This is the final post in a 3-part series on a fundamental aspect of marriage and family – having children.
Part 3: Waiting To Have Children
To those in waiting.
Jinsi nilivyo nitakusifu, (As I am, I will praise You)
Aliyeumba mbingu na nchi, (Creator of heaven and earth)
Sifa zake zi kinywani mwangu, (His praises are in my mouth)
Daima, daima. (Forever and ever)Rev. Loice Adhiambo
Specifically, those who are married.
I don’t know the circumstances that have you in waiting.
Maybe you’re newly-weds or not-so-newly-weds for whom children aren’t on the radar just yet.
Maybe you’ve been trying and you’re yet to have a reason to take the pregnancy test much less see two lines.
Maybe you did try and your joy was cut short by tragic loss.
Whichever the case may be, my encouragement to you, odd as it may be, is to become the right kind of prisoner.
Waiting is by its nature a kind of sentence. It renders us captive in between where we are and where we want to be. You can choose to be a prisoner of your circumstances. Or you can choose to be a prisoner of hope based on the truth of who God is.
Return to your fortress, you prisoners of hope; even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you.Zechariah 9:12 NIV
There will be those in your life who handle you with the dignity and respect you need for this journey. Be thankful for them.
There are those who will mishandle you in some way, either out of ignorance or simply not caring to do better. Be gracious towards them.
Grace doesn’t excuse that which is wrong. It holds us accountable for our words and actions. So where grace abounds, so must speaking. Speak up when someone crosses a boundary they shouldn’t. Far too many individuals and couples are suffering in silence and those causing the pain are clueless.
Yes, I know it’s hard. I’ve been there. It will mean having difficult conversations with people, perhaps even your spouse. Some will get it and be sincere in making amends. Some won’t get it. They’ll be brazen in carrying on with business as usual. Love them from a healthy distance where possible. Whoever they may be, especially if it’s your spouse, spend time praying for them that the Holy Spirit may sensitize them to your concerns.
If you’re not sure how to frame that conversation, feel free to make use of the posts and resources in this series and this template:
I didn’t like it when you said/did _________ because it made me feel __________. In future, please say/do ___________ instead.
Grace also requires us to hold ourselves accountable to forgive and release people with alacrity. Reconciliation may take some time because it involves the offender and a rebuilding of trust lost. But forgiveness is squarely the responsibility of the offended because it’s for their wellbeing. The last thing you want in a season where you’re trying to get a child is to have the roots of bitterness embedded in your life. The spiritual ramifications of bitterness aren’t pretty. Forgiveness brings much needed liberty.
For those who’ve been waiting (especially for a while) – Waiting Wombs Trust offers support for couples who’ve had a difficult child waiting period.
For those who’ve suffered miscarriages, stillbirths and infant loss – Still A Mum is an invaluable support group.
He heals the brokenheartedPsalm 147:3 ESV
and binds up their wounds.
To those in the waiting room with them.
You’re part of their family. You’re their friend.
The proximity you have to them in their wait is a result of the relationship between you.
Just because no trumpet sounds indicated it, take not for granted that the Lord Himself has positioned you in their life in this season. You are not only accountable to them for how you handle them, but to Him as well.
The reason familiarity breeds contempt is because the closer you are to a person the easier it is for you to assume you know what’s best for them.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV
Acknowledge the Lord in your love and support for the couple as they wait.
If they haven’t invited you to speak with them concerning this matter, please don’t invite yourself. Don’t ask questions that are neither necessary nor helpful. Don’t offer advice that will likely be redundant to them because it’s nothing they haven’t already considered. Don’t “encourage” them with unnecessary hints, insensitive comments, crass jokes, Scripture used waay out of context, guilt trips, thinly veiled threats, etc.
Short of being the man or woman of God who is their spiritual cover, few others have the grace required to bring up such conversations without invitation. If you automatically think you’re one of the few, it’s highly likely you’re not.
