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 (Manna 55: What Really Matters)
A Bundle of Love in Disguise
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A Bundle of Love in Disguise

Chalcedony

            For this issue we interviewed a sister who struggled with the idea of having a baby. Read about the lessons we can learn when life veers off our well-laid plans and well-thought-out ideas.

How did you feel when you discovered that you were expecting?

When I found out I was pregnant, I thought God was playing a trick on me. I did not want children, now or ever. I was perfectly content with life—I had just gotten married and my husband and I were happy. I was finishing up my master’s degree and had a job with good benefits. After we saved a bit of money, my husband would go to law school, become an attorney, and make a comfortable living.

Having children did not fit into the picture. I had actually talked to my husband before we were married about the possibility that I would never want children, and he was fine with it. So when I found out I was pregnant, I felt as if all my well-laid plans were ruined.

On one hand, I felt that I had brought this upon myself because I wasn’t more careful. On the other hand, I wondered why God didn’t prevent this from happening. I felt that if He really loved me, He wouldn’t have allowed this to happen to me, especially at this point in my life.

I had everything planned out, and it wasn’t as if I didn’t include God in my life. I prayed and asked Him for guidance in every decision I made. But He allowed something to happen to me that completely threw me off track, and I was no longer in control of my life and my plans.

Why didn’t you want children?

I did not want children for many reasons:

I feared that I would not be a good parent. Parenting is such a great responsibility, and I was not sure that I had the ability to raise godly children. It was hard enough to maintain my own faith; it would be even harder to teach a child to fear God and obey His commands with all the negative influences of the world. I had witnessed parents trying their best to raise their children in the Lord but, in my mind, failing. I worked with their teenagers who grew up in church but had no relationship with God. This just confirmed to me that parenting was a futile investment and an impossible task.

I felt that it was pointless to bring another human being into the world. According to my understanding of the Bible, the world was evil and full of sin, so why would I choose to bring another person into this world to suffer? And since the world was under the dominion of Satan, things would only get worse, not better. I felt justified in my decision because my reasoning was based on biblical principles.

I also thought that children were a hindrance to a happy marriage. Children required much time and energy, which meant that the couple would have less time for each other and their relationship would suffer. Having children would cause stress and arguments between the couple.

Last, I felt that it was too expensive to have children. We worked hard for our money, and it would all go toward the child if we had one. There were clothes and toys to buy, and later on, college tuition to pay.

It just didn’t make sense to me to have a child.

With all of these misgivings, what kept you going as the due date of your baby drew nearer?

When I found out that I was pregnant, it seemed to me that God was cruel because He knew all of my reasons for not wanting a child, and yet, here I was, pregnant. I was so depressed that I couldn’t even pray. The only reason I didn’t get an abortion was because of God’s command against committing murder.

I did not want the child even up to the month of her due date. Most women who have unexpected pregnancies usually warm up to the idea sometime during the pregnancy. But for me, this never happened.

I felt sorry for my unborn child because I did not love her as a parent should love her. On top of that, I questioned God, wondering why He gave me this child if I did not want her and could not be a good mother to her.

I had nine months to pray and think about these issues, and one conviction that kept me going was that God knew better than I did. I remembered the passage in Isaiah 55:8, 9, which says:

            “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

I just had to firmly believe that God, in His infinite wisdom, knew having a child was good for me, even though I could not see it.

Another belief I had to hold on to was that God loved me and that He would not do something to me to ruin my life.

An interesting thing happened to me before I found out I was pregnant. I had gone over to a friend’s house to do Pilates, and after I finished my session, her son gave me two drawings. On one picture, he had written that Jesus loved me and, on the other, that Jesus loved my husband. It was unusual because I usually took no interest in children whatsoever, and it was the first time that boy made a drawing for me. So, I took the pictures home to show my husband and said something along the lines of, “Isn’t this cute?”

A few hours later, I found out I was pregnant.

It struck me how this message, that Jesus loved me and my husband, came from a child.

So I thought a lot about God’s love for me, and it kept me going.

When my doctor confirmed my pregnancy and congratulated me, I actually began to cry uncontrollably, so she insisted that I see a psychologist. Throughout the nine months of pregnancy, she was persistent about getting me to see a psychologist. However, I didn’t go because I knew that God was the only one who could help me solve my issues and heal whatever was in my heart. I needed to take up my issues with Him personally.

