As a last minute Christmas gift, I bought us tickets to see Aziz Ansari. Nick and I enjoy live comedy in general, but to see someone so utterly gifted, who isn’t afraid of taking on racism, heterosexism and how people seem to be the rudest ever these days; well, we can’t pass that up. His show was fantastic. Yet, the good word I needed to hear came from his opening act, Jerrod Carmichael. Both single guys, they talked about dating woes. Jerrod said one thing that struck home. He said that he still considers pregnancy as a consequence. I laughed because in many ways there is still a part of me functioning with that mentality.
For those outside ministry-as-profession, it seems like (from my grass-is-greener-over-there mentality) that it may be easier to talk about sexuality. Although, that is probably just an illusion. I’ve talked with dear clergy girlfriends about this weird transition from pregnancy-as-consequence to trying to being pregnant. It’s a touchy subject to talk about because it intrinsically brings up one’s sex life. And talking about that as a clergy person, well, that’s a level of vulnerability about which even I wasn’t sure. I feel like it’s time to talk and be honest about this transition because if a comic can, so can I. Deeper than that, it’s inescapable in the emotional sense. It’s healthy to talk about this. It’s healthy to write about this, if for nothing else, for me. And pregnancy is helping me remember that “for me” is enough. That’s a lesson the little one growing inside will be taught over and over again: you are enough.
As a teenager, the idea of being intimate with someone usually threw me into fits of anxiety. Suffice it to say, those years were single and celibate. Sex was something people did when they were making bad decisions. Those among my peers who were sexually active kind of mystified me. Weren’t they afraid? What about the diseases? What about the baby that could come? Sex, in my upbringing, was by its very nature dirty and shame inducing. Thankfully, in college, my eyes were opened about what intimacy can mean, a little. There was a developing freedom to be truly educated around sexuality. My twenties were sexually active and very safe. No diseases. No pregnancy. Successful for this type A overachiever! The physical consequences I’d been threatened with as a teen proved to be avoidable. The emotional consequences connected to not truly understanding what healthy relationships were like and what the fullness of intimacy could be, well, those came. I had those consequences in spades. (Oddly enough, nobody really focused on those consequences.) I didn’t face them until my late twenties after two unhealthy relationships that made up most of that decade. I shifted to really consider that I was enough, enough for something that mattered.
As I’ve mentioned before, I was never that person who wanted to be a parent as a defining characteristic. Once Nick and I fell in love, that urge started. At first, it was as simple as this: he will be an amazing dad. Then, it became: I ache for a baby with Nick’s face. (Go ahead and laugh; I don’t know another way to explain it.) Eventually, it was: my heart breaks that we aren’t parents. That was the moment when we starting considering adoption after a year and a half of trying. That also seemed to be the moment that our bodies did the thing we wanted most, fertilizing and implanting this little bit that is growing now.
I’m writing all this to say that I still get fits of anxiety about this consequence of sex. My mind, due to unhealthy teachings in adolescence by the church, family and society about sex, still panics that I’m showing the world what I’ve been up to! I wonder what decisions we will make about teaching little one about sex, sexuality and the gift it is from God. How will we honor it by acknowledging special things need rules around them? What will we do to connect physical and emotional intimacy in a way that is healthy for our daughter? I want for her an approach to life that doesn’t induce shame. Am I bold enough to build that for her?