catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 7, Num 17 :: 2008.09.26 — 2008.10.10


Out of control

I stopped taking my birth control pills last Sunday. It feels so grown-up to even write the words. My husband Grant and I have been going back-and-forth for months about when we should start a family. We’d decide to try to get pregnant one week, and then freak out and decide to wait the next week. On Sunday morning, I was about to take my pill and asked Grant if I should just skip it for a while, and he said, “Okay.”

And that was how we started trying to have a baby-or, more accurately, how we stopped trying not to have a baby.

Having a child, I know, will be one of the biggest and most life-altering decisions of our lives, but we just couldn’t seem to make a decision about when the right time would be for us to start our family. Over the last several months, we’ve asked anyone we meet who has children when he or she knew that it was time to start their family. The consensus from our very scientific polling was that you’re never really ready to have children. A child causes such drastic upheaval to your previously self-centered lives that there is no way to know when you’re truly prepared for it. At this point in the conversation, the freaking out would start.

Grant and I have been married for three years, and we dated for seven before that (but we met in high school and dated through college, he always reminds people!), so we feel like we’ve had a sufficient amount of quality time for the two of us. We brought home a puppy two years ago, and we tell ourselves that bringing a puppy into our lives was good practice for a bringing a child into our lives. We’ve saved fairly well; though our poll participants frequently reminded us that, if you wait to have children when you can afford it that you never will, so we try not to think about how much diapers and the baseball league and college will cost. We have family and friends close-by who will be ready and willing to help once a baby comes along.

On paper, it looks like we’re ready. Then why do I feel so unsure? Why do I feel nervous every morning about skipping a pill that I’ve carefully taken for several years now?

I’ve come to the realization that I’m scared to have control of this decision. In the past, couples didn’t have the 99.9 percent accuracy methods of birth control that the pill affords. They could plan their families to a certain extent, but the methods available to them were more susceptible to error than the ones we have available to us. Right now, in light of this huge decision in front of us, it feels to me like a little less control of the decision would be nice. It seems like the couples before the advent of the pill had to have more faith in God’s plan for their family than their own ability to plan out every detail. I know that God is in control of the situation and that He can work around silly little pills, but, in my limited experience in this arena, His plan has seemed to coincide with mine.

I’m spontaneous and impatient, so I tend not to be very good at listening for God’s still, small voice. I would rather just make the choice, whatever it may be, and get on with things. I pray and ask for God’s guidance, but I rarely see His hand or hear His voice until I look back on the situation, when I am then able to see His purposes more clearly. Grant is much better at listening than I am, so I’ve tried very hard to be more like him through this process. I’ve been doing less talking while I pray and more sitting in the quiet, trying to listen. In this quiet time, I am beginning to recognize that I want God to take this huge, life-altering decision out of my hands. I want Him to make it for me. I don’t want to take the responsibility of starting our family at the wrong time. I would prefer that God just finagled His way around the hormones and drugs and made us pregnant tomorrow or next year or whenever He knows will be the right time.

I am twenty-seven years old, and, these days, that is still considered that in-between time between adulthood and childhood. Society (and my boss) tells me that I should wait at least five more years, maybe ten, to start thinking about a family. In this in-between time when I do still feel like a child at times, God is teaching me through this decision that He won’t make my decision for me. I think He is also telling me that there isn’t a wrong decision to make, but that whatever choice Grant and I make will be the right one in His eyes. Like my earthly father, God is teaching what it means to be a grown-up-and what it means to be a parent.

He is empowering Grant and me to make this decision together, and He isn’t promising that things will work out as we have planned.  This empowerment is a heady feeling. I think, through this process, God has been teaching me how He is constantly empowering us. After all, we are his last, best plan to bring His kingdom come here on earth. He wants us to faithfully rely on Him to equip us to do the love and peace making work that He requires. In our little family, God is showing me that not only does He have faith in me to know when to start our family, but He has a far greater faith in me to be an integral part of His kingdom revolution. 

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