, that childlessness is a curse;  however, a large part of me desperately wants to remain in church because I’ve always been a part of the church, and it holds an important place in my heart.

Things have gotten so bad  I can’t even listen to Christian radio very much anymore because every station is peppered with stories about babies and children.  There has been a recurring promo on one station where the D.J. gushes on about  his 2-year-old telling him he loves him for the first time.  There was another station who live reported on the labor and delivery of one it’s D.J.s, and they even interviewed her in her hospital room within a few hours of delivery.   After that I wrote that station.  I even got a nice understanding response, but the baby-fest continued.    Many mornings I start out listening to Christian radio, but usually by the time I get to work I’ve switched to a classic rock station.  It may not be faith building, but at least it doesn’t remind me of what I don’t have.

Here’s another example… last week I had several people (including my mother) ask if my  hubby and I had seen the movie “Courageous”.  When I said, “no”.  Everyone said, “Oh, but you should!”  I’m sure it’s a great movie as most Sherwood Films have been, but it’s about fatherhood.  What I wanted to say very sarcastically was, “Yes, I have taken my childless-not-by-choice husband to see a movie about fatherhood.  We made a b-line to the theater for that one!”  I could make a sure-fire bet on the response to that too.  It would be, “Oh, but he’s a father to many!”  No, he’s not.  He’s a son, an uncle, and a husband, but he’s not a father as much as I’m not a mother.  Platitudes don’t help at all.  They only hurt.  That’s why I don’t waste my breath anymore.   It’s like our situation is so invisible that even those closest to us in our church and family cannot fathom that we wouldn’t want to rush out to every family-oriented movie or event.

So as a 43-year-old woman trying to move on from 20+ years of infertility it’s very difficult to move on in when you’re in a culture which in my opinion has almost come to the point of worshiping children.  Yes, children are a blessing from the Lord, but they are not the ONLY blessing.  I honestly think too much emphasis is placed upon children.  I’ve also noticed a disturbing trend developing…than many parents will not take their children out of church service if they are disturbing the service, and no one is saying anything about it.  Well, I will say on the interwebz that it’s very insensitive and downright rude.  Churches put a lot of time in their children’s programs, so take them there and let the rest of us worship in peace.  Johnny’s and Susie’s high-pitched squeals are not cute to anyone but you.

So, as a childless person simply attending church on Sunday is often rife with constant reminders, and sometimes even condemnation that we are not in the parent club and that we are somehow less blessed.

I think I’ve  said this before, but sometimes I want to start “The Church of the Barren Womb”, but deep down inside I know that’s not the answer either.  It really seems that  I have to continue living a familiar world where I’m out of place.


21 thoughts on “An Outcast in My Own Faith

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  1. Quite the puzzling situation…Jesus visited/chose/stayed with the outcasts and outsiders of the society of His day and *today* SO many churches have made an idol out of families/children and ” life groups ” (i.e, we’re going to only be with ” Christians ” who resemble us). Thank you for this blog post. Been there, doing that situation also.

    1. Tacomaroamer,

      Sorry you find yourself in this situation also. I know part of the problem is my attitude because I see through a childless-not-by-choice worldview, but I’ve also heard others with children who are more level-headed about their kids talk about how our society has become so child-centric that the children are ruling families. I know that children are important, but when they start becoming the sole focus of everything in life it’s not healthy for them or for the adults. I live in the Bible belt…grew up here and have been here all my life, and it wasn’t always that way. I remember when children were the back of the line for everything…meals at church etc., now the children are first, and if they act out then it its thought of as cute. I don’t ascribe to the old adage of “Children should be see and not heard”, but I do think children need to understand their place among adults and be taught discipline and respect. I know several families who are doing a terrific job and raising their kids right, but I am noticing with the further breakdown of social norms and the nuclear family that children are sorely lacking in the discipline department for the most part.

      As far as my place in the church I’m not single, so I can’t join the singles group, but yet my husband is rarely present with me at church due to work…at least for the time being. So, my tendency is just to go to worship on Sunday mornings, and some days even that’s difficult.

      Part of my problem at this stage of my life is I’m not able to really be active in the church as much as I used to be. This is due to circumstances as we’re often traveling on weekends to see our parents etc. Now that my husband has taken a job in another city, and I’m remaining in our current city (commuter marriage) I really feel out of place in worshipping by myself.

      1. I am 39 and can’t have children. I remember perfectly the time when children were as you said” back of the line”. I was one of those children. When I was a child, I wasn’t permitted to interrupt adults, and we had to wait for the grownups to fix their plates and eat first. I’m not complaining about this, in fact I wish children were still brought up to show their elders respect. The problem I have is this, when I was growing up I was put last and had to stay in my place, and now that I am an adult I just naturally assumed that I would get the same respect from children that I had to show to adults. Not so, in fact the opposite is true. When I am on the phone or over at my parents or sister’s house and we are talking or eating or whatever, if one of her young daughters or son wants to speak my parents(shock of all shocks) will say “hold on ——needs to talk now” or “do you mind moving? Little Billy won’t be quiet unless he gets to sit in the chair your in”. So I had to be come second to adults during my childhood, and now I come second to children during my adulthood. And because I am childless I get even less respect from other adults.

