60: The Fear of Parenting
Q: I read the section on your web page about losing your daughter. I am so very sorry that happened. My husband and I went through a frightening experience with the birth of our second child, and we deal with being fearful of another pregnancy and labor. How did you keep having kids?
A: We’ve had a pretty rough road at times. I remember how exciting it was when Kathleen got pregnant the first time. We immediately started dreaming and planning. We couldn’t help but tie our hearts to the little life that was growing inside my wife. Unfortunately, we lost that child to miscarriage at three months, and a part of each of our hearts was ripped out. Our second (before our first birth) and third miscarriages (after our first birth) were also difficult. Although we were more guarded in our hopes, there is still no way to completely protect yourself from having your heart broken. You’ve read the story of Brea, and you can imagine that losing a child at birth was absolutely heart wrenching.
I don’t want us to appear as some sort of birthing martyrs. We’ve been greatly blessed in our family. We have six living children, one on the way, and four in heaven. God has been good to us. We have friends that have been through some heart wrenching experiences and I don’t want to appear like we’re the epitome of suffering. We have many friends who have lost their unborn children, babies, and , and others who would give their right arms just to have one child. The trials of parents is a common theme throughout the Bible. A few of the more famous parents who faced such trials include: Sarai/Sarah, Hannah, Elizabeth, the Shunammite woman, and Jairus’ family.
Nevertheless, we have been through some pretty tough times. So how were we able to keep having children? Here are a few things we’ve learned over the years.
1) Take them one at a time.
We never started off planning to have 6, 7, 8, or 11 kids (depending on how you count). We started off by having 1 kid. When we had 1, we certainly didn’t have the faith for 6, but we did eventually have the faith for 2. Through pregnancy and the following year, we’ve been fairly convinced that each child is our last. Overtime we inevitably realized that God wanted us to have just one more kid. Over time, those “just one mores” have added up.
When wandering in the wilderness God gave the Israelites manna to eat. He did not give them a forty year supply up front. He only gave them enough for one day, and on Fridays He gave them enough for two days. In faith, they had to trust that God would provide as they sought Him on a daily basis.
Matthew 6:34 “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
2) Have faith in God’s love and control.
During our third pregnancy (after two miscarriages) we were overjoyed to hear the baby’s heartbeat because we had heard that the odds of miscarrying drop significantly after that point. Somehow though, it didn’t bring peace, because something could still go wrong. At what point were we safe? Birth? Five years old? Ten? Fifteen? There is no point at which we are guaranteed that everything is going to go according to our plans. We read a story once of a mom that went to deliver one baby and her others died in a house fire while she was at the hospital. Life can get ugly. However, it is important to remember that tragedy is not confined to birthing. It can happen in all areas of life. To avoid having more kids does not protect you from tragedy. This world is not heaven, and as such is very harsh at times. However, God is good and is in control. Nothing is going to happen to you that He cannot use for good. Our faith in His sovereignty (control) must outweigh our faith in our own ability to protect ourselves and shield ourselves from getting hurt in life.
In fear you could not have another child, or in fear you could have 10 more children, in case you were to lose the ones you have. Fear is not a good basis for decision making. You cannot protect your child from harm anymore than you can control the number of days of your own life. In faith, do the two of you believe that God wants you to have more children? If you answer that question correctly, you will be in the center of God’s will for your life. That does not guarantee an easy life that is free from pain, but it is undoubtedly the best place to be.
Proverbs 3:25-26 Have no fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked, for the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being snared.
Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.
Psalms 139:16 Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
3) Faith must overcome fear.
Fear is natural. Following the loss of Brea, we were too fearful to go through routine delivery again. It would have given both of us heart attacks. When Kath went in for her c-section, the surgeon couldn’t get started because she was shaking so severely that he couldn’t start an incision. Even now, she says that everyday she fears that something will happen to the kids when she is in the shower. I fear that we might wreck the van, that the kids could get abducted, and that a little one could fall in the toilet and drown.
Fear is not the issue—faith is. Is your faith strong enough to trust God through whatever he calls you to do? If my wife never takes a shower because of her fears, that is not a demonstration of faith. If we never take the kids in the van, don’t let them play outside, or don’t let them near toilets, fear is getting the better of us. In faith you must walk the path that God sets before you. If He wants you to have more children, then do that, and do it fully convinced that God is leading your husband and you down a good path. Don’t worry about the what ifs. Whichever way God leads you, you are still likely to have some fears. But your faith must conquer your fears.
In the Bible Gideon is known as a mighty warrior. Yet he needed continual reassurances from God (Judges 7 & 8). God engulfed a sacrifice in flames for him, made the fleece wet, and made the fleece dry. Then he said to Gideon, “If you are afraid to attack, go down to the camp with your servant Purah and listen to what they are saying,” and there Gideon was given another sign. After five promises from God and five miraculous signs, Gideon was finally brave enough to attack. I imagine he still had fears, but those fears were overcome by his faith. In spite of his lack of courage throughout the event, God calls Gideon a man of faith (Hebrews 11:32).
In the same way, as you push through your fears in faith, God will bless and strengthen you.
I wish I had an easier answer to give, but it’s a wrestle of faith. Keep pursuing God for wisdom, and following Him in faith as He leads.