Monday, January 12, 2015

Hugging Those With Empty Arms

There are quite a few books, articles, and blogs which deal with what singles face and how ones around them can help, understand, and care for them; but there is a group of people often overlooked who are also needing to be understood and cared for.  I am finding this more and more as I talk with and hear from family and friends who would fall into this category.  I feel I have the freedom to write about this group- the childless women- because I am not married and facing their exact situation.  Sadly, lot of childless woman are judged wrongly if they try to share their feelings.  So as a bystander, I would like to speak on the behalf of these women.

God designed a woman with the natural instinct to want to cuddle a baby in her arms, to watch his eyelids flutter as he sleeps, to feel his tiny finger wrap around her own, to hear the first, “Mum, I wuv you”, to see the first step taken, to love and nurture the little life she calls her child, and to forget all the frustrating times when she hears that adorable giggle.  It is only right, and there is nothing wrong with that maternal desire.

The emotions a woman goes through when she realizes that she will never have that privilege are deep, because the desire for children is deep.  God placed that desire in the very fibers of a woman’s heart and soul, and so every fiber feels torn when her heart can not beat in rhythm with a little life.

I think the first thing we who have never worn her shoes need to realize is the pain she is going through.  Every Mother’s Day, every time she holds her sister’s newborn infant, every empty nursery, and every fuzzy blue or pink blanket brings back the stabbing realization that she is missing something.

Sadly, many childless woman have hurtful comments and questions thrown their way, which only adds to the pain.  Those who are not in her situation seem to have all the answers.  We tell her to get control of her emotions, we tell her to stop being selfish and adopt a child, we tell her that maybe she should try an all-natural pill that has healed every problem from cancer to infertility, we ask what her problem is…

If we aren’t part of the commenters, then we are the distancers.  The distancers stay far away because they surely don’t want to associate with someone who can’t have children.  Or perhaps we are a distancer who hides our child every time the childless woman comes near because we are not sure what to say and don’t want to offend or hurt her with reminders that we have children and she doesn’t.

Either way, we are pushing this woman into a lonely little world apart from anyone else.

What are some ways to hug those with empty arms?

1.  We need to try to “walk in her shoes”.  Try to comprehend the emotional pain and turmoil she is facing.

2.  We do not have the answers.  Stop telling her what she should or should not be doing.  That is one of the quickest ways to make her feel like a failure and as if it is her fault for her infertility.

3.  Don’t judge the decisions she makes; everyone’s path is different.  Maybe it would be good for her and her husband to adopt or foster a child.  There are lots of hurting kids out there who are hungry, abused, and crying themselves to sleep every night because they have no one to love them.  Many childless woman have taken lost children as their own and have been completely blessed and satisfied because children’s voices fill the empty house and sticky kisses adorn their faces.  BUT that is not our decision to make.  We can stop slipping Bethany Christian Services pamphlets in her church mailbox.  If that is what God calls her to, He will bring her to that point in His and her own perfect time.  Don’t lecture her about the money she and her husband may be spending on surgeries, operations, and doctors’ appointments.  Once again, that is their decision.  Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn’t; sometimes couples take that money and invest it into adoption….but any of those choices are theirs.  If they are not committing a sin, how do we have the right to judge?

4.  Pull her in instead of pushing her away.  Take her out for coffee sometime and just have a friend-to-friend chat.  Tell her that you love her and you don’t think she is of less value or importance because she does not have children.  Let her know that you will always be there to simply listen to her heart.  Show her that you truly care about what she is facing.

5.  Her situation and personal information does not need to be the subject of gossip.

6.  Someone had shared this point that I had never thought about before— Do not think that she has nothing to do because she does not have children.  She still has a house and husband to take care of; and a lot of childless woman work jobs or do babysitting, mission outreach, and elderly care for others.  Do not expect her to help you with all of your children just because she doesn’t have any.  Believe it or not, even though she doesn’t have children, her schedule is full from morning till evening.

7.  That doesn’t mean though that she might not enjoy spending some time with your children.  It may be just what she needs; so feel free to invite her over for a day once in awhile to change diapers, help with homework, sing lullabies, and scrub grass stains.  Don’t keep your children away because you fear you will offend her.

8.  Watch your attitude.  She is not of less value than you because she does not have children.  She may not be a mother to her own child, but she has been a mother to Sunday School children, neighbor kids, nieces and nephews, and many dreams and wishes.

9.  God’s heart goes out to the childless woman, and He strongly dislikes when people devalue or judge her.  We have many examples in the Bible.  Do some research on the barren woman in the Bible, and watch how tender God is toward them.  I think He asks the same of us.