      2. So sorry for the double posts, I am new here. I grew up a devote church goer. We rarely missed a meeting. But my church is so family oriented that as I grew older and no children came to me, I was treated more and more like an outcast. I finally became so uncomfortable with the looks and questions that I drifted away from my faith.

  2. Hi. I was raised Catholic, but my husband is Muslim. I believe in God, but I cannot say that I am religious. Still, I do very much feel the need to become more spiritual, and I think I’ll be doing it through reading and quiet meditation.

    I do completely agree with you when it comes to childworship. If you want some comic relief on this, here’s a good one:

    It’s George Carlin, so it is of course crude….

    Take it easy on yourself. I’m trying really hard to block myself off from other people’s judgements and expectations, and just go into my own zone, find things that are important to me and hopefully find others that share those ideas/goals. The funny thing is that for me, way before infertility, the idea of volunteering with older adults and nursing homes really appealed to me. I was a teacher, but always preferred the older kids (high school) because I liked adult conversation and interaction. I just sort of forgot all these things about myself when the biological clock wound down and the social pressure about having children started getting to me.

    Not long ago, I caught a little bit of a sci-fi futuristic film, where the woman talks about how people go all goo goo gah gah over kids and think their kids are so special… and then she asks, “How come we have so many mediocre adults?”

  3. So sorry you are feeling this way. I understand. My ties to organized religion have never been as strong as yours, but one reason why stopped attending church regularly was certainly because we were finding it difficult to cope with the child & family-centric aspects of the service & other programs. I think you make a great point about how churches & society generally have gotten to the point of worshipping children & parenting. “Children are a blessing, but they are not the ONLY blessing” — so very true.

  4. I have to admit I feel the same way. I keep wondering where my place is. My husband doesn’t attend with me, and we don’t have children because he didn’t want any. So, there’s not a lot of understanding there, and it’s difficult attending by myself. I’m not in “the club”.

    Wish you lived in the bay area – I’d love to attend church with you :-).

  5. I just read this today and I have to tell you that I am in the same boat. I haven’t been to Mass in a while – I’m Catholic. It’s hard for me not to go – but it’s very much the same with the family being the be all and end all. I admit to parish shopping. I want to be somewhere I feel comfortable. The last Mass I attended, the sermon was about how if you pray enough, you will get what you want. Yet there I sat childless, proof that the priest was so wrong. So, I crossed another parish off my list. I’m getting ready to try again though and am hopeful that I will find a place i fit in.

  6. What I’d like to say to the original poster is to be happy with those that have what you desire. Perhaps the lesson here is to find joy in spite of your situation and not to focus on it. Whatever we focus on e-x-p-a-n-d-s and becomes far larger in our heart and mind. When we think about our lack, it becomes depressing and discouraging. So I would find peace in where you are, knowing that God promises to give you the desires of your heart. Those who are faithful to God can count on that. I would seek Him quietly about the solution if you have not. Perhaps by now you’ve sought all kinds of answers. But there is always the answer because God is unlimited in wisdom. He knows why you haven’t conceived. Also, maybe He wants you to first adopt someone else’s baby they can’t raise. I would have quiet reflection and come into that place with peace. God doesn’t generally speak when we are not calm. His voice is still and small. Also, get out of a church where you aren’t comfortable for whatetver reason. If it’s not teaching what you need, find another one. If it’s too noisey, find another one. They are not all alike. I just left a church where I was one of the Pastors. The disorder among the children was unbelievable and not in line with my concept of reverance. So don’t hestitate to seek God for the place He would plant you, so that your needs are met. Perhaps a church that has a young marrieds group would be helpful, to fellowship with those who don’t yet have children. God can even lead you to couples that don’t desire children, where childlessness won’t be an issue. Or perhaps you can network with couples who are in your position so you can identify with each other. God will guide you as you trust Him. Some of the great things about God is that He knwos all, sees all, can do all and desires to grant our desires. But I encourage you not to focus your attention on not having a child. Learn to rise above that, regardless of how important it is. That focus may be keeping your attention from other joys and from solutions. Focusing on what we don’t have or don’t want only brings discouragment. There are also lessons in these great trials. They have very valuable purpose. It will empower you when you divert your attention to other things that bring joy and when you handle that more lightly. It’s wise to focus on what we do want and not on what we don’t. What we focus on, we give power to. So I encourage you to focus on things that bring joy and try the letting go lesson and put this great desire in God’s hands. He will not forget and He does have the precise solution. That is the neat thing about God, He’s so personal. So I encourage you to try new things. Get in a church environent that is more suited to you. You will find one if you keep looking. It could take some looking. Also, focus on the greatest of God. Your need or desire is not greater than God. If I have learned anything amid many years of trials, it’s that there is ALWAYS a solution to EVERY situation. You will find God’s solution if you allow Him to develop things in you through this experience. Learn to trust Him more and have greater faith. There is power in letting go. To hold too tightly to things means we have fear. Fear says, “what will happen if I let go?” But we can entrust all things to a loving and powerful God. He is greater than any problem or need we will ever have. Blessings in every area of your life. Helen.