I thought that God would help me resolve all of my issues before my baby was born, but He didn’t. Two weeks before the due date, I still was not at peace with having a baby. I prayed even more and asked God what exactly He wanted me to do. But it wasn’t until after she was born that I was able to learn the lessons God wanted me to learn.

What were the lessons that you learned through this process?

When my daughter was one week old and I was exhausted from being up all hours of the night, I remember asking my husband, “Is this a punishment from God?” During that time, I was eating a lot, nursing a lot, thinking a lot. I was still searching for answers.

Sometimes when I did have enough strength, I would kneel down and pray. Most of the time, though, I would talk with God in my heart. I would ask God questions and try to “hear” His answer to me. I think that through this process, God helped me.

I had to decide whether I should continue working or quit my job and take care of the baby. My mother was not around and my mother-in-law lived six hours away, so I didn’t have much help. I prayed and asked God what He wanted me to do, and I also asked the brothers and sisters at church to pray for me. After prayer, I felt that the right thing for me to do was to quit my job and stay at home, even though our finances would be tight. This was bizarre, considering the fact that I did not want this child and had always envisioned myself as a career woman.

After I made this decision, God really began to open my eyes and helped me see what He wanted me to learn. He helped me to resolve all of the issues I had about having children, which was exactly what I had asked of Him.

God’s Power

The first lesson, to put it simply, is to trust in God’s power and His love for us. I had feared that I would not be a good parent and would not be able to raise my child to be God-fearing. But I realized that we just have to do our best and put our trust in God because He loves our children, too. He created my child.

I went through nine months of pregnancy just eating and sleeping. I don’t know how, but this life was forming in me, and I wasn’t the one doing it. It was a miracle. When I first saw my baby, I was amazed at God’s creation.

I could really praise God because His physical work in me had created a miracle. God was helping me to see that every one of us is a creation of His and a miracle. Because He created my child, He loves her, and He will guide her if I do my job. In a way, He has entrusted my daughter to me. It is my responsibility to raise her, but at the same time I have God’s help and I can trust in Him.

I realized that my fear stemmed from not having enough faith in God’s power. I did not believe God would be able to bring up this child. I relied too much on myself, thinking that a child was raised on human effort alone, and, hence, there was no guarantee. But God was teaching me that if I put my faith in Him and did my best to teach my child about Him, He would take care of the rest. My child was also God’s child, and He would guide her the same way He guided me.

God’s Purpose

The world may be evil and dark, but it doesn’t mean that God is not at work in the world.

Although life may be difficult, God brought my daughter into our Christian family so that she could become a part of His people—the salt and light of the world. This was His plan, even if it wasn’t part of my plan.

I didn’t understand that it was God’s choice, not mine, to bring a person into this world. I mistakenly thought that it was my choice because I had conceived this baby. It was ironic how couples who really wanted children could not, whereas I did not want children yet conceived. This made me realize that God is the giver of life.

God’s Work

Originally, I had felt that it was too much work to raise a child, especially with no guarantee that the child would turn out okay. But now I understand that despite the amount of work involved, it is a job that God has given to me.

Before I had my daughter, I felt that I loved and served God through church work, which made my life meaningful. But having her brought new meaning to my life, because I now understand that raising my daughter is part of the work that God has given to me. Since God does not place intolerable burdens upon us, He must believe that I have the ability to carry out this work. And if He has given me this work, then He will give me the ability to do it.

God also made me see that having children is a very valuable tool for strengthening a couple’s bond. Rather than being the cause of stress and arguments, a child brings the husband and wife closer together.

There is no other work given to men that equals raising up one’s children. By working together on the “project,” it enables a couple to see more of each other’s weaknesses and strengths so that they can better support one another. After the work is done, the couple can enjoy the fruit of their labor together.

Raising a child is actually doing holy work, so it will be very rewarding because God’s work is never performed in vain. I do not need to be discouraged if my child does not meet my expectations; I just need to continue to put effort into this important work. Just like with church work, we need to do our part and not focus too much on the present situation because God is in control of the results.

