Friday, February 22, 2013

I'm a Codfish

So, once upon a time I was headed back from an awesome CMA conference, poster tube in tow after presenting the results of a literature search on IVF alternatives. I get in line to board the plane and someone gets in line beside me  whom I perceive to be liberal. I couldn't tell all at once, and it's hard to explain or excuse, but I could tell (and I was right) that this person probably disagreed with 95+% of my social issue positions. I don't remember who initiated the conversation (probably me, believe it or not), but eventually the gentleman asked about my poster tube.

"So, what's that?"

"It's a poster," I explained. "I presented some findings at a medical conference this weekend."

"Oh, really? What's it about?"

And I had a chance to say, "it's about IVF alternatives. Did you know that there are methods that are cheaper and more effective than IVF, but IVF is still treated as 'first-line' therapy by most infertility doctors? Isn't that weird? You'd think couples would like to try something better first, especially if it didn't involve drugs and masturbation. And with everyone complaining about our healthcare system, you'd think we'd prefer cheaper stuff. Right?"

But did I do this? No. My fear of being alienated was so strong that I just said, "IVF."

"Oh really?" the gentleman was pleased. (He seemed sort of leery of me before. Like, 'you're dressed like you think you're body's sacred or something. You must be benighted, backwards, and indoctrinated.')

"My sister is doing that," he said.

Feeling wretched and ashamed of myself, and still not strong enough to tell him what the poster was really about, I started the sympathy song: "Oh, wow. That can be really hard."

"Yeah," he said, his tone and body language heartily agreeing. The conversation went on about how I'd been to college in California (facepalm) and how L.A. is a bastion of liberalism (the first true thing said).

I'm such a coward!

But wait, it gets worse. Last month our class had an exam. A few minutes before it was scheduled to start, the classmate behind me and I struck up a friendly conversation about our streams. I told her that I ranked so that I'd get OB/GYN sometime in the winter. "Oh, that's right," she said pleasantly. "You want to do OB/GYN!" And then, "Are you interested in infertility?"

"Yes!" I said warmly. And I'd already hashed out my shame at the airport failure, and resolved to be more courageous and here was an opportunity. I could have said something like, "I'm really inspired by the speed and success rates of fertility-awareness based infertility workups. Have you heard of that?"

But I didn't. And while I was hesitating, she went on. "I'm an IVF baby," she said happily, smiling as though I would be inspired by this.

There was a very small pause, then I said "Aw, wow!" and my delight was real: I am glad that she was born and glad that she was my classmate. But I was also thinking to myself "oh, gosh, IVF right in front of me," and "glad I didn't say anything bad about IVF," and "I guess Mormons must not see a problem in IVF" and "can we please start this GI test so that I can make decisions on multiple-choice questions instead of with conversations and IVF??"

More courage is needed. Good thing it's Lent.
Finally, draw your strength from the Lord and from his mighty power. Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil...and, having done everything, to hold your ground. So stand fast with your loins girded in truth, clothed with righteousness as a breastplate, and your feet shod in readiness for the gospel of peace. In all circumstances, hold faith as a shield, to quench all [the] flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. With all prayer and supplication, pray at every opportunity in the Spirit. To that end, be watchful with all perseverance and supplication for all the holy ones.... (Ephesians 6)


  1. I relate with this so much. Especially keeping track of "true" statements I make...and wincing... I'm still at the point where I consider it a "win" if I refrain from saying anything actually *false* in an effort to avoid a confrontation.

    I too have been praying for courage a lot recently, especially in the area of proclaiming truth about contraception and NFP. I'm glad you're in a similar spiritual boat.