Wednesday, June 08, 2005

My Desire vs. God's Will

Recently I visited another blog and took part in a discussion of family planning. The discussion was over the choice of whether or not to have children and why people believe what they do about birth control. For the most part, the participants did not believe in the use of birth control (and some believe to use it is a sin). The overwhelming opinion of the discussion was that the bible says that children are a blessing and that married people are to be fruitful and multiply and that God is ultimately the decision maker on who should and should not have children and when and how many children a couple will have.

Now leave it to me to have a different opinion. Neither Husband nor I have any desire to have any children. In my discussion I came to the conclusion that maybe God has no use for us to have any, and if God wanted us to have children, he would give us that desire. I also said that after prayerfully considering God's will for my life and am completely at peace with my decision not to have children. Therefore, I see the decision to use birth control just as much an act of faith as the decision for others not to use it.

Today I was listening to the radio and heard a verse that I have read many times before, Philippians 2.12-13: “[ . . . ] continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,  for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” God works in me to will (or desire) and to act according to his good purpose. That pretty much confirmed for me the argument that I had been making. I think that most of the time, when God wants me to do something, he’ll put that desire in my heart. Here’s an example: (Bear with me, this story really does have a point.) When I was in college, I decided to major in English. I just liked the subject and enjoyed putting my thoughts down on paper. (I even like writing research papers—weird, I know!) Now, I didn’t pray about the decision to change my major; I just had a desire to study English, so I did. However, I thought, “What am I going to do with a degree in English if I don’t teach it?” so I enrolled in education classes so that I could get my license to teach high school English. I took the first class in the series, and really learned a lot. Then I began the second class in the series, and for some reason, I just didn’t have the desire to continue. It wasn’t that teaching didn’t seem attractive, but I just didn’t want to continue taking those classes. So I decided to drop the class (again without praying about it), and as soon as I did—I mean, at the moment I handed in the paperwork—I felt a real sense of peace about the situation. I’ll spare you any more details of how I actually did become a teacher, but the main point here is that I had a desire, and I acted on it. Maybe some will say that I should have spent time in prayer over the decision, but I think that this is just how God works with me.

I believe that we as humans have diverse wants and desires for a reason. We aren’t all meant to do the same types of work—our personalities aren’t all suited for the same types of things. God made us individuals with individual thought processes and individual personalities for a reason. He speaks to us in different ways. He has a path for everybody, and not everybody is meant to go down the same path. What is right for one person is not necessarily what is right for another. And the way I make decisions about things may not seem right to some, but it seems right for me.

I hope I haven’t rambled too much here, but this makes sense to me. What are your thoughts?


Tony Arnold said...

For a long time in my married life, I did not have a desire to have children. I also felt a responsibility to not have children when I felt this way. I was concerned about what kind of parent I would be if I had children for any other reason than the purity that I wanted a child. I still feel it would be irresponsible to have a child because: I think the Bible tells me I should; everyone else is having them; or any other peer pressure type of reason.

Later in my life, my desire slowly changed until I became overwhelmed with wanting to be a father. I now have a beautiful gift from God that has changed my life in positive way. I cannot imagine not having her in my life.

But I don't regret my earlier decision. In fact, my situation has just convinced me those feelings were correct and from God. I had a child in His time.

My point is take comfort in your choice and continue to seek God's will. And, ignore pressure from other sources. Your choice isn't some stake in the ground that can't change sometime later, although it may not. You, your husband, and God are the only ones that should have any say in the matter.


Jana said...

I sure don't think you're rambling. I actually really needed to read this post this morning. I used to want a whole passel of kids, but now that I have one, I'm not so sure. And it has nothing to with the baby. He's easy.
Well, I could go on and on about this, but I don't want to take up your entire blog trying to counsel myself! But I do want you to know that you words are really resonating with me!

JMG said...

Tony, thanks for the comments. Your experience seems to confirm my own thoughts about it.

Jana, I can imagine that many parents struggle with whether or not to have more children. You just have to do what's right for your family. Thanks for stopping by!

Clarissa said...

For heavens' sake, if any couple doesn't want children, they shouldn't have them! It's hard enough to care for them when you DID want and plan for them. I can't imagine how difficult it would be if you DIDN'T want them!! God created common sense and allowed the development of modern medicine ... and I like this line of yours: "What is right for one person is not necessarily what is right for another." Exactly. If God had wanted us to act like clones he wouldn't have given us free will.

Now, me? I wanted them. A lot of them. But that's JUST ME. Just because I have 4 doesn't mean I think everyone else should, too. God (I believe) planted that seed of wanting a large family from a very young age -- I've always, always wanted that, from childhood, always planned it, always dreamed of it. And it's still almost unbearably hard, even with those desires having been present.

Anyway, you make a lot of sense to me.

jettybetty said...

I think the Holy Spirit does lead us (even when we don't pray). Parenting is such a personal decision. I actually believe that spiritual parenting is very important. As a college prof perhaps God can use you in ways to impact your students--or there may be many other ways I don't even know about that God can use you.

As long as you are walking with Jesus--I think he will lead you where he wants you--with or without children.