Six months back, one located the other on Facebook, that best and worst of websites. We corresponded for a good while in these long letters, er, posts. The conversation ranged as far as can be imagined: How each spent the last 15 years, politics, culture, economics, religion, lots of religion. He's a minister, and an expert on our tradition's history. As we wrote, I thought about those old books anthologizing letters written between friends (and enemies).
We'd speak on the phone, we'd write. The subject finally turned to having kids, and more specifically, their choice to wait. One day, he wrote this:
When you had a ‘little [E.C.]’…what thoughts went through your head?Shazam. When you're asked that kind of question, there's no fudging an answer:
We still don’t have kids even though we love them. It’s just this world is such a rotten, crummy place for children and raising a family. I can hardly get past that concern. If you have a child, how, in this world, do you raise them to be God’s person? It is a really tall task. I mean, you can do your best and some idiot can undo all of that love and concern in just seconds.
Then there are the questions of, “What if this child is not healthy…what does that do to the ministry we have for God? How does that hinder (or help) it?”
So did you think that through? Or, did having a kid just sort of ‘happen’…. ;-)
I think for a lot of couples it just happens, but we have been more deliberate purposefully. We know life changes with children…which means we are having to think it through.
Any pearls of wisdom?
Yes, I was scared enough to wet myself that our child would be disabled... Not smart. Not pretty. Have 11 toes. Have no toes... Would be miscarried. Would be unpopular and unsocial. Would never find a mate. Would find a terrible one. Would rebel and hate us. Every fear that you've seen, have heard, or have imagined went through my mind... For awhile.Oddly enough, understanding the gravity of the decision doesn't necessarily push you towards saying 'no.' You just realize just how high the stakes are.
I worry that Jack won't be a Christian. That he will see my unbelief, my inaction, my hypocrisy, and say it's not worth it. Say that God is not worth it. Man, that scares the living daylights out of me.If you don't know, ministry badly chews up kids (and ministers). The children get to see all the ugly, normally unseen parts of church life and church struggles. My friend worried what that sort of life would do to a child's view of God. It's a darn good question.
Having children is an exercise in trust. The 100% self-reliant folks need not apply. Because you're gonna need some extra hands:
If you're worried about bringing a child into "this world" you're probably not worried about that. You're worried about something else: Chance. Fate. The unknown. Evil. Yourself. There were kids being born in Jerusalem in 69 AD. But more interestingly, there were kids being born around Jerusalem in 71 and 72 AD. After mom and dad saw what Rome (through Titus) could do, saw all of the uncertainty the world could bring, they kept having kids...**
Eventually you realize that as many calamities as you can fear, there are an equal number of wonderful things to hope for.
As I think I've told you before, kids are resilient. And if we made it through to this point, they can too. Will all of them? No. Will, as you said, some idiot come along and undo everything some parents have done? Yeah. And that's why you prepare, teach, ask God to make you a better preparer, and teacher, and person...
So at some point you have to say, "God, I trust you to make this child what s/he will be, and to make me strong, smart, good, trusting, kind, and resourceful enough to bear whatever you give to us."I did my best to convince him they were exactly the people that should be having kids:
Being deliberate about this isn't bad. I wish more people would be intentional, and think things through. I would love to know people like y'all are raising kids...
So did I convince him? No idea.
Jack's Line of the Week:
HM: "Jack, do you want some berries?"
JMW, Capt.: [enthusiastically nodding]
HM: "What kind of berries?"
JMW, Capt.: "Dakbewah." [Jackberries.]
**I know, I know, you can easily argue they didn't have much choice - but let's assume the conscious decision.