So we are about to head to church on a Good Friday. One of the most celebrated, heavily attended, child-focused days of the year. And we do not have children.
I am trying to identify this feeling I have about going to church today. It is not quite dread. Nor is it exactly apprehension. I do not know how this church visit will go as we are visiting a new church, so I feel incapable of dreading the unknown.
It is more like curiosity. I have a bunch of questions about how we might be treated by our Christian brothers and sisters.
Will they ask us about having children?
Will they still want to know us when they discover we are childless?
How much of the service will be “kid-friendly”?
Will we feel welcomed?
Will we be ignored completely?
Will we want to go back?
It is hard to know with churches, especially the first time at a new church. One would hope that any church would always be welcoming and inclusive. But church can be unpredictable.
One would hope that church would always be welcoming.
It probably does not help that we have had a couple of bad experiences of being childless in church. We have been questioned, interrogated and put down due to our childless status. I have been directly told I am in sin by not having children. We have felt excluded and treated as inferior beings.
We have felt like we do not belong.
It is no wonder that some childless people feel ambivalent about going to church, particularly around Easter time and during school holidays.
Hence my curiosity about going to a new church this morning. I want this experience to be different. I pray, dare to hope, that this time we will feel part of the family.
I dare to hope that this time we will be part of the family.
Am I naïve for wanting this?
Yet hope persists. It seems crazy to keep on hoping for love and acceptance in the face of bad past experiences. But hope is stubborn like that. It stands like a tree in a storm, straight and sure and true, digging deeper into the soil, hanging on with all its might.
I will carry this mite of hope with me, though it feels more like a mustard seed today than a mighty tree. I do not know if I will encounter storms in my travels, or if my hope will withstand them. But hope I will.
Keep calm and keep on hoping.
See you on the other side.
Do you have a story of surviving Easter? How do you cope with being childless during special church events and school holidays? Share your story – let’s have a countercultural conversation.