“You need to finish your schooling before you have kids or you’ll never get done.”
“You need to be financially secure before you can even think about having kids otherwise you’ll be in debt for the rest of your life.”
Now how many of you will honestly raise your hands and attest to the fact that you’ve either had this said to you or have said it yourself? There is a growing trend in our society to put off the birth of children until upper levels of education and/or financial security is obtained. I am no different in this matter; in fact I’m almost finished with my Masters in Public Health and will be working for a few years to pay down educational debts before becoming pregnant for the first time. I would like to say though that I am starting to think a bit differently about the societal message that says “wait, wait, wait.”
Something has been tingling in the back of my mind about the message of “wait” and it’s been crystallizing for me over the past year. It boils down to a single question that I found myself asking: what does the Bible say about when to have children? Traditionally in ancient times, when a man became engaged to a young woman, he would go off for a time and prepare a place for her, there’s reference to this tradition in the fact that Christ as the bridegroom has gone to prepare a place for us his bride. When the bridegroom came back, he would whisk away his bride and they would begin to start their own family. So if you look at it there is some truth in preparing financially to become parents, but does it necessarily have to be when you have a quarter of a million saved up?
All of my life I have been dutifully following the “wait” message of the society in which I live. First, by finishing my undergraduate degree before even getting married. Second, by finishing my Masters in Public Health while my husband concurrently is getting his Masters in Divinity. Third, by resolving to get a job after my masters to pay down school debt, and then fourth, by having children after reaching some form of financial stability. A couple of months ago, however, I got smacked across the forehead with a verse in the Psalms:
“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb, a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!” – Psalm 127:3-5a
Children are the heritage I receive from the Lord, the fruit of my womb, my reward. And it specifically mentions that they are from my youth. This hit me rather poignantly because I have been having feelings like those of Sarah and Rachel who were barren for so long. Sometimes I feel like crying out (and have on several occasions) “How long must I wait? When can I have the desires of my heart?”
When it comes down to it, having kids and bringing them up to love the Lord is the most successful thing that I can do in my life. Sure I can have an interesting, well-paying job that would help take care of my family financially and potentially touch lives, but is that really supposed to be my job? Now don’t hear me wrong, I know what it’s like to grow up in a family where it was absolutely necessary for both my mom and dad to work in order to make ends meet, but I remember my mom being so exhausted every day and then having to deal with us younguns’ at the end of a long day at the office. Part of that does have to do with the educational decisions my parents made, but I don’t think that lack of education was the only thing feeding into our situation growning up (besides I’ve already surpassed them in training and the only thing it’s gotten me so far is lots of debt). I’m really starting to come to the conclusion, however, that getting a good education so you can get a good job and be financially well off is not what a woman’s goal should be.
Ultimately, I believe that it’s my job as a woman to be the best wife and mother than I can possibly be. I think I’ve got the wife part down pretty good, or at least that’s what Kyle says, and sometimes the wife thing does mean helping with the finances of the home by getting a job. But when it comes to being the best mother that I can be I sometimes feel like I’m being pulled asunder by the command to “wait.” What is so much more important than my heritage from the Lord that I have to wait until every debt is paid? If I did that I’d never have more than one, maybe two children because they cost money too. That really doesn’t sit right with me especially since I want to have a large family.
Now if the world is saying “wait” and the Bible says “children are a heritage from the Lord,” what is the world really saying if not ‘my priorities about being successful and well off, are more important than God’s about receiving my heritage’? I mean think about it. If we insist on being successful and all finished with school and have no debts and be bringing home $100K a year before we start thinking about having children, aren’t we ultimately being extremely selfish? (I do know some people who have done it that way but I don’t know that’s what we’re all supposed to be doing it.)
In this post I had intended to talk about some of the interesting things that are being found out in the world of science right now because people are waiting longer to have their children. Things like women who give birth at older ages are more likely to have children with Down’s Syndrome, dyslexia and other forms of mental retardation, and older fathers are more likely to pass down dwarfism, autism and congenital disorders, which have been discussed in several online articles that I’ve read from MedPages Today (most recently this article).
But when I sat down to write, the Lord put it on my heart to write this post. And even though I am still planning to wait a bit longer until I get pregnant (after prayer and discussion with my husband I might add), I don’t think that following society’s message of “wait” is the right direction for us as Christians to be heading. We are supposed to be a people set apart for God’s grace to shine through us. What better way for us to shine in a world that says “wait” than to trust in the Lord to provide for everything we need and for the needs of our children? Why should we as Christians be afraid about our financial futures and pass that down to our children? Will not our shepherd walk with us through the valleys as well as the green pastures and beside still waters? Realize your heritage and be joyful in it; I know that I sure plan to. I also plan to train my children to trust in the Lord for their provision of everything and to seek His perfect will for their lives, whether it means they are to wait until after all school is finished to get married and have children or not. God is in control of our lives, not the world, I think it’s about time that we start discovering what God really wants for our lives instead of listening to the world’s insistent message to put off and wait.