Saturday, June 02, 2012

Motherhood and God's Sovereignty

Sometimes, I don't realize how odd I am until I share the inner workings of my brain with other people. They kind of cock their head to the side and look at me, confused or bewildered at what I've just said. Or maybe they are trying to think of a polite way to point out that I am crazy.

As this pregnancy has progressed (I'm now almost 18 weeks along), I've left a few people with tilted heads as I explain my thoughts about motherhood and God's sovereignty. You see, for lots of reasons, I've thought a lot about how I would react if something went wrong. And while I can't be sure until I am in that situation, I know that God is sovereign.

Here is how that is playing out in my mind during my third pregnancy (and where the tilted head might come in)...

Because our family already has 2 daughters, many people have assumed that we are hoping for a boy. This question is mildly irritating when I think about what it implies about Mary (not having been a boy, she isn't good enough, so we are trying again to get that boy that eluded us during the last pregnancy), but I generally overlook it and let the inquisitor know that we truly don't have a preference, that God will give us a son or a daughter as He sees fit.

And until recently, I would have added, "I'll be happy so long as the baby is healthy."

Then, one day early in this pregnancy, as I started to say this out loud, I was stopped in my tracks. All of a sudden, I didn't feel right declaring that I'd "be happy so long as the baby is healthy."

What was I really saying about my God when I declared the gender didn't make a difference in my satisfaction with God, but that the baby's health did?

Go ahead. Tilt your heads. Most people do that at this point in the story. The first time I asked myself this question, I tilted my head too.

If I believe that God is sovereign over the gender of my child, how can I also not believe that He is sovereign over the health of my child? If he is sovereign over one thing, then He is sovereign over all things. I can't pick and choose what I will accept from God. He's an all or nothing kind of God.

Does this mean that I am hoping for a child who has disabilities or health problems? Heck no. Too many times, I have seen friends walk the halls of hospitals, cry over medication choices that aren't working, and give up any leisure time so they can care for their ill child. I'm far too selfish and lazy to make a choice to give myself over to that life on purpose. (As an aside, I do know some families that are specifically called to invite "special needs" children into their family, and they obey because God has given them a special measure of grace and patience for these children and their doctors. Yes, I'm talking about you Dorothy.)

Generally speaking, have you ever heard of the mother of a child with any type of disability who wishes their child hadn't been born at all? Yes, their road is hard, but every one I've ever met will declare, that, through the doctor's appointments, therapies, and surgeries, their child is still a blessing to them, that their child is worthy of all the love and affection a parent would lavish on any healthy child.

To their credit, I have some very good friends who "got it" as soon as I explained where I was coming from. And then, I felt as if I was on the right track when I met the mother of a baby who doesn't have tomorrow promised to him (none of us really do, but his medical condition makes it more obvious to his family). I hesitated to share my thoughts with her because I was afraid of diminishing the pain that she has experienced as she walked through this valley.

But, after I was done explaining the above, she affirmed that not only did she think I was right, but that people didn't realize it was painful to her to hear them say, "so long as the baby is healthy." In her eyes, it diminishes the value of her son to the world.

Ultimately, I want to be content in all circumstances and I want my words to accurately reflect what I believe about God's sovereignty and His role in my happiness.

For that reason, I declare that God is sovereign over both 
the gender and the health of my children. 

I would love to hear your thoughts on this matter. Even if you disagree with me or think my logic is flawed. But especially if you have walked the path of an unhealthy child.

PS - My declaration about God's sovereignty doesn't make it true, it is simply a declaration of truth. 

19 comments:

  1. I agree wholeheartedly!! When I was pregnant the 3rd time everyone assumed I wanted a boy. I was perfectly content with having 3 girls. When I found out I was having Andrew people would come up to me and say "I guess this means you are done having children". I was appalled that the sex of the baby determines how many children people have.

    When I was pregnant with Alyssa they thought she had down syndrome. The doctor had me meet with a genetic counselor about what my options were. I looked at them both like they had 2 heads. There was no options for us! Alyssa was completely healthy! I know if she had had DS God would have completely carried us and blessed us.

    Thanks for posting this!!!

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    1. You are not my only friend who was given a DS diagnosis only to find out that it was incorrect. Makes me sad to think of how many children will have been killed due to a similar situation. Of course, the idea that anyone would do this even if the test was always 100% accurate makes me sad too.