10.  Remember that God calls each person to a different journey.  No family is exactly alike; and emotional, physical, and financial capabilities form a big part on how many children God chooses to fill a home.  Some are full with ten children; some with three; some with none of their own but dozens of neighbor kids who know they have a safe place to come to when they need help.   -I’ll share a little of my parents’ story.  Both my mother and brother almost died when he was born.  My parents were advised by quite a few doctors to be content with the two children God had given them because another pregnancy would take my mother’s life and then leave three children motherless.  Family and friends often made remarks that made my mother feel like she had failed motherhood in some way and was not a true woman because she was not like the Duggars.  But God had our family planned this way, because during the traveling years it would have been impossible to live the way we did with more children in the family.  It is not our decision to plan other peoples lives.  We need to love them and realize that a woman’s value is not based on if she has children or how many she has; but on the joy in her eyes, the service in her hands, the kindness in her mouth, the witness in her steps, and the love in her heart.

Go ahead and give a big hug today to someone with empty arms!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Remodeling and Renovating 2015

We are human; we are people of habit- usually bad habit.  We choose the easiest and most comfortable path without even thinking about it.  Our self-control and self-restraint is almost non-existent in today’s culture.  So we make ourselves feel good by making resolutions.

I do not like resolutions.  Usually resolutions are said in passing by those who wish for change but never take the action needed.

That’s why I prefer lifestyle remodeling and heart renovating.

With God’s help, that is what I will be working on in 2015.  I’m remodeling my lifestyle and renovating my heart because I want it to actually HAPPEN!  Supposedly it takes a minimum of 21 days to form a habit; average length of time for a habit to become a habit is about 66 days.  So if I start something now and can last till the first week of March, it will most likely become natural to me (pretty exciting, isn’t it!).

I’ll be vulnerable and share some of my goals for 2015-
  • -healthier eating
  • -continuing a daily exercise regime
  • -keeping up with birthday, encouragement, thank-you, and sympathy cards and gifts
  • -taking those daily vitamins, shots of apple cider vinegar, and probiotics
  • -formulating and sticking at a better devotional schedule
  • -making more godly music choices
  • -investing in the friendships around me
  • -bringing joy to my family
  • -focusing on the rainbows instead of the rain
  • -flossing and wearing my retainers every night=p
  • finding ways to do something for someone else each and every day.
Some of these you might laugh at, but I think it’s good to break bad habits and form good ones, no matter how big or small they may be.  Whether it’s flossing or deciding which radio station to listen to, each decision plays part in building up that self-control which is essential to godly character!

How to last in a routine till March?  I’ll share some of the ways that have worked for me.
  1. First and foremost, ask for God’s strength.  Nothing is to small for Him, and He loves us asking for His help!
  2. Find an accountability partner who will check in on a daily or weekly basis to see how you are doing.
  3. Make rewards for yourself (could be a new pair of shoes, piece of chocolate, drink at Starbucks…).
  4. Find ways to keep whatever you are doing exciting.  Switch up exercises (go ice-skating, play soccer, do a workout dvd…), go online and search for good books/movies/music you didn’t know about that can replace the questionable ones you have been reading/watching/listening to, find a new herb to incorporate into your healthy meals to kick up the flavor, buy fun-colored floss, get a special pen for devotional times, do insanely awesome things for other people (like send them anonymous gift cards, kidnap them for a night out, go help them at work for half a day- if permitted, deliver a huge handful of balloons to their front door), and just be CREATIVE!!!
  5. Keep a written checklist/diary/journal.  There are free apps out there as well that will help you track your journey in prayer, exercise, letter-writing, or whatever you are interested in.
  6. Take one day at a time; looking far ahead or making impossible goals will only overwhelm you.
  7. Don’t beat yourself up and give up if you miss a day or mess up; just get right back on track.
  8. Take courage in the change you see.
  9. Talk to people who struggled with your same problem, yet eventually conquered it.
  10. Write yourself notes or find things that will motivate you.  I keep a before/after picture of my weight-loss journey on my mirror to remind myself how much healthier and happier I feel when I exercise.  I also write crazy notes to myself on my alarm so that I am sure to motivate myself when I am completely unmotivated to do anything but sleep.
  11. Remind yourself of how much better of a friend, sibling, child, spouse, teacher, employee, witness, example, child of God… you will be if you gain control of whatever habit you are trying to break or form.
  12. Thank God profusely, and celebrate when you achieve a goal.  It doesn’t mean that you won’t ever forget to floss those teeth or have nightmares when it comes to doing dreaded jumping lunges, but it will become much easier when it becomes a daily habit.
I’d love to hear about your 2015 renovation/remodeling plans and what you have found motivational in reaching your past goals!  Please feel free to share=)

Blessing on your New Year,