If you’d like an invitation into the conversation, it would be wise to ask before you launch into the matter. Something as simple as – are you comfortable with me bringing up the topic of children? – would get the conversation going and establish what works for all involved.
And even if that invitation has been made, before you open your mouth to say a single thing, run it by the Holy Spirit first. If He tells you to keep your mouth shut, it would be wise to heed His counsel.
It may seem like I’m fussing over nothing, but couples go through a ton that they’re not going to publicize because it’s largely their business. Something like a miscarriage is unlike any other death because typically most people aren’t even aware of the pregnancy much less the loss. If you ambush them with a conversation that seems straightforward to you but is anything but to them, you can easily inflict more mental and emotional turmoil.
The best way you can love and support a couple is to pray for them. The reason we end up making a mess of things in our relationships is because we don’t bother to pray. We want to help, we insist on helping, and we proceed to do so without the leading of God.
And no, you don’t need to have their complete medical and spiritual file to pray. Sigh. If you are genuine in calling on God on their behalf, the Holy Spirit will lead you on how to pray. He will intercede on their behalf where you are limited. Prayer is not and should never be used as an excuse for being nosey.
When I say pray, I don’t mean find a “prayer partner” to talk to about them. We have a ridiculous problem with gossip as Christians. We can pretty it up all the ways we want to but slander remains slander. Even if the couple doesn’t know, or doesn’t tell you they know (discernment isn’t a fictitious gift), God is aware. Be careful when you’re busy destroying someone else’s house with your words; in your distraction, you may be too blind to see that your own house is crumbling down all around you.
If you must speak about them, let it be to God. Pray that their marriage would grow healthy and strong. Pray that their fertility would be undergirded by the living power of Christ. Pray that they would be the right kind of parents in the eyes of God. Pray for their unborn children and the destinies they carry.
If God speaks to you concerning the couple and/or their children, practice ministry etiquette and submit that message to their spiritual cover. Don’t run to them in your excitement to give them a half-baked message whose interpretation you may not even be accurate in. And certainly don’t go sharing what God told you in the secret place with people who have nothing to do with the matter.
If a couple informs you that they need you to reduce or completely stop saying or doing certain things, please honour their request. It is often with good reason that they do even if they don’t explain it to you.
Marriage is between two people and God; your relationship with them doesn’t entitle you to insist on walking with them in a way that only works for you with no consideration for their wellbeing. We can’t afford to hide behind love, concern, grace, and other similar Christianese while we hurt people. We need to ensure there’s divine order in our relationships.
To those who happen to be in the building.
You may know the couple from work, school, church, your estate, or other places that your paths may have crossed.
You may not be close enough to them to talk about intimate details of their lives. But you’re close enough to be a witness to their life.
What kind of witness are you?
What thoughts do you entertain about them?
What conversations do you have about them?
Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.Proverbs 18:21 KJV
Are you a witness who blesses or curses? Are the meditations of your heart something you would be proud of if they or others knew about them? Are you decreeing life or death over them with your words?
And if people are talking negatively about them while you listen and say/do nothing, you need to ask yourself why they’re so comfortable doing it in your presence and what it says about you.
To those lingering outside the building.
You don’t know the couple personally; you just know of them.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.Phillipians 4:8 NIV
Think about such things.
Talk about them.
Dwell on them.
If your knowledge of and interactions concerning a couple are of no profit to them, to you or anyone else, then consider camping elsewhere. Simply put – mind your own business.
To those who
don’t didn’t know the building exists.
It’s not by chance that you’re here, reading this.
God could be preparing you for your future or that of someone in your life.
As one of my teachers used to tell us – get what you can, and can what you get. This series may not be immediately useful to you now but there will come a time when it will be. When that season comes, may the Holy Spirit bring it to remembrance.
Meanwhile, consider if there’s someone in your life who could use it now and that you can send it to.
Getting (and raising) children is a truly beautiful thing. But it isn’t always a linear path. May we commit to loving each other better as we journey through our diverse seasons of life together.