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By Michelle Tribe from Ottawa, Canada [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

On Christmas Eve, I stood before the congregation and read the narrative of Mary visiting Elizabeth.  As I read aloud from the pulpit, my heart ached a bit when coming across these words:

“When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy.” – Luke 1:41-44

At 41 years old, I’m pretty sure that I’m beyond having children, at least an infant.  (I have wondered if I’m called to be a mom to an older child someday in the future.)  With some of my health concerns, including my endometriosis, I have higher risk pregnancies, chances of infertility and miscarriage.  On top of all of this, I find myself exhausted so much quicker, and only sleeping two or three hours would disturb my health even greater.

I also enjoy my life the way it is.  I absolutely love being a full-time pastor.  I enjoy spending time with friends as well as my niece and nephew.  I love working with the children at church.  But I know that my call is greater to be a full-time working woman rather than one that devotes part of her life to children.  Being a mother is a blessing and a call; likewise, devoting one’s life to a vocation is a call as well.

A few months ago, I wrote about my gray-spaced life as a woman existing between childless and child-free.  Even for those of us who lean towards not having children, the thought of never experiencing a life thriving within us brings a tinge of sadness.  In fact, I think that’s the toughest part for me.

I will never feel the stirring of a child.  I will never see anything besides an empty uterus on the ultrasound.  I will never see my belly blissfully full from a growing baby, and I will never watch it moves as she moves within me.  Even if I love my life child-free, the ions of childlessness still create a sadness.

So reading the previously noted portion of Luke 2 made my heart hurt just a little on Christmas Eve.  I can’t be sure if I was the only one or if there were many others sitting in our pews crying inside because of infertility, miscarriage or the way life has just worked out.

And just maybe a small part of me felt left out of the pregnant ladies club… the one in which the Elizabeths and Marys get together to watch their growing bellies and converse in joy about the movement of the child in their wombs….

My soul still magnifies the Lord for all the wonderful pieces of my life.  The “Mighty One has done great things for me,” and Her name is still holy.

But just for a moment, I embrace the sadness lingering inside of my empty womb.