This is the second post in a 3-part series on a fundamental aspect of marriage and family – having children.
Part 2: Why Are You Getting Children?
There are girls who dream of their weddings from a very early age.
There are those who dream of being mothers at an early age too.
I was neither one.
My nose was too far down a Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys novel to be bothered.
I did mention I’m a zagger in the previous post, didn’t I?
Eventually, I did become a wife and I was content. Motherhood would come when it did and I had no desire to rush into it. Between my conversations with God and His revelations of our children, I wasn’t taking the role lightly.
My slow pace and depth of inquiry led me to some aha moments. Some of which I want to share here.
In all the flurry and unwarranted pressure that comes with the query of when a couple is going to have children, there are some pillars of parenting that end up getting ignored.
I think there are two fundamental questions any serious Christian couple in a divine marriage need to ask.
1. Has God ordained us for parenting? If He has, what form of parenting?
You would think it’s automatic that every married couple must bear children.
What of couples God has ordained for a different life with no children of their own but certainly not lacking in love for the children in their lives? Just because they’re rare, doesn’t mean they don’t (rightfully) exist.
What of couples who get married/re-married in their sunset years who have no desire or grace to pull an Abraham and Sarah on the world?
You would also think it’s automatic that the way a married couple (man and woman) will have children is with the wife carrying the baby to full term.
Yet there are couples who are called to foster and adopt children who they may not have physically birthed but are their children in every sense of the word. And that’s a broad and meaningful sense.
This may or may not be in addition to having biological children. And they’d be quite content with the lot God has given them in life were it not for us well-meaning folk and our incessant inability to mind our business.
One of the things I love about God is how He actively refuses to enter the tiny, obvious and rather ridiculous boxes we insist on putting Him in. Yes, we are called to be fruitful, multiply and fill the earth. But He was speaking about more than just children and He certainly never said there was only one way to go about it.
2. Why is God giving us children (in whatever capacity)?
We rarely go beyond – to multiply and fill the earth – which is probably why we’re so prone to using it as a weapon on couples in the name of encouraging them.
So here’s a lesson in toddlerism – follow up your first why with an immediate second why. And then another why…and another…
Purpose will help you understand why you’re parents/going to become parents.
Why are we filling the earth?
People have children for a myriad of reasons.
Because they believe they’re supposed to.
Because they want to prove people wrong.
Because they want to prove people right.
Because they’re looking for a do-over in life.
Because they want to be accepted.
Because first comes love, then marriage, then babies in a carriage….
I could go on and on.
To put it bluntly, there’s a scaring number of us who consider children our property. God-given, yes, but property nonetheless. It’s in the way we talk and in the way we act concerning them.
We own them as though they emanated directly from our loins and not first from God in eternity. As though the God who knew them before they were knitted in the womb has no claim to them now besides the pittance we throw His way.
This is why I’m up in arms concerning the conversations that precede a child’s conception and birth. If we believe we’re entitled to them before they’re even born – whether as parents, family, friends, church or society – we’ll automatically expect them to continue fulfilling our desires throughout their lives as they did by being born at our beck and call.
There’s one fundamental flaw with that.
Children are not born to meet our desires. They’re born (and live) to fulfill their God-given destiny.
Every whim of expectation and desire we have concerning them has to be submitted to God. This is especially so where brokenness exists in us. And there’s plenty of it in our hearts and homes.
There is only one child in the history of mankind who had the ability to save. He was born in a manger in a tale we’re all familiar with.
All other children before, during and after His time on earth, are called to express the finished work of Christ or foreshadow the same. They’re called to manifest Christ not to become Christ.
Yet look at the roles we’re assigning children.
To give us a second chance (by living the life we wish we had).
To give us a sense of self-worth.
To complete us (and/or our marriages/families).
To make us/our spouses/our relatives/our friends/society happy.
To prove our manhood/masculinity or womanhood/femininity.
It’s all about us, us, us, us and us. What about God? What about them?
They’re doomed to fail before they even take their first breath because we’ve put them on a life mission that their Creator never gave them. A mission that we’ve heaped on them because we either don’t know, have forgotten or completely disregarded our place as stewards.
Stewards, not creators.
Yes, God will use our children to minister to us. They will minister to our brokenness in ways we cannot fathom. In many ways, God will also use them to meet our (healthy) desires. But they will do so on His terms, not ours.
So does God’s why match your why?
My husband and I aren’t idly waiting to have kids plonked into our arms. We’re actively submitting our hearts to God to ensure we’re aligned to what He wants us to do with these babies who are first His, before they become ours.
So I will not allow, in any measure, for anyone to assign their humanistic goals to our children, for themselves, or on our behalf. If you think I’m being difficult now, wait till they’re born. The Momma Bear in me is raring and ready to go.
Purpose (why) will help you understand when to be parents.