God’s Providence

Initially, I thought there was no way that we would be able to afford all the things we would have to buy for the baby but God provided for us in miraculous ways.

My husband and I had just moved to a new area, so it was such a great surprise to me that so many brothers and sisters came to my baby shower. I was so touched by their love and generosity. They gave us everything we needed for the baby, and more.

After my daughter was born, other mothers would pass along to me clothes and other baby items they no longer needed. It turned out that my daughter had so many clothes we didn’t have to buy any. I joked to my mother that I had enough clothing for twins!

Through all of this, I knew that it was God showing His love for us through the love of the brothers and sisters. I remember during my pregnancy calculating how much we would have to spend on clothes and other necessities, but we actually spent very little money because almost everything was provided for us. Every time I look at my daughter’s things, I smile because I see God’s providence. I believe that if He has provided for us so far, He will do so in the future. I am reminded of Jesus’ words:

            “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” (Mt 6:26)

God’s Love

I did not have a close relationship with my parents, so it was hard for me to comprehend passages likening God’s love to a Father’s love. I could only understand this kind of love on a theoretical level.

However, through nursing my daughter, I gained insight into God’s love for us. When my daughter was born, I spent much time nursing and holding her, and I was reminded of Psalms 131:2, where David says,

            “But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me.”

Looking at my daughter, I began to understand the kind of contentment you experience in the bosom of God.

Another verse that touched me to tears was Isaiah 49:15:

            “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!”

It would be physically and emotionally impossible for me to forget my nursing baby. Yet, even if this impossible thing should happen, God would never forget us. This was such a strong message of God’s love that it brought me to tears. It had taken a great deal of time and conscious effort, but I had finally established a strong bond with my daughter and felt much love for her. Still, it was incredible that God’s love for me surpassed even the love I had for my baby.

I believe that this whole experience was God teaching me about His love for me. Before, there was no way anyone could have convinced me it was good to have children. But then God gave me a child of my own and opened my eyes.

Initially, I just observed my daughter. I neither loved her nor hated her—I just felt nothing toward her. I took care of her because she was my responsibility, but I saw how my husband really loved her. He would bring my daughter’s tiny face close to mine and say, “Give her a kiss!” My response would be to turn my head away because I knew that if I did kiss her, it wouldn’t be from my heart.

Little did I know that God was working. During those three to four months of “observation,” I saw the miracle of her growth and how she was a part of God’s amazing creation. I noticed her smile of contentment every time after she nursed. I was amazed that she responded to my care and that when she looked at me, she knew who I was.

The first time my husband and I went out for a “date night,” my daughter cried the whole time we were gone. When I came home and she heard my voice, she let out a loud wail but immediately stopped after I picked her up. I began to realize that she really did love me, and I began to love her in return.

I now see the parallels between my relationship with my daughter and my relationship with God, and this has helped me better understand God and my own spirituality. For example, I see her sheer happiness just by being with me. When I return to her after I am gone for a brief period, her whole face lights up and she runs to me for a big hug.

Her learning to walk and talk further strengthened our relationship because we could finally communicate with each other in definite terms (not just me trying to decipher her cries). Now, my daughter is two years old, and I see that she is becoming her own person. It has been a long journey, but God has transformed my heart. I not only love my daughter deeply but also genuinely enjoy being with her and spending my days with her.

In the same way, I can see how God would be pleased if we responded to His tremendous love by simply enjoying spending time with Him.

If you could describe this experience in one phrase, what would it be?

The lyrics from the praise song, “Trust His Heart,” encapsulate my process in overcoming my obstacles:

            God is too wise to be mistaken.

            God is too good to be unkind.

            So when you don’t understand,

            when you don’t see His plan,

            when you can’t trace His hand,

            trust His heart.

I learned that I just needed to trust God’s heart of love.

In the same way that I know more and see farther than my daughter, so God also knows more and sees farther than I do. God is in control, and He loves me, so there is no cause for me to worry. Even if something may not go according to my plans, I know that I don’t need to be depressed or lose hope. A situation that may seem awful to us may actually turn out to be a blessing. Although I suffered much during this process, it turned out to be beneficial to me because God corrected my misconceptions and brought me to a new understanding of Him.

 

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