Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Are you barren???

The youth group at our church is learning about the book of Genesis right now. We started at the beginning (literally) and have been reading and discussing it in our small groups. My small group consists of 9th and 10th grade girls. Tonight we got to chapter 11 where the Bible mentions Abram and his wife, Sarai, who is barren. We started to talk about what the word "barren" means. I was trying to emphasize that it meant she was unable to have children even though she was old enough to have kids, was married and wanted to have kids. And then here's what happens:

Jessica: So, like, I'm not barren because I am too young and don't want to have kids yet.
Me: Right. You are probably able to have kids but don't yet because you are unmarried and inschool.
Girls: smirks and giggles as they think about what it takes to make a baby and how they shouldn't be doing that at 15
Me: But Sarai is older, she's married and she's ready to have kids but can't.
Mariah: Are you barren?
I'm not sure what expression came across my face at this point but Mariah's next sentence was:
"Is it wrong to ask that?"

Seriously this is what came out of her mouth. I was totally caught off guard. I haven't discussed our situation with the girls from youth....I'm not sure how to explain infertility or what we're going through to them. I'm also not sure how having a baby will affect the time I spend with them and I'm not really ready to answer questions like "Are you still going to hang out with us if you have a baby?"

But back to the story. This gets me to thinking....Am I barren? Miriam Webster's online dictionary defines barren as:

1 : not reproducing: as a : incapable of producing offspring -- used especially of females or matings b : not yet or not recently pregnant c : habitually failing to fruit
2 : not productive: as a : producing little or no vegetation :

I'll be honest. The "incapable of producing offspring" part cuts like a knife. But I think I'm going to focus on the part that I made bold....the "Not YET pregnant" part.

I have identified with the women in the Bible who long for children--Sarai, Rachel, Hannah, Elizabeth. I've read their stories countless times but I don't think I've ever used the word "barren" to describe myself before.
The part that gives me hope is that I've read ahead of the girls so I know that eventually the Lord will change Sarai's name to Sarah and she will give birth to Isaac. I also know that Rachel, Hannah and Elizabeth all have sons later on. Obviously I can't read ahead in my own story but I'm hoping for the same blessing.

And as far as the girls are concerned I'm not quite sure how I responded...everything seems blurry after the "Are you barren?" part. I know that I didn't say "Yes" and for that I'm a little ashamed. I'm not just ashamed of being barren (which is a whole other post entirely) but I'm ashamed that I wasn't totally honest with my girls. Girls who are often brutally honest with me about their own lives.



Blogger Rachel said...

I took 7th and 8th graders to camp just a month ago and I had asked my dad (a youth pastor) about what I should tell them about IF, if anything at all. We both agreed that it should stay strictly emotional and avoid the medical (ie: dh's sperm mixing with my eggs etc!)

In the end I told them (After 2 years of being with these girls) and I'm glad I did.. but I did it on my time... not bc the question was shoved in my face (poor girl!) And we had also decided to adopt, which made it easier...

You should only tell them in your own time. Plus if our mentors told us everything they were going through (all the bad!) we might not want them to be our mentors anymore :-) It's not our job to bombard them with our lives.

So don't be too hard on yourself!

7:42 PM  
Blogger amy said...

You are so right. My accountability partner and my small group from church are the ones who help "carry the burden"...not my youth girls. I think her thought process was "Amy's old enough to have kids and she's married but she doesn't have any....does that mean she's barren?" and out it came.

Thanks for your encouragement.


7:47 PM  
Blogger andrea_jennine said...

Whoa, what a question to pop out of a teen girl's mouth! It sounds to me like you handled it well, even though you were caught off guard. I've never been in the exact same situation, but I have had little kids ask me why I'm not a mom; in their minds, I think wife and mom go hand-in-hand. I usually just say that we would like to have children, but that God hasn't given us any yet; then I say that they can pray for God to do that. That seems to work for their simpler minds, but I bet teen girls wouldn't be satisfied with that answer!

And yes, "barren" is a daunting word! It took me a while to use the word "infertile" to describe myself; "barren" was a whole 'nother leap! But aren't those Bible stories encouraging? I love to know that God cares enough about IF to include so many examples of it in his plan for salvation; and I love seeing the way God uses children of IF for his kingdom! Not that I expect my future kids to be another John the Baptist or anything, but surely these long years of praying for them will have effect...

(Sorry to write a book; this post just struck a chord with me!)

7:52 AM  
Blogger katd said...

It's really tough to know what to say when faced with that kind of question when you're not expecting it. Heck, it's hard enough to know what to say when you prepare an answer:) As Rachel was saying, it's easier to discuss things like this on your own time. I was teaching while we were going through fertility treatments and the adoption process, and it was tough not to tell my girls about being matched with our daughter's birthmom. But, I wasn't ready to talk about it, and I wasn't ready for the emotional responses I knew I'd get back. You have to be emotionally ready.
I love your blog, by the way. :) It's so uplifting and hopeful! :)

7:58 AM  

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