Dear Ms. Feverfew –
Typically, when I disclose my first mother status to a church member I usually get one of several responses. (1) The horrified look and repulsion as the person says, “Oh, I could never give my baby away but you did such a loving thing for her. At least you didn’t have an abortion,” (2) The pat on the shoulder as the person says, “There, there, Melynda. She’s probably so much happier in her family than she could have been with you – it’s God’s will in both of your lives that this happened. Plus, what other outcome could there have been considering you were a single mother?” or (3) “Wow, what a wonderful, selfless, Christlike thing to give your baby to another family! What a precious gift you gave them.”
I won’t get into why those comments are so hurtful. I just want to share with you that occasionally, there are women who “get it.” These are women of true compassion and understanding, women who are not first mothers but who are willing to listen and not judge (Monica, Kristi, Heather, Maryann, Sammie, Marie – I love you all for this).
Recently, I *gasp* volunteered to play a part in a musical event a Stake Relief Society event in January. This marks the first time I will have performed in public for nearly 13 years. A short time after my divorce, it was like I lost my voice. Something happened inside of me….after a lifetime of being told that my opinion didn’t really matter in the long run, that my figurative voice counted for naught in the LDS church, my literal voice gave way. Sure, I still speak, I still sing the hymns at church, but ever since then, I have not sang in public, not in a choir and certainly not in a solo setting. I am still sorting through the reasons why this happened – I know a lot of it has to do with my anger at God for what had transpired in my life up to that point.
So I don’t know what came over me when my friend asked me if I knew anyone who could sing. Perhaps it is because I am gaining some courage from writing these letters. Perhaps it was because I am finally making peace with God. Who knows for certain – I certainly don’t – but for some crazy reason, I told her about my “past” as a musician and volunteered to participate. I thought I would be OK until last Sunday at our first rehearsal.
I thought I held it together pretty well while I was there. However, my friend called me a short time after it was over and said somethings not right – what up? And it all came spilling out. And I mean all of it. It wasn’t pretty and involved a lot of crying and kleenex at my end of the conversation. She was so kind to me and I was genuinely touched by her compassionate responses on the phone.
I thought that was the end of it – we would go on being friends, she would occasionally ask me if I had heard anything from you or your parents, and would make excuses for me when I duck out of church on Mother’s Day and Adoption Ain’t it Grand Day (it isn’t really called that, but each year in November, we invariably have a Sunday School lesson about the wonders and miracle of adoption.) I honestly thought our conversation would fade into the background of our relationship, much like it does with nearly everyone else. You can only imagine the tears the following note from her brought to my eyes, delivered yesterday along with a dozen deep russet-red roses.
I have been thinking about you all week since we spoke last Sunday. My heart broke for you as you shared some of the challenges you have faced. I don’t believe that the Lord ever delights in our sorrows or wishes us to suffer in vain. That is why we are commanded to “mourn with those that mourn and comfort those that stand in need of comfort.” I am sorry that you have known so much heartache & suffering. I truly am sorry. What I think is amazing is that despite the setbacks, you have managed to live a gifted and compassionate life. You are an extremely accomplished individual with an abundance of talents. Thank you for being so willing to share them. My heart goes out to you & all that you are.
I have rarely been as deeply touched as I was by this note. I guess I have one more name to add to the list of women in my life who get it.
Much love and belief –