In years past, it didn’t matter what number I answered. The interrogator always one-upped me.
“Three years? Oh, don’t worry! You’ve got plenty of time. My husband and I didn’t even start trying until year five.”
“Five years? No problem! My mother didn’t have me until she and my dad had been married for seven years.”
“Seven years? No sweat! Mrs. Smith finally got pregnant on her eighth anniversary, so you better hurry up and finish that book before you get pregnant.”
“Eight years? You haven’t even been married a decade. God is just making you wait, so you will appreciate children more.”
“Ten years? A couple in my church started the adoption process at ten years, and then they got pregnant.”
But there is something different about the number eleven. This year, my interrogators are tripping over my answer. Their open mouths, ready to counteract the five or seven or nine they are anticipating, clam up in response.
Apparently, the eleven card is trump.
(Cue flood of emails from people whose family and friends got pregnant in year eleven.)
In all seriousness, I know that the comments listed above were meant to bring me comfort, but they actually made me feel sad, even angry. Not only had I failed up to that point to produce a child in my marriage, but now I had to bear other people’s hopes and expectations on top of my own. What if I didn’t get pregnant like Mrs. Smith? Double failure. Double disappointment. Double pain.
It is tricky business reassuring a barren woman of the inevitability of pregnancy during year X of marriage, because she knows better. She is no fool. God has not promised her in His Word that she will be given the gift of a child, and every year of her life thus far attests to that reality. She knows Who it is that gives the gift of children, and she can call to mind ten barren women who have not gotten pregnant in year X for every suggested one who has. Add to that fact the burning desire she has for a child of her own, and the calling to mind of others who have already been given that gift from God can lead her to covetousness.
What is a good, helpful response to the number she gives to the marriage question? How about the truth?
“God has richly blessed you with X years of marriage! I pray He will continue to bless you and your husband in the years ahead.”
See? No false promises + some celebration = a lovely, little bit of correspondence.