Never, in all my years of growing up, did I doubt I would get married and have children. It was a given. It was part of my dream, my goals, my plan. Despite my liberal and feminist upbringing — which emphasized career over “just” being a housewife — I wanted a family and I wanted to stay home to care for that family. And no matter what it took, I was going to have it.
And I do. I have three wonderful children, an amazing husband, two sweet dogs. I have a home filled with love and laughter, joy and hilarity. And though I’m no longer home full time, I still place caring for this family above any job I also hold elsewhere. For the past nine years, I’ve been beyond blessed by my dream of being a wife and mom fulfilled, and despite the emotionally hard days that come more often than I’d prefer, my life surpasses any plan I had devised and crafted as a young girl.
Yet, this doesn’t happen for everyone. And it never will.
While being a spouse and a parent is oft-described as the most blessed of vocations, the hard truth we face is these vocations aren’t for everyone. God promises us much in His Word — forgiveness of sins and life eternal with Him through Christ — but becoming a wife and mother is not among them. Blessed, yes. Guaranteed, no.
Lately I feel inundated with cries for raising future mothers and fathers, future spouses. While the secular world and government incentivize single-parenting and cohabitation, the Christian community responds by touting marriage and family, showing how these improve society, holding these vocations high in reverence as positions to be lauded and sought for, praised and prayed for. So we encourage people to get married (a good thing) and to have children (a blessed endeavor), and then we emphasize the importance of teaching these offspring to seek the same and chase after this dream of marriage and parenthood.
These are good things to encourage. We should hold marriage and parenthood as important and right. We should teach our children of the amazing blessing that is a spouse and kids. But we do them a great disservice if we aren’t 100% honest with them.
See, my son at the young age of 5 already dreams of having a wife and 100 children. He’s already named all of them. I smile and nod and listen to him rattle off the names. However cute this is, though, however much this causes my heart to swell and my face to don a stupid grin, I ask him if God promises those things. He shakes his head and says no.
Some may accuse me of squashing his dreams and failing to train him to be a loving husband or a firm father, someday. But the fact is, our kids — our son and our daughters — need to be raised in the true word of God, that word that says yes, a spouse and children are blessings– but not promises. They need to be raised in the word that points them not to an idolatry of family and self — one that finds its worth in marital status and fertility — but to Christ crucified for them.
And so yes, we raise them in God’s Word, preparing them for a life of serving one’s neighbors — whether they be a spouse and children or friends and congregant members. We raise them to seek an education, to learn a skill, to hone a trade, to work hard and trust in God, to do their own laundry and to cook their own meals. Okay, so we’re not quite raising them in all this quite yet — they’re not even in school. But, this is our goal.
They may one day find themselves as wives or a husband, mothers or a father. They may find themselves in those most blessed of vocations, and if so, all the emphasis we’ve put on simply just being productive members of society and community won’t be for nought. Nor will they be ill-prepared for their familial vocations. Because even if we don’t focus our daughters and sons on diaper changing, breastfeeding, sewing, gardening or babysitting doesn’t mean they will be utterly clueless and inept in their marriage or parenting.
For my prayer is they will have grown up observing their father and I in our marriage and parenthood. While we’re far from perfect, we serve each other as husband and wife knowing our young children watch our every move, hear how we speak and note how we treat each other. Beyond that I pray they abide in God’s Word which instructs them as husbands, wives and parents far better than my husband and I ever could.
The fact remains, too, that no amount of training can completely prepare them for serving in these vocations.
Yet we can prepare them for the possibility that these vocations won’t be theirs, reminding them their identity is not in a spouse or a child, but in our Lord and Savior alone. Encouraging them to trust in His Word, and not the world’s — even the supposedly Christian world — which offers empty promises and false hope. Instead we remember that our duty as parents is not to train them simply to be future spouses and parents, but to train them to just be. Just be in God’s Word — content in Him, His promises and His forgiveness.
And always remembering that if and when they become husbands, wives, moms and dads, they will not be alone in those vocations — for their God provides all they will need to live, love and serve.