Faith and Family Planning

I am not a blogger.

(Wow, the myriad of responses you folks are likely having.. “Well, duh!” Or, “Umm, this is a blog, right?”

My wife is a blogger. Good one, too.

She wrote this. Go read it. No, seriously, go read it; the rest of this won’t make sense otherwise.

Finished?

I get a kick out of reading her blog in part because I get to see what leads up to the posts, usually. And as I’ve said before, she is incredibly kind to me in that she doesn’t show people the nasty, oafish, moron that I often am. [That would be because he isn't.--ed.]

That’s my job, as you’ll see in the following:

I break my wife’s heart every time we find out we’re expecting, and it’s because of my lack of faith. Stay with me on this.

Here’s how it works: she finds out she’s pregnant. She tells me. I respond very, very badly.

Don’t misunderstand me. I have four going on five children, and I love them all dearly, I enjoy them being in my life, I’m proud of them, and I have not one single regret.

However, when she tells me, my first thought, God forgive me, is never, “Yay! Another one of these gorgeous little people, full of laughter and hugs, tears and ouchies, curiosity and questions, messes and mayhem, growth and surprise to brighten my life, grow my heart, hold my hand, and, one day, notice I’m gone.” I wish that were my first response; it is most certainly my last.

However, I am ashamed to admit, my first response has always been, “But what if…”

That trailing ellipsis contains all of my fear, my self doubt, and my lack of faith. All of it comes to a head at lightening speed, and the thing I can’t bring myself to say, except here, this one time, is “.. what if I fail them, the way my father failed me?”

The man who fathered me left when I was an infant. He was not a good person then, and his actions, despite my never even knowing him, have sent my life in the wrong direction so many times. I blamed myself for never having known him, and I allowed that guilt to seep into my life so deeply that I never believed I was able to succeed, and I fulfilled my own prophecy through inaction, laziness, regret. It destroyed my educational career, and I feel that it is purely the grace of a loving God that has put me into the position I’m in today.

My fear and doubt culminate in that one moment, and as I spin into scenarios of my children huddled around a trashcan fire, homeless and hungry because I have again failed myself, failed them, I see her face fall because she thinks that it’s her; that I don’t want another child, don’t want another life to shepherd, and at that moment, I’m incapable of telling her that I feel that this life she’s growing is the best thing I think we can do for this world; that we can make the world better by filling it with as good a group of people as we can shape; that I love her and this new life, and that I am proud of her.

I want to tell her these things, but all I can do is frown as that fear, that lack of faith in the love our God has for us grips me.

In my better moments, I can’t help but know better; didn’t I just tell you that it was God who put me where I am? That God that has intervened over and over again in my life; our lives, and made his patience and mercy known to us, over and over again? I am truly blessed, both in what I’ve been given, and how clearly He has shown his hand. Someday I’ll tell you about it.

Yet in this, I still struggle. And that brings me, finally around to how this has even the first thing to do with her post.

We have talked about this before, she and I. (You would kind of expect that, wouldn’t you? Despite random strangers comments to the contrary, I do know what causes these little people..)

I have tried to sit the fence; saying that God blessed us to be fruitful and multiply, sure, but did not say, “.. multiply as often as possible.” I wanted to believe that, you see, so that I could stop breaking her heart, stop being afraid, stop accepting the incredible blessing that God has seen fit to give me.

Silly, isn’t it?

Pray for me, folks. Let me remember, the next time she comes to me (if she does) with her eyes downcast, afraid of what I’m about to say, help me remember that in raising this new life, I will model the behavior of my Father, not my father, and that it is through his providence that my family will flourish, not mine. If I can do that, then at that one crucial, irretrievable moment, I can show her how much joy she and He give me.

I can’t tell you how much pain I’ve seen in the faces of some of the men I respect most in my life, who have come to me, tears in their eyes, and told tell me of the regret they feel for having mutilated themselves (sorry, proper name is vasectomy), and how much they wish they could undo it. Or about couples I have known, good, loving people, who could not have children of their own, and how much that inability cost them. I can’t tell you these things, and if you can’t understand them, can’t empathize, then I pray that you never do.

Do I really have to tell you what side of the fence I’m on?

This post is linked up at Holy Spirit-Led Homeschooling’s Big Family Friday.

Responses:

  1. Cindy! You have a good husband. I think his first reactions are only normal and understanding based on his past. God sees us through all and it warms my heart to see you two have such warming conversations. You have a beautiful family and a loving family that I can’t wait to spend time with this evening. I still have the regret of letting my wonderful husband have the V. :(

    • Oh, my friend. I keep praying that surgery failed miserably. <3 you!

