Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Answering "THE" question

I've actually been asked about this topic (in person) several times in the last few months, so I decided I'd go ahead and blog about it. I'm not doing this to step on any toes, really. Just to get the 'splanation out there so the folks asking about it can read my "put together" thoughts. As I've stated before, I think much better when I'm writing than when I'm speaking.

Not too long ago, while perusing one of the discussion boards I piddle around at now and then, I came across a mom who was wondering how to explain to her children just why people were SO cruel with their comments about the size of their family. Her story wasn't the typical "Are they all yours?", no....this one took the cake. She'd gone to run errands with her five children, who were being well-behaved (not the standard post-office brats who can't seem to understand that public offices aren't playgrounds), and just the mere size of her brood aroused the ire of a man in the office. He resorted to shouting insults and suggesting very loudly that she should just "slit her throat and get it over with", that she must be psychotic and needed to be on medication. She calmly assured him that she did indeed LOVE the wonderful children that God had blessed their family with, but his tirade continued, to the amusement of several others in the office. Her children were terrified, but that didn't seem to deter the nastiness, and when she got home, she had to attempt to alleviate her 9-year-old's fears that their mother was one step away from insanity.

I've had some off-the-wall comments since our family size expanded past the 2.1-child "average", but that one...I'm not sure I'd have handled it as calmly as she did. What is WRONG with people? Nevermind that mothers don't seem to be enforcing the "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all" rule anymore, this type of attitude goes straight to the core. Has our society truly rejected what God calls a blessing, and decided across-the-board that children are burdens to be avoided, insulted, and considered a "curse" when their arrival is unplanned by the parents?

By society's standards, what is the criteria for determining how many children each family should have? National averages? Seating arrangements in a vehicle (don't laugh, I've actually heard that one--"Don't have more children than your sportscar can hold")? How many bedrooms a house has and whether or not you'll still have space for that media room and an office? Social status? Are only the Brangelinas of the world allowed to have large families (nevermind they're not even MARRIED--he says they'll marry when "everyone" can)? Maybe it's your tax bracket or the size of your bank account. Is it the number of designer wardrobes you can afford and how many college degrees you are willing to finance?

It was actually that question that prompted us to reverse what we now consider to be a horrible mistake, although it took almost eight years of mental agony to get to that point. We'd not really even considered the attitude we'd taken toward children until the vasectomy had already been done. But almost immediately, a comment I'd only half paid attention to started echoing in my mind. A year before the vasectomy, when we announced our third despite-birth-control pregnancy, the only thing we could say was "Obviously God meant for us to have three children." The reply was "Well, I certainly hope He doesn't intend for you to have FOUR!" We lost that baby, and very quickly made the decision to end the possibility of having more "accidents". We weren't even really thinking about what we'd said regarding that third pregnancy being "obvious". It didn't really hit home until we realized we were feeling a twinge of heartache every time one of our friends announced a pregnancy by using the words "blessing from God". With each birth around us, the fact that maybe God had something in mind that we'd not even considered for our family smacked us firmly across both cheeks. Did we even believe they were a blessing? Or was the 'blessing' thing just a fluffy little euphemism that we attached to baby shower cards just as flippantly as people say "bundle of joy"? Is it true that they really are a BLESSING? A gift? Something that God WANTS us to have?

What if?

We have both known for a long time that we are the type of couple who does things differently. Neither of us has ever been "mainstream" people, but yet there we were, letting mainstream ideas form us and plan our life so we looked like, talked like, and lived like everyone else in the world. What if God wanted something different? Looking to God's Word, neither one of us could find anything in Scripture that spoke favorably of man (or woman, for that matter) plotting his own path--there is plenty speaking negatively of man's "plans", though. We also couldn't find anything that agreed with the world's anti-child view of family planning. It perplexed us to learn that until right around the beginning of the 20th century, the vast majority of the world's Bible-preaching churches (of just about all 'flavors') condemned the use of birth control, and people truly believed that God was the Author of ALL life--that each and every child born into every family was a blessing to be treasured. More horrifying was the knowledge that Planned Parenthood's founder is one of the most outspoken humanists of our time, and that "modern" birth control was used by feminists to promote the idea that a woman should have "more" than the life of a wife and mom. As if all of that wasn't enough, we then found out that the now widely-accepted birth control pill and IUD (as well as several other forms of hormonal contraception) use aborifacient--abortion-inducing--methods of "avoiding" pregnancy (that is, unless you believe that life begins at conception and not only when implantation occurs).

