When my son was born, it was a pretty traumatic experience for me. I won’t go into detail here, but if you haven’t read my blog about the day I became mom, you should really check it out. It gives all of the details about my labor and delivery and gives context to why I’m such a Mama Bear.
The Trauma Made Me Do It
As a result of my drama-filled delivery and the long, scary, emotionally and physically draining days that followed, I was even more protective of my son than any normal first time mom would be. He had already finished an 8-day stay in the NICU then ended up back in the hospital for a 3-night stay in the PICU. I was determined to keep my baby happy and healthy even if it was the LAST thing I did!
What’s Love Got To Do With It?
SO many people loved my baby boy, and he had no idea. People who had never met him genuinely loved him simply because they love his mom and dad. Let me just go on the record and say that we have the BEST church family ever! They have loved my family so well over the years, and THAT is where the conflict comes in. That is why being a Mama Bear at times was so difficult for me. How can I limit my son’s interactions with this group of amazing individuals who have done nothing but love us? The answer to that question is a simple one: because it is my job to protect my son and keep him healthy no matter what. Period. Although that was an easy question for me to answer, it was still a difficult thing to do.
I kept my baby boy away from large crowds, including church, for just over two months. He was born on February 22nd and my first day back at church was on April 29th. I had planned to wait a little longer, but I HAD to take my son to church on that day so that he could hear his daddy preach for the first time! Although I was excited about being in worship with my church family (because watching online is NOT the same) and even more excited to celebrate my first Mother’s Day, I was also super nervous about taking my son to church after what I had personally experienced during my pregnancy.
Thinking Of A Master Plan
So what did I do? I prepared myself ahead of time for every possible scenario that I could think of, and I specifically had a plan in place for how I would respond to people when they would ask to hold him. I made sure my husband, my mother and I were on the same page by communicating my expectations to them. No one was allowed to hold him at church because once one person held him (you know how that goes), everybody else would want to hold him. My baby had been through ENOUGH with his health, and I was not about to expose him to all of those different grown man and grown woman germs.
For the most part, I didn’t have any major issues with telling people they couldn’t hold my son. However, most people do not know that I dealt with postpartum depression and CRAZY anxiety. With all of that going on, sometimes just the crowd of people hovering around after church was overwhelming. Everyone wanting to hold and touch the baby was too much for me to deal with, at times. There were many days when I would hand my son to my mom right before the service ended. Then, she could be the “bad guy” and tell people no while I walked around and spoke to everyone. Other days, I found myself doing just as I did during my pregnancy. I would leave out of service a little early and staying hidden, with my baby, until the crowd in the sanctuary died down.
Even though I was doing this to protect my baby AND MY OWN SANITY, I still couldn’t help but think about how I could possibly be perceived by my church family. So here was my internal dialogue: “If I take the baby out of the church empty-handed then it will be clear that I’m going out only to avoid being around the people after service. Even though that’s exactly what I’m trying to do, I know that not everyone will understand that and there’s the potential for someone to be offended. So to combat that, I will take the diaper bag with me so that everybody will assume the baby needs his diaper changed. BOOM! That’s the perfect plan!” Y’all…I actually thought all of that through!
Why do I make it a point to share my thought process? Because I think it’s important for people to know the various situations that those in leadership roles find themselves in and the internal struggle that sometimes goes along with that. By sharing this, I hope to spark a sense of understanding, compassion, and empathy within my readers towards their church leaders.
It’s Not Fair!
Church leaders do a LOT of sacrificing, and most of those sacrifices are unknown to the majority (as they should be). Leaders are oftentimes faced with situations where they have to place their own needs or desires on the back burner in order to prioritize the needs or feelings of others. This is something that I had a hard time accepting once I became a leader in my church. You mean to tell me that I can’t do A, B, and C simply because it MIGHT offend somebody that I don’t even know?? I remember talking to my husband about it on many occasions and saying to him, “It’s not fair!”
No, it’s not fair, but it IS necessary. It’s necessary because as a Christian, I have been called to live a life driven by selflessness and love. A life that mimics the life that Jesus lived while here on earth. I do not always get it right, and I sometimes choose my best interest over the interest of others. News flash: I’M HUMAN! And as a human being, it is sometimes extremely difficult to practice true selflessness.
But in spite of my humanity…I apologize.
To every person that I may have offended during my pregnancy, I apologize.
To every individual who felt as if my words were too harsh, I apologize.
If there is anyone who was ever hurt by my Mama Bear instincts, I apologize.
I also want to apologize in advance for any further harm that my actions may cause.
However, I cannot apologize for protecting my child.
I will not apologize for protecting my child.
It is my responsibility.
It is my job.
So…Ministry Leader or Mama Bear? I am and will always be both. And I pray that God will allow me to continue to do both well.
Thank you for joining me again and walking through this journey with me. I think I’ve finally found the perfect balance between Ministry Leader and Mama Bear. What do you think? Leave a comment below and let me know what you think. Until next time, stay beautiful!
Latrese ThomasJune 2, 2019 7:42 pm
I think you are doing a fantastic job and much more saved than me. All jokes aside, you brought up a good point that alot of people fail to consider, ministry leaders are human and are allowed to a certain level of privacy and space. I salute you… You are killing both roles magnificently!
Joanna CoatneyJune 3, 2019 11:01 am
Thank you so much! Sometimes I feel bad or guilty so your words are very encouraging!
JazzJune 25, 2019 7:18 am
…. and now folks would have to legit CATCH Third to TRY and hold him!! HE’S not having it!!! Great eye-opener and great read Sis!