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  2. Jennifer, it is natural to pray for a healthy child. I wanted a girl when I was pregnant with Troy because I had lost two girls. However, God had other plans. When I found out Ron and I were to have a boy, I was disappointed. On Wednesday after Troy was born on Sunday, when the doctors told us he had a problem and needed to be sent to Tampa General Neonatal Unit I just prayed for him to be all right. God answered that prayer and we brought him home on Saturday. God is sovereign and he shows us that he is able and knows what we need better than we do. Troy was a joy to watch grow up. Troy knew though that we had wanted a girl and when he and Angie found out they were having a girl, he called to say, "Mom you got your wish!" We have loved Troy and we love her and Troy has been as close to Kassidy as we have been with her. As Pastor Mark says, "God knows stuff!"

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    1. I agree 100% that it is natural to pray for a healthy child.

      My point in writing this post is that, I feel convicted that I should not declare that I am okay with God's choice on gender and not His choice on health.

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  3. I am blessed to have 2 healthy children. I am also blessed to have my first baby in heaven, as well as Topher's twin. Even after losing our first child, the Lord led us in a path of not no testing. We DID do ultrasounds because my niece had just had just been born with kidney disease and we wanted to know what our situation might be, but we didn't do amnio, or any of the other blood testing that the doctors asked us to do. Even though I was of "advanced maternal age" I put my babies in God's hands. We not only didn't do extra testing, we didn't find out the gender of our unborn babies. In today's "NEED TO KNOW" society, people just didn't understand that at all.

    And DO NOT GET ME STARTED on people telling us we had the perfect family after Topher was born. All families are perfect, not just those with one girl and one boy. Especially those who didn't know that I was actually a mother of 4 children. They made me want to scream.

    I understand completely how you feel, and I know that God gives us what He feels we can handle. I know this as I live each day with grace.

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    1. I think my thoughts can perfectly apply to your own health as well, just as you pointed out in your comment.

      Did you see Ida's post about the guy at Starbucks?! That will get you pretty worked up. I think we are going to have a Mom Mob at our local Starbucks just to show him how well adjusted "large" families can be! :)

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  4. I think you are totally on target with this point of view, and I didn't tilt my head one bit. Don't get me wrong, sometimes you do make me tilt my head, but I am very much with you on this one. :)

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  5. I think you are very wise. I don't think it's wrong to pray for a healthy child, but neither do I think it's a personal right. So many people assumed the husband and I would feel angry because we opted to wait 5 years in China's NSN adoption line, only to find that Squirt DOES in fact have medical special needs. She's our daughter, for goodness sakes. While I don't believe God originally intended for Squirt to be adopted by us, I DO feel He worked to bring us together as a family - for very specific reasons - once she could no longer be with her biological family. Squirt - and ger special needs - have both blessed our family and challenged us as well. In so many ways, and all for our good.

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    1. Your comment is so valuable to me. Thank you for taking the time to share about Squirt, both here and on your own blog. I have learned so much from you in the last few years and I know that you influenced me as I was writing this post.

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  6. Good job - parenting is a journey that teaches us to rejoice over every good gift rather than constantly trying to only pick and choose the parts of life we want. You know I'm mamma to the masses and a way better person for having walked through life with each one.

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    1. I can imagine that some days it is hard to see it all as a "good gift," but you know that even the bad days with God are better than the best days without Him!

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  7. I LOVE this post, Jennifer! You are not crazy at all. I remember really wanting a baby girl when I was pregnant with Ben and being a little disappointed when we found out we were having a boy. Now, I can't imagine my life without Ben and I thank God every day for my sweet boy! If we are ever blessed with another pregnancy, I will join you in declaring that God is sovereign over the gender and health of our baby.

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    1. Your last sentence is such a blessing to me! I see how lucky Ben is to have you as a momma and know that if God does give you another they will be lucky too!

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  8. Even in poor health and death, God blessed me with Matthew, who changed the course of my life, and faith, forever. So I don't think you are crazy at all ;)

    But...people definitely think we are. I mean we have three girls and three boys, why in the heck am I pregnant, again?? LOL!!!

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    1. I think you are crazy, but it has nothing to do with having 7 children!

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  9. I love this post! And it gave me much to think about. "Special Needs" has a new place in my heart and although we adopted Emma knowing she was special needs medically....we came to see that both little ones have emotional special needs. I don't think you are crazy, I think you are someone who has a heart for all people and changing the way we say things is HUGE. Our words mean so much to other people....you are such a wonderful example for me. Praying for you and that sweet baby!!!

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    1. Given all of the positive feedback I've received, I'm starting to think it was the other people and not me. :)

      When I mentioned adoption, you were one of the families I was thinking about. I'd love to sit down with you for a long lunch some day!

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  10. Fantastic!!!!
    Thanks for sharing.

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