Leaning against the door of my bathroom stall, I closed my eyes tight and counted to 60, 3 times. The box said to wait three minutes for the best results. We’d only been married 2 weeks, and here I was in McDonald’s bathroom in Wisconsin taking a pregnancy test.
A baby right now would ruin everything;
all our plans,
all our possibilities.
But somehow I was still desperately hopeful.
When I opened my eyes and saw that tiny pink minus sign, I was shocked at the misery that swept over me.
“I don’t want a baby” I whispered to myself. “I don’t WANT to be pregnant.”
I quickly wiped away my tears and went outside to my anxious husband. “Crisis averted!” I joked, but I avoided eye contact. I didn’t want him to see the emptiness in my eyes.
That was the first of many negative pregnancy tests. Every time I bought a box at Walgreens I secretly hoped that THIS would be the time. THIS would be the test that would come back positive. And every time I would throw the negative stick in the garbage and cry on the inside if not for real. I didn’t understand why it made me feel so awful. Until recently, I was sure it was my god-given desire to nurture that made me hate myself for being childless.
In a sense, that is true. But it’s not a god-given desire: it’s just my P/QF programming.
This is not a post about how Quiverfull taught me to want babies.
This is not even about how Patriarchy taught me that I didn’t deserve to dream big and reach my goals.
This is about something deeper.
This is about identity
Most Christian-raised kids are told that they have no inherent value. I was told to find my identity and value in God alone. I internalized that to mean that God was the only thing that made me worth loving. Without him I was I worthless, useless piece of garbage. As a kid I constantly reminded myself how worthless I was. It didn’t take long for that to sink in. I tried and tried to be close to god, but he was always so far away. I knew he didn’t care about me. And I knew it was because of how worthless I was.
Ashamed, I started looking elsewhere for something to bring value to my useless shell.
“I am valuable because I do my chores faster than anyone else”
“I am lovable because I sing in front of the church”
“I am worthy because I punish myself with a razor blade”
“I am respectable because I exercise 25 hours a week”
I have transferred my sense value from one thing to the next for my entire life. When I got married, it was like all of that was suddenly cut out from under me.
Everything in my life was
but I was still the same,
and now I had nothing left to bring value to my existence.
I have come to realize what was really going on in my heart every time I took a pregnancy test. I was hoping against hope that a tiny pink plus sign would show up in that window and give me a reason to keep on living.
Every day I am learning to love myself for the first time in my life. I am learning to find value in myself. I am slowly discovering that I have an identity apart from god,
I am valuable because I am human.
And so are you.
I don’t want a baby right now. But someday when I have one, I promise you I will tell them everyday how worthy they are. How precious they are. How VALUABLE they are.
It seems like a simple lesson, but let me tell you: the older you get, the harder that lesson is to learn.