Thursday, March 1, 2012

Preparing for Family Expansion

Generally speaking, I dislike writing about things that would expose my lack of knowledge, wisdom, or comprehension of a topic- however, for the sake of conversation I'll scribble some of my thoughts out. Babies. If you've known me long enough you know that word isn't one of my favorites. If you really know me, you'd know that the only reason for my dislike is that the idea of having my own scares me to death. Over the last 18 months God has really been helping me overcome some of my mental hurdles- but one big one still remains: when?
Thanks to growing up when I did, I am a Google champ. I can throw down boolean operators and harness the power of search engines to find exactly what I'm looking for. It didn't take long to realize though that Google wasn't going to answer my question, "when is the right time to have a baby?" (yeah, I actually tried). Didn't find any promising book titles on Amazon either. The Scriptures don't lay out any specific plans.

Typical of an engineer, when no manuals exist the last resort is talking to people- surely someone has this tribal knowledge. Turns out, they do- and about as may opinions exist as there are babies born. In no particular order, here are some of the most common responses I've gotten so far in my quest:

  • "Planning? Good luck with that!" Life rarely works out the way we think it will so planning the birth of a child to line up in the perfect window of opportunity probably won't happen. In our calculated society we have a tendency to want to perfectly plan everything. If it isn't in Outlook, it isn't happening. I don't think there's anything inherently wrong about wanting to plan births so they don't end up half way through a deployment, during tax season for my CPA friends or trying to pick a more optimum time like summer break for the teacher types. The key is humility. Offer your plans up to the Lord- don't tell him how it's going to be. (James 4:13-17)
  • "Just let it happen." Can't say it's my position, but there are many in the faith that believe the choice is not ours to make at all. All throughout Scripture the Lord gives his people choices- he lets us choose our spouse, our friends, our occupation, where we live. He certainly isn't absent during these times of choosing but he allows us to make decisions. I can't make the mental leap that when it comes to the decision of when to have a child there is suddenly no more room for choice. 
  • "Set a reasonable milestone" My wife and I have heard quite a few people say to wait for "x" number of years after getting married to have a child. Or to have goals that you want to accomplish prior to putting the bun in the oven. I think there's wisdom in this. It would appear from my perspective that spending a few years getting to know the person you committed yourself to is a lot easier without little ones. Or reaching professional goals like finishing your education. A pitfall is often re-setting goals- it seems pretty obvious to me that life is a lot easier without kids, but in pushing back farther and farther you may miss out on the blessings and sanctification that God designs to come through raising children. On the flip side I know couples that got surprises early on in their marriages and wouldn't trade it for anything.
  • "Before you have one of your own consider all the children out there that don't have homes." This is a whole different can of worms and one my wife and I have seriously considered. Probably won't be what we go with on the first child but it's something we think is what God might be calling us to down the road. Adoption is a beautiful picture of what Christ has done for us- bringing us into his family as legitimate sons and daughters.
It seems like whenever I come to a crossroad of big decisions that will drastically alter the course of my life I always seem ill prepared to make these decisions. Eventually I'm reminded that while the end objective might be different, the process to get there is the same as it has been in other big choices. First and foremost, Angela and I need to rely on God for his wisdom in this. Next we need to be prepared for where that leads us. It is good to be reminded that even in the process of figuring all this out God's purpose still remains to make us more like his son. Lastly, all that's left to do is either act or wait according to his direction. 

Regardless of how it all turns out, I'm reassured knowing that God is sovereign- we may overcomplicate the details, but in the end he is the one that creates life, and that's a lot of weight off our shoulders. His ability to make things perfect is far better than our ability to mess things up. As God has been working in my heart I've realized I don't yet understand Psalm 127:3-5 but I trust it. 

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