Question Submitted: There is a woman in my church who I think is having trouble conceiving. It seems like she doesn’t talk to anyone about it. Should I try to talk to her? How do I bring up the topic?
First of all, thank you for caring for this woman in your church. You are compassionate to be concerned about her well-being, and I admire you for seeking out advice on how to talk to her about her possible struggles with barrenness.
Here’s a good rule of thumb: never talk to a woman about barrenness in public. Avoid asking her any questions about such private matters while walking into church, during the Sunday school coffee hour, before or after meetings, while waiting in the buffet line at a wedding reception, during rehearsals, or while attending women’s social events. You get the picture. If the woman is indeed barren, she most likely will have strong, uncontrollable emotions that are stirred when discussing childlessness. Having those emotions on display in public can be both distressing and embarrassing for her, so please love and protect her by helping her to avoid such public outbursts.
In fact, if the only time you see and interact with this woman is in public places, there is a good chance you two might not have a close enough relationship for you to ask such a personal question in the first place. If this is the case, try getting to know her in other ways. When you see her at church, start asking her other friendly questions like, “How was your week? Where did you grow up? What do you like to do for fun?” As you get to know her better, maybe you two will start developing a friendship that leads to spending more time together outside of the usual church social setting. When she starts coming over to your house for a cup of coffee, that is an example of a setting when it would be appropriate to ask her about her childlessness.
And, when/if that time comes, please be ready to listen to her, cry with her, and pray for her. Your patient ear, supportive presence, and faith in God’s promises are the friendliest gifts you can give.