I really believe that childlessness, regardless of why a person experiences it, hurts worst because it negatively impacts our sense of self-worth. We all want to believe that we can achieve anything we set our minds to, including parenthood, and when it turns out we can’t, the resulting emotional trauma can be devastating.
I think little girls are given baby dolls to play with because most girls become mothers. That mothering instinct in girls is nurtured early, and nobody considers the fact that perhaps some girls might never be wives or mothers for a variety of reasons. It is no wonder that some women arrive at the heartbreaking realization that they will never have a child, and feel a sense of disillusionment, because they had planned, hoped and dreamed about becoming mothers since they were too young to understand where babies come from.
The inability to have children is more devastating to women than men, I think, because bearing children is the one thing most women do that men can’t. But when a woman can’t, that inability damages her sense of self-worth, and can lead to marriage failure, and in many cultures, social injustice, as family and even friends treat the childless as “less than.” Not only at gatherings, but in wills, as society values fertility higher. I mean, people want to know their treasured keepsakes will progress through the generations. Even in the work force, many employers view parents as higher priority than childless people, who are expected to fill in for their coworkers with children.
Another aspect of childlessness is the “Why her, and not me?” unfairness. At times, it seems like a childless woman is the only one in her family, social circle, or in her area who is denied the children she so desperately wanted. My parents had seven children, and I’m the only reproductively disabled child in their brood. While one of my sisters is both single and childless by choice, my other three sisters are fertile: two have four children each, and the other just had her first child. I used to think it was so unfair that I’m the daughter who is reproductively disabled, until I finally recognized that I’m the only daughter strong enough for it.
This time last year, I felt like my infertility, my childlessness made me less than every fertile person on earth. I felt like I wasn’t worthy of having a life I truly enjoyed, because all I had was a broken reproductive system, and a lot of physical and emotional pain. I wanted to feel worthy, but I didn’t. I really felt like this was one area where I wanted to change, so I did.
First off, a person’s fertility or lack of fertility has nothing to do with their worth. I believe God created each person in His image with unique gifts, for the purpose of His glory. It was God who designed my broken reproductive system, and it is Him that heals my broken heart, and reveals His will for my life to me. It is God who comforts me, and He reminds me that my worth is not based on myself or anything I do or don’t do, but instead based entirely on the unshakable truth that I belong to Him for eternity, ever since I gave my life to Him 21 years ago.
God has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Corinthians 12:9). The invitation to have a personal relationship with God is open to everyone, so if you desire to be healed, the carpenter from Nazareth still works miracles. I’m a formerly broken woman He touched and healed.
By the grace of God, I am worthy of every blessing God wants to give me. I’m worthy of the tears of sorrow, the laughter of knowing how deeply I’m loved, the joy of appreciating the little things in life some take for granted. I’m worthy of learning to be content with my life, whether by inches, or by yards. I’m worthy of this childless not by choice journey, with all its ups and downs, because God designed me that way.