MP900405096I am reading your blog. (Yes, I mean you.)

And I understand the temptation to rant. People really do say awful things to you. They publicly drill you for details about your sex life (which is no one else’s business but your husband’s), suggest home remedies for amping up fertility (which you tried five years ago when the ideas first came out in Redbook), and generally pry and poke and dig at you because you dared cry at sewing circle when Mrs. Jones announced her daughter’s pregnancy.

I understand. It stinks to be on the receiving end of such tactless attentions, but there is something else that needs understanding in these situations.

There will always be bowling balls in your life.

There will always be people who take aim at your barrenness and flatten your feelings like a bunch of pins down a waxy lane. These people spare no verbal expense but always go for the strike, recklessly voicing their expectations for your womb, opining on projected reasons for your childlessness, and offering up armchair diagnoses of your health for the benefit of, well, I guess, themselves. It doesn’t matter where you are or what you think, say, or do. These hooks, crankers, and tweeners are going to seek you out and hit you full-on like a 16-pounder.

But, for the most part, everyone else in this world takes their conversation cues from you. They won’t talk about your barrenness unless you bring it up; they won’t make suggestions about your diet unless you openly discuss your metabolic problems; they won’t offer up ideas for how to get pregnant unless you share with them your desire for a child and subsequent frustration in your childlessness; they won’t try to help you feel better unless you look miserable; in other words, they won’t dwell on that which you don’t dwell.

So, let’s give the world a break and take some responsibility for the conversations we keep. Let’s not blog-blame others for finishing the conversations we start ourselves and, instead, kindly explain to our friends and acquaintances face-to-face what we need most from them.

And as for the bowling balls who barrel towards us unprompted, well, “we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Romans 5:3-5 ESV).

That’s good news, I think.

Lord Jesus Christ, in Your deep compassion You rescue us from whatever may hurt us. Teach us to love You above all things and to love our neighbors as ourselves; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. (Collect for July, 14, 2013, Eighth Sunday after Pentecost)