There is a lot out there to suggest we live in a society that is hostile to children. Child-free restaurants and flights. Travel companies for people who want to vacation to places where there are no children. All the Duggar hating. And, certainly worst of all, over the last 40 years millions of children have been conceived, have lived for a few weeks or months in the comfort of the womb, and have then been killed at the hands of those who are meant to protect them above all else–their mommas, their often scared, desperate, hopeless mommas.
With all that anecdotal evidence, you’d be justified in sensing an air of hostility toward the littlest among us. However, over the past few months, I’ve had strangers engage me in ways that would suggest the contrary.
Back in September when Charles, Natalie, and I were traveling home from North Carolina, an older man in a nice blazer struck up a conversation while we were waiting to board. After I told him Natalie was 6 months old, he said, “Well, it’s about time for another one, right?” I was not ready for another one at that point, so I took his comment as a joke. But then in all seriousness, this stranger told me that the single biggest regret in his life is that he only had two children. His wife had wanted more, but he was too worried about finances to grow their family. “Turns out, we could have raised and educated ten kids!” he told me. “Have another one.”
And just a few days ago, as I was packing Natalie into her car seat after a jog along the greenway, another older gentleman parked and got out of his car to take a walk. “Looks like you’ll have the place to yourself!” I said as I finished tightening up Natalie’s straps. We chit-chatted a bit, and over the course of a few minutes he told me about his two children and four sweet grandchildren. “The sleep you’re losing now is more than made up for in joy for the rest of your life. Children are the greatest gift anyone could be given.” I thanked him for his encouragement as he tuned to hit the trail. “Don’t stop now! Have some more!” he called out, as we parted ways.
Children are noisy. They have sticky hands. They’ll embarrass you in the grocery store. You’ll never go out to a nice dinner again. You’ll never get to be spontaneous. They’re just too much work.
These are the messages that are often pushed on us. This is why there are so many shrill voices out there demanding tax payer-provided birth control. This is why 3,000 abortions are carried out every day. But it’s not the whole story.
Of course children are a huge commitment and parenting takes everything you’ve got to give. But these two strangers, along with the people in my life who have heroically chosen to be open to children no matter the cost, remind me that it is all worth it. We are called, like Christ, to carry our cross and to die for the good of others. In sacrificing for our spouse and children, we are able to break free from the hell of selfishness and to embrace a life of love.
John 12:24 –
Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.
Edit: After re-reading this post and reader Annie’s comment below, I find it necessary to acknowledge the fact that there are some pregnant women who are truly destitute and absolutely cannot afford to raise the child they are carrying. It is certainly not enough to tell those women, “Oh, you’ll get through it! Don’t worry!” That’s exactly what we are told not to do in James 2:15-16. We are our brother’s keeper, and we must help the poor and needy. I am all for charities that help women in crisis pregnancies and for passing laws that better protect pregnant women’s rights to employment. However, nothing justifies taking innocent life, no matter how dire a pregnant mother’s circumstances. My point here was mainly to encourage anyone who hears the message of “Children require too much of us” and to counter it with the encouragement I’ve received lately–the message of “Children do require much of us, but they are worth all of it.”