Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Brimming With Hope and Blessings

           I felt compelled to speak more on this topic of having of children since I am simply brimming with the anticipation of new life in our home.  These topics come about more often in one’s life when you are with child or carrying around a small infant.  Quite a few of my friends are in a similar state at the moment.  Therefore in support of life, I have let some of my thoughts on procreation spill forth here to share with those who may need the support, and for one lady in particular who newly finds herself brimming as well.

          As I have said before, I am a proponent of staying out of other people’s bedrooms, since it is truly a prudential decision between you, your spouse and God.  But, here are some observations from my own experiences.  I do not purport that I know what is right for your own life and family.

n28206620_30769619_8285          There are a couple of old sayings that come to mind when I think on having children.  Number one, “God will provide.”  This is not a foolish old saying, simply thinking that I need do nothing other than have faith.  There is a reason people say, “God will provide.”  It is because God does know our needs.  He is after all, all-knowing, all-powerful and always present.  Most importantly, God wants to give us all His love. This is all to say, financially speaking, is there really ever a good time to have children? Will there ever be enough?  But to say, “God will provide,” is a leap of faith not for the faint of heart.

          My husband and I had a child one and half years into graduate school.  It was a hardly a time, financially, to have a child.  But we realized that in the vocation of marriage that the secondary purpose of marriage is to be ordered toward life.  In fact, it was a very good homily on life and marriage that truly conceived our son.  It was the last catalyst we needed to hear to fulfill this part of our marriage.

92_2514          When our son was born, we struggled, but we grew in the Spirit.  Our son had trouble with asthma during his first year of life and was in the hospital a few times, but through it all God did provide.  We were not left with financially crippling hospital bills.  Hospital charity and St. Vincent De Paul Society took care of it for us.  We learned though we may experience trial and yes, even some suffering, this life we live is   not about dying with possessions, perfect bodies or money in the bank.  It is all about salvation and our children play into that.  Everyday we know that we would rather be penniless than be without our son, Alexander, because he has brought us closer to God.  He (and each subsequent child) has helped us love and serve the Lord. 

          Which brings me to the next saying, “The more the merrier.”  People scoff at large families.  People look at the high degree of organization and management large families must perform.  People see that large families go without a lot of the luxuries we have become accustomed to.  Yet more often than not people seem ignore the greater amount of love in those families; or that those family members have a greater sense of responsibility and service to each other than a smaller family.    Further, regardless of family size I have never heard a family member say, “I really wish Billy, or Sue were not born.”  I have heard parents say, I wish we had had more children, or I wish we could have more.

          As far as age and physical restrictions, obviously there are quite a few biblical examples in which folks gave birth to children in advanced age.  For me, this goes back to, “Is there ever a perfect time to add a person to your family?” The answer will always be a double edged sword.  One can always answer for oneself, “Yes, now and always. For the love of God is with us,” or “No, not quite now, because of x-y-z.”  I always have to ask myself, “Is x-y-z a good enough answer?”  I can always think of plenty of reasons of why yes it is and no it is not.  Nothing is without consequence.  It is truly another leap of faith.  But, I guess we have to trust that it is God’s will for us if we should conceive.  Too, I know that the Church does not condone contraceptive, even mental contraceptive.

Laramie Kids Easter Sunday 1990           I have learned not to have regrets.  I do not want to get to a place in my life in which I regret not having more children, or regret not having spent enough time loving them.  So honestly, if someone says to me, I am not sure we should have a child, I wish I had another, or I am considering having another, etc.  I say, you should.  It is never too late.  “Children are a blessing.”  It is true, even in the greatest of suffering, children are a blessing.  More children are more blessings, and these blessings are carried forth into the world and bless others.  Therefore, the more blessings you have the more the world will be blessed.  We all carry God’s love.

These are my perspectives on having children.  It is not to say at all what you should do or what is right for your family.  But, I hope it is a good witness to the faith.


Michelle M. said...

Renee, I'm so glad you posted this. It is very thorough and full of wisdom. It is wonderful to read posts like this because, even if we are the minority, people with larger families need to share the truth about childbearing and childrearing. It is in God's design that we may be "fruitful and multiply". And this is a GIFT, not a burden, which I am afraid is how a lot of people see it, especially younger people.

I'm thankful for people like you who post about this things! May God continue to bless you, especially as your little girl is about to be born.

Michelle M. said...

I am going to post a link to this post in the discussion below my post, that way the people interested there will come on over here to read yours :)

Anne said...

It is a profound witness to the faith, even if people are initially put off by your witness :) What you are doing, how you are raising your kids, and the way you are living your life with them will be noticed and people will remember it.

