“Parenthood is challenging. You’re never ready to have a kid. It will totally change your life, and there’s no way to prepare for it…”
You could go on for hours with the clichés you have heard or used when discussing children, and parenting. So could I. These usually don’t make for interesting reading (or even listening) material. I will take a quick moment here to confirm that it is all true. There is no way of knowing exactly how your life will change when you have a child, what you can endure, how much you can love, the things you’d do for this little ball of flesh, bone, and soul… Suffice it to say kids keep you on your toes. I want to focus on a couple things that I don’t hear mentioned as often, but which I have found equally interesting or helpful.
Before we start with that, I think it’s necessary to mention how grateful I am for Bennett. I had been looking forward to having children for as long as I can remember, and while he has brought many unknown and unexpected challenges, he has been as much joy and fun as I dreamed about. His personality and love are a blessing to me, as is his mother. I could not ask for a better son, and I celebrate him and God’s gift of him to us on a daily basis. He is truly a blessing.
This first tidbit of wisdom was solicited from a good friend of mine before we had Bennett. I was asking for good parenting advice as I was feeling somewhat nervous. He challenged me to focus on God in the midst of really difficult times, to consciously meditate on how God fathers us, and let that inform my thoughts and actions in the midst of seeming chaos. Of all things, this has been the most educational and transforming thing I have done as a father. When your child won’t stop crying, you come face to face with your own weakness and brokenness, your inability to positively affect change, and most importantly, how our Father feels when we continue on our own path towards pain and heartbreak while He attempts to guide us in the better way. The frustration is, at times, palpable and curse-inducing. This action also has helped me to understand God’s grace and love in a way I never did prior to having a child of my own. There is also no better way (that I have found anyway) to become truly aware of how much God our Father desires good for us than to become a father. I want so much for Bennett, that I sometimes sit up nights or daydream about what I hope I can do for him or with him to prepare for the difficulties of life in our unforgiving world. More than anything, I want him to know the LORD in a better way than myself. I want to teach him to trust Him in a way that I have not yet attained. I want him to love and forgive, to find joy and peace in a Creator who loves with awe-inspiring magnitude.
The previous paragraph greatly informs the next topic: the goodness of having children. A different friend inquired regarding the inherent GOODness of family. Now, before anyone gets all up in arms (I know many of the readers here are moms), let’s step back and consider some of the things we know. There are numerous instances of people who served God well and completely while never marrying or parenting. I would not self-aggrandize to the point of placing myself as these saints’ equal, and they obviously had some insight that many of us do not. The normal responses include “Be fruitful and multiply…” and Paul’s narrative regarding marriage and the service of God. Some would go so far as to say that we have a responsibility to have many children and raise them in a Godly fashion in order to combat the evil at work in our world. Again, I would not presume to have this knowledge, nor do I necessarily agree with the premise. In order to answer the question, I think one needs to examine themselves, and how God has worked in the past, continues to work in the present, and the desires he has placed within us. I could get on a soapbox regarding humility and the body of Christ, but that is for another time. I would say that I believe having children is a GOOD thing (but may not be the best thing for the individual person). My reasoning is summarized with the following:
· God rarely puts circumstances and methods into place without purpose. It’s a simple idea, but marriage, sex, and family are inextricably tied together. I believe God has done this for a reason.
· One of the main reasons being to use these children to teach and purify us as we help train them in the way they should go. Some others…
· For humility
· For love
· For the enjoyment of fellowship with family.
In conclusion, I would like to celebrate my son this week. I am proud of him and love him. He already knows this because he has been told, and will continue to be told this by me. Please do the same for your child(ren). They need your love, just as we need God’s; even though we don’t deserve it.
Post written by Sam.