“Baby Sunday”

23 08 2007

That’s someone else’s term, coined about this past Sunday. God was gracious in helping me preach with confidence, and not with anger and frustration as I looked out into the congregation and saw two beautiful babies and one woman recently pregnant with her fourth child. Baby Sunday. I preached, and I said hi afterwards, and I was pastoral, except a little avoidance –ok, maybe a lot of avoidance–of the mass of people surrounding the visitors (former members) with their new baby. Mass of people. Wonderful, yet hard. I talked at length about this issue with the visitor–both before her visit (via email) and on Baby Sunday. We had a great discussion, both with tears, because we love each other, we are friends, but also acknowledge how hard this baby/no-baby issue is for relationships.

Except for needing to avoid the mass-surrounding-babies after church, I did pretty well. I actually thought I did quite well, all things considered… But it hit me later. When I was watching a movie Sunday night, I found myself crying more than necessary for the movie I had already seen three times.. I realized, “A-ha.. this is about Baby Sunday.” It hit me that yes, as well as I did, I still need to have a good cry sometimes. It hit me that this wait for China is harder than I’m letting myself acknowledge day-to-day, as I move forward with the rest of life. It hit me that I’m still quite angry at God for giving Jim and me this curse of barrenness. And yet I’m grateful that God is also helping me get through these times. I don’t know how..

My friend expressed concern about church growth… if I have a hard time with babies, then how could our church have lots of young families? Could we? Yes, I said. We do, and we can. I love babies, I love children. (Which is the problem. If I didn’t love babies so much this wouldn’t be so difficult.) I am able to be pastoral. It’s just hard, mostly with babies. If she had seen me last week at Vacation Bible School, I told her, she would have seen me holding kids, carrying kids, letting kids crawl all over me. And enjoying it. And if a family with a new baby or pregnant lady enters our church, I will welcome them as I would any other new family. So I’m not concerned about church growth from that perspective. But it doesn’t mean it’s not hard for us, for me… and it doesn’t mean that we still don’t want our baby. But still, I am also a wounded healer. The pastor with the achy breaky heart. The pastor who loves babies so much that it literally hurts to look at them now because it’s too painful that God hasn’t granted her this desire in her life.

Baby Sunday. It makes me think what other types of Sundays/church events clergy have endured over the years that are painful. Obviously, things like church conflict (Been there, done that..).. but I’m talking more about stuff like single clergy officiating at weddings, pastors who have lost loved ones to cancer giving thanks in a prayer service for a parishioner being healed of cancer… My mind’s drawing a blank right now on more possible situations, but I’m sure they happen.

I pray that God continues to give us the grace to be present, to be faithful, to be real, and to be loving… despite our own aching hearts.