I love your family :) and I'm blessed to be a part of it!

Sh. Patty said...

I linked here from Michelle's blog. Thank you for the post! Very respectful and godly!

Kacy said...

I agree with you for the post part, but I have to admit that I get angry when people say, "God will provide," when referring to physical needs. (I'm not angry at you, but the statement really upsets me.)

As a personal example, I couldn't afford groceries this week. My daughter and I lived off bread and yogurt for 2 days until my husband got his paycheck. We haven't been wasteful. He's gone (literally out of state, gone) 80% of the time and mistreated by his company, not getting paid for his time away or the work he puts in.

I am thankful for our bread and yogurt and that my husband has a job at all. But being on the edge of losing everything has shown me that there are people who have it worse off.

I read that around the world a child dies every 5 seconds from hunger. Even in my own city, I've seen children beaten by their parents while waiting in line at the foodstamp office. I have a hard time telling these parents that "God will provide," and even a harder time saying this to the children. It seems like this is a very white, middle-class, American notion. It's a dangerous one too, as it's a form of the health and wealth gospel.

Sorry for being such a downer. I just think that "God will provide" refers more to our spiritual needs than our material needs. I also have to interpret the verses about God caring for you more than the flowers and not worrying about tomorrow as spiritual rather than material. Otherwise, God would be a lying trickster.

Renee Clayton said...

Kacy, perhaps you assume too much about our own struggles through life and parenthood. Further, who says that the suffering we endured was not the blessing God provided. This is further why I said, "even in the greatest of suffering children are a blessing."

I do not think we can know the weight of the crosses each other bears. I am sorry for what you are going through right now. While at the moment things are pretty peachy for my family.

I think there is a much longer discussion here on faith and prudence. However, I do disagree with you, while you believe that what God provides is only spiritual, I have a little more faith than that. I believe that God cares for the needs of our whole being. Our souls and bodies are not separate entities. I believe that, "give us this day our daily bread" does not mean only spiritual or only physical, but as it is translated in the Greek, "give us that which sustains us." I believe that God loves and provides for the needs of ALL his creation. Otherwise, I would have to believe God created us and then left creation to "tick" on it's own, like the "Divine Watchmaker" argument.

That said, the next time you have nothing but yogurt and bread to eat, please do not hesitate to contact me. I'd rather give you the shirt off my back, than have you think that God does not care for your physical needs as well. We also have baby boy clothing going unused at the moment and we would like to send it your way. Whatever you are in need of I am sure we have it. (Which btw, much of this clothing came to us pretty miraculously as well.) "Ask and you shall receive." No, not just spiritually, but physically as well. Because sometimes what the soul needs is to know that not only are our spiritual needs cared for but our physical needs.

I am quite serious about my offers here. I want you to email me your address.

Kacy said...

I believe God takes care of both body and spirit. I wasn't trying to set up a dualistic anthropology.

All material and spiritual blessings certainly come from God. But it seems as if some people are left out of one, the other, or both.

I count myself blessed for having bread, yogurt, rice, and lentils (I forgot to mention the rice and lentils because Fee didn't like them). But there really are people literally dying of hunger, not just eating poorly for 2 days.

I guess this brings up the question of theodicy, which is totally not what you intended by your post. ;-) Sorry about that. I'm still really disturbed by the issue of theodicy. Perhaps this is a lack of faith or trust in God's goodness on my part. Or perhaps, I think about this often because I'm still de-toxing from Calvinism. lol

At church, we've started doing a series on the beatitudes. It's caused me to really question the degree to which promised blessings are physical, meant for the here and now, and to what degree they're spiritual/eschatalogical promises.

I'm still not comfortable with the phrase "God will provide," because people die of hunger, many childless couples will fail to conceive and not have the resources to adopt, sick people will not get transplants. Maybe the phrase "God CAN provide" works better.

I hope I didn't hijack your comment box. I just think about this a lot but lack adult company as a conversational outlet. Feel free to delete my crazy ramblings if you would like, no offense will be taken.

And I'm sending you my address. One thing I've learned is that God works through the generosity and support of others to provide during rough times. :-)

Renee Clayton said...

I think you have hit it on the head. The issue you struggle with here is a matter of theodicy. One of my mentors from Gonzaga University, Fr. Robert Spitzer gave lectures on this matter. He is a very much an expert of the subject. He was on Larry King Live last week. He has a book called "Healing the Culture: A Commonsense Philosophy of Happiness, Freedom and the Life Issues" that may be helpful to you. I just read his book called the Five Pillars. It was also very good.

Renee Clayton said...

Matthew 6:25-34