This phrase “a cloud of witnesses” comes from the Bible in Hebrews 12. The author lists ancestors who offered wisdom and behaviors to help guide those who were to come in the future. After that long list of ancestors, the author suggests that if we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, we should toss aside anything that hinders us (the conversation goes into a whole thing about sin, but that’s not what I’m focusing on here!).
My Cloud of Witnesses
I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I want to say again: when I was first diagnosed with infertility, I felt so alone. So, so alone. I wasn’t aware of anyone in my life who had chosen not to pursue treatment to conceive. All I had known were folks who couldn’t conceive on their own so they tried medicated cycles or IVF or went the route of adoption.
We decided not to choose any of those options and it felt like I was creating some path no one had ever been down before.
It turns out this path wasn’t as secluded as I once thought. Slowly but surely I started finding others. Brandi at Not So Mommy… then Katy at Chasing Creation. Before long I was part of a community of other women who had made similar choices as me. I discovered we had a name: childless not by choice or childfree after infertility.
I found my cloud of witnesses.
Making My Contribution
I soon found my place among these incredible women. I discovered that people needed Living in the Midst — how do we choose to live a good, full life in the midst of our infertility? Others asked that question too and I had quite a bit to say about it!
In addition to Living in the Midst, I have a strong connection with the Christian faith. I was a youth minister for 14 years and I have a Master of Divinity. I truly enjoy theological discussions and like to push the bounds of what people think about God and faith. In fact, I joined Brandi and Katy on a webinar exploring the topic of faith and childlessness about a year ago.
Before I knew it, I became part of that cloud of witnesses.
Gathering the Witnesses
Next week I will participate in the first Childless Collective Summit. Katy has gathered a great cloud of witnesses to share experiences around childlessness. If you aren’t part of the childless community you may not understand the gravity of this event… the speakers Katy has gathered is simply amazing and last I heard there are over 1,400 people registered for this free online event.
Over the four days of this summit 28 speakers will address four themes: Sharing Our Stories, Finding Healing, Making Connections and Looking Ahead. My presentation is the third day and I’m sharing my thoughts on how faith communities can be more inclusive of childless women. In addition to listening to my ideas, there will be space for participants to reflect on their own thoughts and feelings about faith communities and how they do or don’t feel included.
On March 20 I get to present alongside women like Stephanie from World Childless Week and Laura and Kadi at Anotherhood. On other days there will be presentations from Jody Day of Gateway Women, Jobi Tyson of Tutum Global and Dr. Loree Johnson. (I’ve written for a few of these women; you can find those essays here.)
Gratitude for My Cloud
I remember finding those first few women and feeling such a sense of relief that I was no longer alone. I emailed them and followed them on social media. I added myself to their newsletter list. I did whatever I could to learn from them and find hope in their stories. And, in finding them, my world opened to so many others sharing their own stories of hope.
I get similar messages now — ones that thank me for sharing my story, ones that share how grateful they found me because now they feel less alone. Somehow, I’ve become part of other women’s cloud of witnesses. I never would have imagined that 4.5 years ago. In less than a week, I’ll be sharing part of my story with hundreds of childless women seeking hope. Without my own cloud of witnesses that wouldn’t be possible. Gratitude, gratitude, gratitude…
- Basic Access Pass that will give you access to audio and video recordings of the presentations for a full year, and access to Katy of Chasing Creation’s new workshop “Responding to Intrusive Questions and Unsolicited Advice”;
- or the All-Access Pass that includes all of the above, plus transcripts of the presentations, tons of speaker-contributed bonuses and goodies, and exclusive episodes from some of your favorite podcasters!