All of these things really began to eat at our hearts, and we were convicted to hand that portion of our lives back over to God. In November of 2001, we did just that--Pete's vasectomy was reversed. We didn't have the reversal in an effort to have as many babies as we could possibly fill our home with. We're not competing with the Duggars, I assure you--although Morgan and Jamie are fascinated by such a large, loving family when we watch them on TV. We had the reversal to surrender to the Lord a portion of our lives that we'd kept Him out of and told Him that we "knew better". It has meant adding four new faces to our family portrait, and in all honesty, we'd welcome ten more if that's what the Lord has in mind for our family before my body loses the ability to bear children safely. Why? Because we believe God when He says He opens and closes the womb. We don't have children because they're just some natural function of a biological event, we have children because God chooses to place each and every one of them in our family.

Do we judge people who don't do things the way we do? Heavens, no. Quite frankly, I'm a little too busy with my own bunch to worry about somebody else's convictions! Am I overwhelmed? Sometimes, but you know....I find myself far less overwhelmed than I was with just the first two, because my heart and my mind are in a different place now. I don't see my kids as burdens. I don't see them as financial liabilities or injustices against my own personal dreams. I see them as individual souls, to be raised up for God's service and aimed into the world to bring glory to Him.

Am I psychotic? Maybe...I'm sure I have my moments! I'm human, I'm not perfect, and I struggle with my own issues just like every one else in this world. Am I on medication? Well, that depends--does chocolate count?


Stonefox (otherwise known as Heidi) said...

Kris, you don't know what this post meant to me. I am personally aghast at how the people of Christ have taken this whole matter into their own hands, completely ignoring scripture. I don't judge people for the choices they have made, but I truly wish believers would get biblical with their view on children.

My husband and I have not used birth control for 12 years. The older I get, the harder it is (for me) to trust God with this. But I dare not take matters into my own hands (and rob myself of the blessing in the process).

Thank you for sharing your heart and your obedience to what you see in scripture. I wish this message could be broadcast to every professing believer in america.

momofgr8kidz said...

Very well put! I really wish we wouldn't have gone through with the vasectomy. It is really weighing heavy on my heart right now. Thanks for sharing.

Kathleen said...

There are VERY few times I'm out with all 4, and I don't get the, "Are they ALL yours?" followed by the, "Boy, you must have your hands full!" especially when the person learns the age of the kids (my first 3 are each only 14 months apart). I've begun responding with, "Not really. They're really, truly great kids." Even just the, "You've got your hands full" tends to imply how burdensome children are. I get the same incredulity about the homeschooling--not necessarily a negative reaction, but just one of "You are absolutely out of your mind; I could never do that." Honestly, because I have so many friends who have more than 4 (we have chosen to stop at 4), 4 doesn't even seem like that many!

Wendy said...

Well said Kris. Our stories are very similar. I shudder to think of my two post reversal babies not being there if we hadn't obeyed the Lord in having the reversal. I wish other Christians would take trusting God seriously in this area.

BTW: Margaret Sanger, founder of planned parenthood was a eugenistist, believer in the elimination of "undesirable races". She loved Hitler!

Qtpies7 said...

I Would have asked for someone to call the police, because that man was outright attacking her, with witnesses. Totally out of line, and he could have easily have gotten hauled in over it, certainly had a restraining order set against him.
I guess I am just not that nice that I would take that or let someone abuse my kids verbally, even if they are saying it to me, not them.

Becky said...

Beautifully said! We live in the NW and there are few large families. We are often accused of being insane...or trying to be Brangelia.

Anthony said...

Wonderfully said!

We had a miscarriage, then our daughter, then a son who was born with a fatal heart defect, and then our second daughter.

So we have two here and two in heaven.

But we had a vasectomy about eight years ago. I didn't think emotionally I could handle another pregnancy anyway, and we were planning on adopting.

That didn't work. And I've always felt that not having more children will be my one major regret.

We can't do anything about it now, and I'm at peace with that. It's one of those things where you realize you made a mistake, you go to God with it, and He gives you peace.

But it still hurts.

God has replaced the children I could have/should have had with an enlarged ministry, and with extended family who have ended up living with us instead. I have others to love, and I wouldn't have had the time or the space had I had more children.

So I asked God to fill my life with people to mother, and He answered that prayer.

He is good.

But I will always counsel women from now on not to listen to the lie about birth control. I still dream of the "what if" babies, even though I adore the ones I do have.

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