  2. I love this! I think I might make my husband read it *wink* So heartfelt and honest. It doesn’t get any better than that.

    • That was kind of the point.

      The thing about all of those words is that while they’re true, I didn’t know that they were true before I said them. If I’d heard them from someone else sooner, I might have saved myself some bad times.

      Please, do pass it along.

  3. You made a good choice for the father of your children. I think he is a keeper.

  4. It’s exactly the opposite in our house, I’m the one who’s nervous and freaking out while my husband is dancing around with glee.

  5. Oh Jesse, those words made your Aunt so proud. Love you guys. Hope to see the newer additions some day.

    • Jeannie, hey! Thanks! So far, I’m not having to put any of the boys on restriction, but I know they’ll be following in my footsteps real soon ;-) !

  6. Just a note for you, when those men come to you heartsick over their choice of vasectomy, they are reversible. Vasectomy and Tubal Ligation Reversals are becoming more and. Ore common as those of us who made that decision are coming to the same heart choice about having blessings from the Lord.

    • There’s one friend in particular for whom that’s not an option due to complications, although you’re right; for most, there are options.

      Like the WOPPR finally figured out in WarGames though, the only winning move is not to play.

      • I don’t know what a WOPPR is, but I do have some friends whose husbands’ reversals didn’t work. They’re heartbroken. But many, many more are on their first and second reversal babies, so it’s very hopeful!

        • We are due with our fourth tubal reversal baby (in six years) March 28! We went to a wonderful doctor in Mexico. He does them as his ministry and keeps the cost down by practicing in Mexico. Also, he takes anyone unlike American practices that only take those with the best chances. They like to keep their success rates high, but the Mexican doctor wants to help everyone he can.

          • Congrats on your new baby! Saying a prayer for safe and easy delivery. :-)

  7. I am literally sobbing after reading this. I know that my own beloved husband struggled with the same doubts and fears, and reacted in much the same manner, every time I brought him the good news. It was painful. But since discovering that he can’t have any more because of prostate surgery, he blames himself and that is just as painful for me. I don’t know how to help him, except to pray that the Lord will give him peace and help both of us to find contentment in His will.

    • Mary Jo, you and your husband have been on my mind ever since you posted your comment; you’re both in my prayers as well.

      I can tell you from both sides of the experience of a spouse in pain that you’re already more help to him than you know, simply by being there, caring, loving, and listening.

      May God bless and heal you both.

    • Praying for you, Mary Jo. That’s so hard to deal with, I know. If this turned out to be our last, I’d feel pretty sad about it, too. Not that I’m not quite content with our family, but it’s the finality of it that would make it so hard. Your hubby certainly shouldn’t blame himself, though! It’s probably completely natural to feel that way, but it’s not deserved. That reminds me of some posts my friend Amy wrote about being content with the number of children God gives you–even if it’s the “wrong” number. http://www.raisingarrows.net/2012/02/four-years-ago/

      http://www.raisingarrows.net/2008/05/enjoying-your-quiverfull/

  8. OMgoodness, I too had tears reading this, because I (and I know my husband especially) can relate to this! This is so real, so honest, that I RARELY ever hear men (besides my wonderful husband), share this. It seems so many in the “quiverfull” community, seem to have this area of faith down pat! We are pregnant with our sixth blessing, and though the Lord is soooo working on our trust in this area, it’s refreshing to see we are not alone as we walk this path (and sometimes fall, and struggle with our doubts).
    Praise God He IS so patient with His children. And how blessed we truly all are, to enjoy these precious gifts he continues to bestow on us! Thank you for sharing, I know my husband will enjoy this too!

    • This is one of the reasons that I’m not entirely comfortable with the “quiverfull” folks. There’s so much misdirected emphasis on number of kids. What about the family that trusts God and gets no kids at all? What about people who never knew that this was a matter of trust, and had their tubes tied while they were still young? It’s unfair to them, and gives way to much credit to those of us who sort of stumbled into having a large family before the contraceptive culture could get to us, or those of us who get scared to death because of all the ifs. We all depend on the same God to bring us to our understanding of Him!

  9. Love this! Thanks for sharing!

    We too are the opposites – DH is overjoyed while I’m freaking out. I guess there’s one in every couple!!

  10. See..that’s why I love you guys…..you share the truth….and your lives…and the irony and humor and LOVE of it!

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