Here's the thing about Hannah, and also about many of the women in the Bible with whom I feel a particular affinity: she was infertile for quite a long time. Generally speaking, if we're told that a woman in the Bible has a closed womb, it's usually so we can see how God works to bring fertility where there was none. So Hannah's story has a different ending than mine does. But that doesn't prevent me from feeling this affinity, all the same, and especially for one particular reason-- her husband had another wife (Peninnah), who was quite fertile, and the Biblical account tells us that the other wife went out of her way to make Hannah miserable in her childless state.
When I was a kid growing up in church, I was told over and over again that Israelite women who couldn't have children were generally regarded as having displeased God in some way. Y'all, there are plenty of 21st-century Christians who obviously still believe this, and moreover, have appointed themselves as the deliverers of this dismal news to any childless women in their vicinity. I know y'all have heard this song and dance from me before, but that won't keep me from saying it once more for those in the back: do not be Peninnah. Do. Not. And there are a whole list of reasons why not, but the only one that's really needed is this: it is none of your business to police the childless folks around you. If you can't be around them and at the same time keep quiet about what they should be doing to increase their fertility or how they'll change their minds and it'll be too late or any other dopey thing that people say, then do them a favor and stop being around them. Harsh? Yes. But so is that behaviour, and there's no excuse for it. Just don't.
So I shared some of this experience with the group on Monday night, and they now know all of the interesting things there are to know about me (infertile, widowed, car-free--that's pretty much it), but my reason for sharing was this: Ms. TerKeurst wraps up the chapter with two sentences I wish I'd had in my arsenal for years. "She gets the assignment she was made to carry. I'm freed up for other better-suited assignments tailor-made for me." YES. This. This is what I've tried to hard to express for many years but could never find the words for.
|This place is growing on me, so whatever God has in|
store next, I hope it's at least in Cincinnati.
God knows I fail at this a thousand times per day. Maybe you do, too. Maybe we can go forward together, all doing the best we can at the tasks we were made to carry.