    1. You are absolutely right Helen and I wonder if you are childless. Something tells me you must have children. I can relate to the original poster because even of you don’t focus on being childless it is always a reminder in your face and those not in the same situation cannot relate. Not only am I childless but over 45 and Single. I work and always have very closely with the youth at church but it does not replace what you have lost. I also have lived with and supported my Sister and nephew for many years (he’s 25) yet it’s not like having your own. Its a stage of life that keeps you stuck and totally not the same as being younger in the same circumstance. I know God has a plan and I have faith yet in twenty years although the desire to have children has lessened (only because I’ve been through tough situations with my nephew and now I’m old) the thought of never having a family is awful and seems terribly unfair. Feels like so many years have been lost. I know that this too shall pass. I COMPLETELY understand and relate to the original poster. May God bless her. SD

  7. Vicki
    I am so glad I found your blog.
    Your post was written just for me. I have felt the same in all aspects of your Oct. 28 post.
    I have been a christian all my life, and married to my husband for 15 years. We are coming to terms with our childfree life. Most days are good, but there will always be those days.
    I have felt, for a while. that the church can be a lonely place for a childfree couple. The church is very family-centered. I know it can be lonely for anyone, who, well feels alone. And I don’t want to downplay others’ trials, but I cannot seem to find a group (in any church) that centers around married folks who do not have children. There are tons of singles groups, retired groups, youth, but not mid aged people like me. But, I guess that makes these blogs even more special.
    Thank you for your time and postings. I look forward to reading them.

  8. I’m right there with you. Just found your blog and I feel a connection to your thinking and experiences. I can’t go to church anymore. And, my life it’s right without it. I’ve got to find a way to reconnect with God again…but I know it’s not in a sanctuary filled with perfect Moms, Dads and their children. That’s not the church I need right now….unless it is. I just don’t know.

    What I DO know is that I can’t go to church without crying uncontrollably like a mad woman.

  9. Thank you beyond words for speaking (or typing) the words and feelings I can not express myself. It’s like you read my heart.

  10. I just found your blog and love it. I am a married, 37 yr old who wants desperately to have a child. Funny thing is, up to a few years ago, I wasn’t sure I wanted children. It’s only been recently that my biological clock kicked in big time. Now I’m afraid it might be too late. My husband travels alot for work, so in addition to my irregular periods, it’s been challenging having him nearby at my fertile time of the month. It’s difficult when my friends are all getting pregnant with their second or third child, and talk about how they don’t know if it was the right decision to have another. I’m a born again Christian, yet struggle with why God won’t bless me with a baby. It’s a tug or war, some days feeling close to God and understanding his purpose in my life and other days not wanting to even take the time to pray about it. Let’s face it. The purpose of a woman was to populate the world, and we will never be able to escape people and organizations and religion or anything else’s focus on that. And I think childless woman have a heightened sensitivity to things that other people may not notice. I hope that you don’t give up on God though. I know in my heart He feels my pain, wants me to have a happy fulfilling life, and is walking this journey with me. God cares most that you listen to Him, not those around you. Thank you for your courage and honesty.

  11. I understand exactly what you are talking about. I am a 49 year old professional lady who did not meet “Mr. Right” until a few years ago, so I did not have the option of having children in a family unit. It was obviously not God’s plan for my life, but apparently the women at our church think God made a mistake. I am finding it very depressing to go to church these days. Almost every family in our church, except for 2 or 3, have children … some 4 or 5. I think that’s great. But for the most part, I am invisible. I’ve attended many ladies bible functions, and everyone talks to their friends they’ve known since their kids were small and I am, again, invisible. I introduce myself to others when they actually stop talking for a moment and I can sneak in a “HI,” but it goes nowhere. After church when my husband and I get up and hope to mingle, everyone around us rushes to their friends and we stroll slowly and loiter, but everyone is busy. I think part of the problem is that churches are more cliquish than ever and the folks who have been there a long time and have many friends don’t realize that they are shutting out the new folks. But I do believe that the childless issue is the main culprit because several of the ladies who are the most vocal about children have been “in your face” rude to me and I don’t even know them! I hope you’ve found a church with more loving people. The sad thing is, the folks who are doing this will never read a blog post like this…!

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