Here is the second part of my post about responding to unwelcome words.
James 1:19 “…Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”
When I was jotting down thoughts, I realized there are three things I usually think about when responding to uninvited comments about miscarriage or having only one child:
- My priorities
- My response
- What I have to know about myself
These became part of my thought process over time. Helpful information didn’t upload into my brain immediately after my first miscarriage to assist with the barrage of questions, opinions, and unsolicited guidance I got from people. I don’t recommend any of this as some sort of three step program or formula that will deliver perfect results, because real life isn’t always so simple. I’m sharing what helps me choose my responses.
My priorities- What matters to me most is growing in love and servanthood with God, my husband, and my daughter. My choices, energy, resources, and time need to be free for them first. If someone is throwing an endless stream of advice or questions at me about the fertility/miscarriage/only child issue, I have to decide what I can handle. How am I feeling that day? How will talking with this person affect the energy, resources, and time that I guard for my most important life priorities?
If I know I can’t handle the conversation in that particular moment, there’s no harm in finding a way to politely excuse myself. It will actually be the most helpful choice for my family and me. If I don’t have to deal with anger, depression, or sadness, I’m not going to. Why get involved in an unnecessary conversation that will draw heavily on my emotional reserves for the day?
Daniel and I are careful about what we discuss in front of our daughter when it comes to these issues. If she is around and I feel that advice or questions from others is not something that would be helpful for her to hear, I let the person know. In that particular situation my daughter is my first priority no matter who I’m talking to.
My response- If continuing to talk with someone doesn’t diminish anything I need to save for God and my family, then sometimes I’ll talk. But that depends on whether I want to, the attitude of the other person, and my relationship with the other person.
Sometimes I’m simply not interested in talking about it and there’s no deep reason why. Perhaps I’d rather watch my daughter’s soccer game or discuss something else. Maybe I’d rather hear about what’s going on with the person I’m talking to. Maybe I’d rather order coffee and play a game of cards. Maybe I’d rather watch Netflix™ and have popcorn together (Actually, that sounds really good 🙂 ). Or I might not have time in the moment to talk about anything. That’s fine. I’m usually just honest.
Sometimes I’m open to discussing this part of my life, but I try to discern the attitude of the person I’m talking with before answering questions. Is he simply making conversation without really wanting a deeper discussion? Is she really interested in my response or did she bring it up for the opportunity to share her own opinions? Maybe it seems the person truly wants to connect with me and understand my situation. If so, do I want to talk about it? Do I desire that level of connection as well?
We can’t read others’ hearts and minds. Outcomes are never perfect. Again, thinking through these questions helps me guard my heart. There have been times when I said something and wished I hadn’t. There have been times when I missed opportunities to connect with someone I really care about, opportunities that might have brought a little more love and healing to this area of my life.
There’s no predicting what will happen after I choose my response, but I try to use discernment. It’s something I pray about and occasionally discuss with deeply trusted mentors, because I know it’s a sensitive area of my life– of course it is. Because the children I grieve, the children I wonder if I’ll ever have, the siblings my daughter doesn’t have, wondering why I was born with these issues in my body… that part of my life should be protected and sacred. It’s not for everyone.
Here are a few more things I’ve been thinking about this week and during times when I get asked “the questions” :
- If I’m speaking with someone I’ve just met or don’t know very well and they ask about the size of my family, it’s usually easy to give a simple answer then ask about their family or change the subject. This normally works well for me.
- I don’t have to talk about it just because someone else wants to. Some things are sacred. I don’t have to share everything with everyone.
- There will be moments when I’m caught off guard by what someone asks or says. There will be moments when others won’t “leave it alone” or when I don’t respond well. I have to act in wisdom, but also be prepared in knowing not every situation will work out perfectly. Other people need grace. So do I.
- There are times when in my response, I can promote awareness and understanding for what I and other women have been through. I can share constructive ways to be a friend as we deal with these issues. When is it helpful for me to share these ideas in my response? When is it not helpful?
- No matter what someone says, how someone is acting, or how I’m feeling, rude responses from me never help. At the same time, I don’t have to discuss anything I feel uncomfortable with. I don’t have to allow someone to act or speak inappropriately with me. I can be direct in speaking truth, end the conversation, or walk away. Again…discernment.
- When I’m hurting, I can feel isolated or start to become self-absorbed– like I’m the only one going through something. That’s not true.
- I do not fully know the story of the person I’m talking with. He or she may have their own hurts with family, fertility, loss, and other issues. So I need to be kind.
- People who have not been through similar life experiences don’t understand. Even if they love me. Even if they want to understand. They can’t. So if a question rubs me the wrong way or hurts, I have to consider that it might not have been intentional. I need to remember that in my response.
This was difficult to write in so many ways because as I said, it’s a personal and sensitive issue. But I know there are other people who get questions about family/fertility/miscarriage/only child. Sometimes our responses feel effortless and we’re on top of things. Other times we struggle with what to say. I didn’t want to be afraid to approach the subject, because we follow Christ in the real world and this is an issue for many people. I pray something I’ve shared will encourage and help.
Thanks for reading.
©2018 Chrissy Winslow – All Rights Reserved
Next week I’ll share the last part of this post, “What I have to know about myself” What I believe about myself determines my attitude in life, how I thrive, and how I respond to others– no matter their actions/ words.
Sometimes the issues my body has with conceiving and carrying children cause struggles with self-worth and other fears. I’m not sure these struggles can be completely eradicated until I’m with my Creator, because life in a fallen world means I will always miss my children and crave the restoration of everything that has been lost. But there are ways I can remind myself of Truth, live in it freely, and trust everything about my life to Him. I can experience joy, appreciate what my life is, and hopefully enrich those around me. Looking forward to exploring this further and sharing what I learn.
To read my stories of Motherhood, Miscarriage, Changing Expectations, and flying on an airplane in labor, check out my book, Flying in Labor, on Amazon.com. My stories are set in the beautiful countries and cultures of the Himalayas. Available in Paperback & Kindle.