October 22, 2011

Day 22: Child Bearing

I would invite you to pray that this post would be received just as I intend.  I've wanted to write about having children for a long time.  Not raising them, we'll get to that next, but the process of getting the children (or not) in the first place.  This is an area of heart ache for many women and couples; it can also be an arena of strife and discord for many couples.  I do not tread here lightly.  But I want to share a little about my experience and how God used my circumstances to change me and make me a greater instrument for His service through these childbearing years.  My growing conviction is that God has quite a lot to teach us about His sovereignty and trusting Him as we navigate this phase of life.

Our Story

For us, infertility was not the issue;  Elizabeth was a "surprise" and caused quite a stir for us emotionally.   We had these plans, you know, to wait until the end of graduate school.  Ah, plans.

Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails.  Proverbs 19:21

Elizabeth rocked the boat of our plans but, nevertheless, I was ready for another baby when E was about 9 months old, Colin was not.  Now, some of this desire sprung from pure motives for E to have a sibling, enlarge our family, and such.  But some of the desire was fueled by what others around us were doing and by a teaching I had heard while in college that if you didn't trust God and have as many kids as He wanted to give you, then, well, you were doing things "wrong."  I didn't want people to think we weren't doing what God wanted us to do!  (Hm ... maybe I shoulda been thinking about what God would have us do. But I just wasn't there yet.)

I was so very focused on having another child that it was detrimental to our relationship on many levels.  But during this time God was also chipping away at my hard, selfish heart.  (And thankfully kept Colin from kicking me to the curb!)  As I look back, the theme verse I give those three years of waiting is Romans 12:15:
Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.
Because while I was longing and waiting (and whining about it to Colin and others ... a lot) "everyone else" with kids Elizabeth's age had or was expecting their second.  I had to learn that even when I was not getting what I wanted, I could (and should!) genuinely rejoice with those were were getting what I wanted.  During those years, I also walked through miscarriages with friends, learned of the prevalence of infertility, and supported friends caring for sick infants or grieving for babies they'd not see again till heaven.  Through that,  I was learning how to compassionately grieve with people enduring such pain.

The final thing I learned in this wrestling with sin and hope deferred, was how important it is for me to respect and submit to my husband.  He had very legitimate reasons for not following my plans for our life.  It took me way too long to get to a point of understanding and accepting the situation - talking about this makes me want to hang my head in shame and crawl into a hole.

But, oh, the gospel!  Jesus' blood covers over this multitude of sins against God and my husband.  Amazing grace, how sweet the sound!

Hindsight is 20/20

As God slowly drew my eyes away from myself and my idol worship, He enabled me to see the blessing of not having had a little one between Elizabeth and Brian.  There were so many ways I was free to care for neighbors and church members, because I was not caring for an infant.  We lived in university housing with many internationals and I was able to love and care for them more intentionally, welcoming them into our country and home, hoping to make their experience here just a little less lonely.

One great fear of mine that drove my "need" to have kids closer together, that God has more than addressed, was that our kids wouldn't have much of a relationship with one another if there were so many years in between.  (They're 4 years apart.)  At that point, I never imagined I'd be homeschooling.  How God guides our paths!  He's met a desire of my heart - that our kids have a relationship with each other - (despite all of my moping, weeping, and whining) by leading me in yet another unexpected direction.  Reminds me of a Proverb I read a couple of days ago:

A person may think their own ways are right, 
but the LORD weighs the heart.  Proverbs 21:2

For me, the overarching take-away from these child-bearing years is that God is sovereign and I can (and should!) entrust my desires, my present, and my future to Him.  Darn it if He doesn't have way better plans for us that we could ever devise!

*     *     *

So, there you have it.  God had plans for my life that involved dying to myself and learning to love my husband and others better.  How hard I tried to get my way, my way; how thankful I am that God would not let me or our family escape His plan!

If you find yourself in the midst of these years, whether with a bunch of small ones, difficult pregnancies, a sick child, or still longing for God to fulfill your desire for a child or more children, my prayer is that as you seek the Lord you will find Him ... and that you will find Him FAITHFUL.  Ask Him to help you entrust Him with the desires of your tender heart and to help you trust in His goodness, especially when life is not going according to plan.  For surely, His plans for you are greater, wiser, and more wonderful that you might now imagine in the midst of the busyness, sickness, longing, or waiting.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:6-7

His peace be yours today. 

This is Part 22 of a month-long series you can learn more about by starting with Day 1 here.  There are many others doing super cool series this month as well, perhaps you'd like to see the list?


  1. Heather, I appreciate your honesty so much. Thanks for sharing this and putting yourself out there. It's such an encouragement!

  2. I really appreciate this post (I am REALLY behind on your blog!). It has taken me SO LONG to learn the things you talk about here. I too want to hang my head in shame when I think about where my heart was just a few short years ago. Thank you for reminding me of a perspective I need to have as we wait for God's will on the rest of our family (if there is any!).

  3. Hilary, so glad this has spurred you on. We all come from such different places and experiences, but our God is the same and wants us each to share in His holiness. He makes it possible by setting us on the "just right" path for us to learn, grow, thrive, and serve. Thanks for commenting!