Infertility of the Heart

There's a baby boom among my friends, and it's happening to great people. It's so exciting.

It's also excruciating.

We both want kids, have wanted them for years. There's been a laundry list of reasons we haven't had them (including the priest during who told me I'd have to get the bishop's permission before getting pregnant during The Process), but the biggest one I don't talk about much: the fear that maybe there's just a "good parent" gene missing in my family, and my kids wouldn't have a happier childhood than I did.

The phrase I keep using when I think about it is "heart infertility." Physically, people can become parents, but in their hearts, they can't. As a diabetic inherits his inability to produce enough insulin, maybe I've inherited an inability to nurture. I wonder if all the circumstantial reasons we haven't had kids are God's way of protecting me from becoming someone I'd hate.

I talked to a close friend about it, and somehow that made it worse. (At the same time, I'm so grateful she doesn't understand and can't relate.) It's not a logical fear-- of course I know about parenting books and classes. But it's not about knowing what activities to do, or making sure they brush their teeth. It's not even about appropriate discipline. It's a visceral fear that my kids will be the people I'm not able to love, that they'll have a parent who won't see them for themselves and rejoice.

In the midst of all the crying, I've been praying (a lot of it's angry prayers-- it was NOT FUNNY when I sought solace in the hymnal, and opened up to all the arrangements for the Magnificat). Last night, part of the answer was, "You don't inherit love from your parents. You inherit it from Me. Parents can be vessels, but Love originates in Me."

I think that's the right answer, but I don't quite trust it yet. And I'm dreading Advent.


Why Bad Email Gets Me Down

This morning, I opened my inbox to find this forward from someone I like and respect (a former teacher of mine, in fact).

It's OK to have opinions I disagree with. Lots of people I love do. In fact, on one issue or another, surely everyone I love disagrees with something I believe. And I know this woman believes her email is true, she never would have passed it around if she thought it might not be.

But the original creator of that fear-inciting, hate-mongering email? He or she was just deliberately scamming Christians. He was preying on people's ignorance, and he was distracting people of faith from all the things that really need our prayer and attention. That's what makes me crazy. Now, my friend isn't blameless (nor are any of us, myself included, when we don't fact-check), but she's acting out of devotion.

People think they're being faithful, and really they're being led astray. We are like sheep without a shepherd. We ARE sent out like sheep among wolves. We HAVE to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.* So many Christians are fearful of the "other," but too trusting of those who seem like friends.

*My thanks to Mt. 10:16.


Wednesday Prayers: Wearing Purple

I'm wearing a purple cami under my cardigan today, and my blog is wearing a lovely lavender, both for Spirit Day, a day to support LGBT youth.

I try to be honest here on The Kitchen Door (and when I can't, I just plain don't post about the topic), so as crappy as it is, I'm going to go ahead and tell you what a moron I was at 18.

I knew a young man in college who was friends with some of my friends. He and I weren't close, but we were often in the same place at the same time. There were rumors about his being gay, but I thought the respectful thing to do would be to just come out and ask him.

In front of a handful of other people.

I had no idea I was "outing" someone, never even thought about it. While my military background had exposed me to a lot of different cultures, I didn't know anyone who was openly gay. I didn't care either way (my philosophy was that it didn't affect me-- if you're not sleeping with me, I don't care who you sleep with), but I didn't stop to think how much he might care. (In the privacy-invading style of a tiny campus, it never occurred to me that if it didn't affect me, I also didn't need to know.)

The people we were with were all his friends, and he very tactfully dodged the question, but it's something I deeply regret now.

So, today I'm praying for teens in hostile situations, teens in awkward situations, and (like me) teens who need some education.

And I'm so sorry, A. I'd undo it in a heartbeat if I could.

How about you? How are you praying today? How can I pray for you?


Some Thoughts on Being Incarnate

I stumbled across this at Borders a while back, took a picture with the camera in my phone, and then brought it home from the library about a week ago. I recognized the author: someone I loved a million years ago had given me another of her books in high school. Some might think it's unexpected reading material for me. I'm relatively comfortable in my body-- or at least, I really enjoy having a body, which may be unusual in itself. I like stretching and running and playing in waves (all things my body lets me do), and I like fuzzy sweaters and sassy boots (also made possible by being incarnate). But even for me, the subjects of bodies and food are fraught, often feel like landmines.

I think sexuality is the hardest part of body-image-stuff for me. I've always been slim, but I've also been caricature-curvy forever. (My very attractive mother, on the other hand, has the sort of boyish elegant figure that made both Hepburn ladies famous.) I've often felt that being curvy means being presumed promiscuous until proven innocent. I'm fun, and I flirt, and I laugh -- but I've never been anything that comes remotely close to promiscuous.

There are so many reasons not to be comfortable in our bodies.

I'm often embarrassed because I'm thin. In a culture where so many people struggle with their weight, I feel guilty and awkward. (When people ask how I do it, I joke that the women in my family burn extra calories by being really mean. In fact, my mom and I are the only ones who are consistently petite. Rather than a genetic legacy, I think I inherited the Marine perspective that staying fit as we age is expected.)

Though I talk and joke about them, I'm embarrassed about my curves. I was absolutely shamed for growing up, for having an adult body. (It was far more threatening to some people than I understood at the time.) I didn't even have to do anything WITH my curves, just having them was immoral.

When I was in The Process, I could have swapped clothes with any similar-sized 60-year-old, and not had a noticeable change in style. I knew that being young and having a distinctive figure was a liability. Modesty is a must in ministry (a new tongue twister, but true), but my already-confused relationship with my body got worse.

I eat healthy food. I work out regularly. I get enough sleep. For the most part, I like my body. But I don't know how to have a body around other people. These lovely, confident women in all shapes who wear what they want? Amazing to me. I haven't passed self-consciousness yet.

And so, I read Geneen Roth's book, because I thought she might have something to say.

She does. And it's fabulous.

I really want to tell you all about it, but I'm afraid you won't read it if I do. Also, because I think you'll argue with me, and I think she makes her case better than I would. Go read it. Trust me.


Wednesday Prayers: Rainbows

Our friend Stratoz pointed us to a little science on Saturday: "Rainbows are somewhat rare is that you will only see them when there is rain in front of you and somewhat in the distance, and the sun is behind you and fairly low on the horizon."

I thought about that when I saw this rainbow today.

And then I thought about Noah, and the bit from Genesis 9 about the rainbow: "I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh."

For there to have been a rainbow, it must have still been raining.

Now, I know I'm applying science to a story that many of us don't take literally. (Some do, and I think maybe you can stay with me on this either way.)

God made a promise while it was still raining to never again wipe everyone out. I imagine I would have had a conversation like this:

God: The waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh.
Me: Dude, it's still raining. Are you kidding? This looks a lot like flood conditions to me.

Which makes me think of the beginning of the 11th chaper of Hebrews: "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen."

I've always thought of "things not seen" as those things which are invisible, maybe unprovable, things it might be reasonable to be agnostic about. But when someone tells you not to worry about floods anymore (while it's still raining), you DO have evidence that leads to one conclusion-- and God is saying to believe something else.

I think there's something to pray about there, but I'm not sure what it is for me yet. Maybe it's a starting point for one of you, too.