In my conversations with God, one of the shockingly simple things He explained to me was that there are some couples who think they’re barren, who have been declared infertile by doctors, yet the only issue is that it simply isn’t time for those children to be born yet. Go figure.
There’s also the flipside where you can’t hold back a child whose time has come. Haven’t we all heard of stories where a family planning method fell through? While that child may be a surprise to their parents, they are neither a surprise nor an accident from God’s perspective.
It’s imperative that a couple trusts God all the more to raise such a child because if they hold on to feeling like that child “wasn’t part of the plan”, “came at the wrong time”, or “should never have been”, it will have a negative spiritual impact on the child’s well-being. You’ll wonder why they act out in certain ways later in life yet they’ve been dealing with rejection since they were in the womb.
The institution of family has been under attack by the devil for millennia because of the power vested within it. He will attack everything from conception, to pregnancy, to childbirth, to a child’s life all the way into their adult years.
We can’t wage a war we don’t even know we’re in or whose seasons we don’t understand. Battling with the devil to bring forth a conception in the wrong season is redundant. Sitting back and waiting to have a merry time because God has spoken that it’s time is also equally detrimental.
If we rely more on medical experts and any self-proclaimed experts than God for the wellbeing of our children, there’s a crisis waiting to happen. With all their expertise, the best doctors can do is attempt to treat the body that bears the symptoms of an issue. Every attack we face as believers originates in the realms of the spirit. If you don’t address that which is spirit, in the spirit, then the odds are heavily stacked against you and your child/children.
Purpose will help you understand how to be parents.
An oversimplified definition of parenting is raising children into mature adults.
But what are you raising them into if you don’t even know what they’re supposed to eventually look like?
The world can temporarily get away with the generic – good, productive members of society. We don’t have that luxury as believers. Not when we have Christ and all of heaven backing us.
The same way God created us in His image and likeness, our children too are created in His image and likeness. Parenting is one of the make-or-break determinants of whether they actually end up looking like Him or looking like us. It’s sheer irony how many parents punish their children for being an accurate mirror of who they (parents) are.
For the sake of balance, I must also add, that as we trust God to find out who our children are to become, we must also trust Him for how to raise them into that. Don’t be hasty to act on a fragment of revelation to the detriment of your child. If God had to tell you what they are called to be, don’t assume you know how to raise them to be. Especially if their call is similar to yours.
God is practical. Extremely so. For instance, if He reveals to you that one of your children will be a musician, there are certain traits and interests you shouldn’t be surprised to see in that child. There are things you can proactively do – as the Lord leads – to create an environment for this child to become e.g. music lessons.
We’ve spent too much time looking to society and the world’s definition of achievement to tell us how to raise our children and give them the best chance of success. We need to get into our prayer closets for a change and actually inquire of the One who made them. It’s would be tragic if our children, our supposedly Christian children, reached the greatest heights of worldly success only to fail miserably in making their mark in the Kingdom they actually emanated from.
Purpose will help you sustain the health of your marriage as you parent your children.
This begins even before the children are born. With all the pressure that gets heaped on married couples to have children, conceiving those children can quickly become a toxic journey.
Instead of sex being an expression of love, it can morph into a functional tool to create flesh and blood. As though created beings could solely create a being. How quickly we forget that like us, babies are not merely flesh and bone. They’re spirit and soul too, something that we have contend for from the word go.
Rather than a couple journeying together, a blame game can ensue, often courtesy of seeds planted by the enemy through ignorant loved ones. It was Peter, a beloved disciple, not Judas, that Jesus had to rebuke.
I’ve observed that we tend to focus on the birth of children the way we focus on planning weddings. In the process, we inadvertently forget that there is life after their birth, just like there is a marriage to sustain after the wedding. The foundation of the environment these children are growing up in is the marriage. So it needs to be kept healthy not just for the sake of the children but also for the sake of the man and woman in the union.
A husband and a wife can each have their individual desires and expectations when it comes to children. But when they choose to exalt and prioritize that which God has laid out for them, it bears the fruit of unity and oneness in having and raising those children.
Again, the reason I’m keen on the conversations preceding the birth of children, is because they eventually grow up and leave. Empty nest syndrome can easily occur especially if one or both parents had made their children the centre of their lives rather than Christ. There are marriages that have to be jump started back to life when the children leave the nest because they were abandoned to die when the children were born. Not to mention, it’s easy to start looking (and demanding) for replacements in the form of grandchildren; a pursuit that a vast majority of couples have borne the brunt of from their parent(s).
If we start off parenting on the wrong foundation – a foundation other than the truth of God for the couple and their children – that house will eventually come tumbling down. Even if it takes decades to do so.
Why do you have children? Why do you want to have children? Is it the same reason why God has given/wants to give you these children?
How you choose to proceed will affect your destiny as a couple, that of your children and that of every person God has created them to impact. It is not a conversation that should be rushed, pressured or taken lightly.
May you find the requisite truth for your situation and contend for it with the help of the Holy Spirit.