Here we go again.
There is this thing about taking pregnancy tests that is so unforgettable. As a seasoned momma you sit there knowing. Knowing exactly what that test will say. Your body and your heart have already whispered it to you.
Maybe it's your third, or fifth. Maybe it's your twelfth with angel babies in the mix. Whatever number this baby is, you know the drill. You know exactly what to expect during the next nine months as your body stretches, adjusts, and changes. You know that inevitably you'll need to change bedrooms around, again, switch up carseats, maybe even purchase a new vehicle. Logically, you know that all children are a blessing, but right now this feels like a test that you'll probably fail. That's how I felt too when I unexpectedly found out we were pregnant with our sixth baby. We were so careful. We were done. But here we are again, and immediately I felt the shame that the world and our culture has heaped upon my shoulders. The early months that should be filled with joy and expectation are overcome with fear of judgment.
In my heart, I knew we would be okay. I knew that if God decided that we needed one more, then there is a plan and a purpose for this child. I knew that we are called to be obedient and say yes. You see, when you have a large family, "one more" doesn't scare you the way that it scares others who don't have this family size. I know that God will provide, that this child will be well fed, highly educated, and so deeply loved by us and it's incredible siblings. No. What scares me the most in this journey is the judgement, shame, and reactions of those around us who feel like their opinion should be considered during our family planning process.
Parents, friends, church members, and strangers all have an opinion. They have a reaction that covers large families like a rain cloud pouring condemnation. Because in our modern culture, children hold such little value. Careers, finances, Disney vacations, and even the environment all hold value higher than investing our time and resources into raising many children. Even the church has missed the importance of raising up the next generation of saints. For me, it is in the church the most that I feel the shame of raising a multitude of Godly children.
And as a mother of many children, when I get that positive test, my heart grieves. The world just doesn't understand the joy that will come with this baby. The world doesn't understand that I am raising world changers to bring truth and Jesus to the nations. That one by one we are tilling the soil on little souls, to one day be fierce servants of the most high God. I also understand, that what the world seems to miss, the church does as well.
While you might not realize it, when comments are made about needing new hobbies, how we'll pay for college, or the sigh that comes with "I could never do that." Our heart breaks a little more, and deeper we want to hide our blessing. Because your reactions to this new life matters. It matters to the momma, the daddy, it matters to the siblings who are watching and don't understand why it's so horrible to have another one of them. The Bible tells us that the tongue holds power of life and death. Just because our large family draws attention, doesn't mean we want, welcome, or receive the words that you are speaking over us.
I recently held a poll in our Natural Christian Momma's community asking for mothers of many littles to share comments that have been spoken to them when announcing another pregnancy or in general with many children. The comments are so disheartening. Imagine being the momma on the other end, hearing these words spoken over your unborn blessing. The child that has been entrusted in your hands by our Heavenly Father. Imagine these words being spoken of the baby being knit together in his mother's womb is Psalm 139:19.
You know how that happens right? The rhythm method doesn’t work you know. Are you trying to keep up with the Duggars? You are done now, right? You can't raise a family on love and Jesus... Please tell me you're getting fixed this time Still trying for that boy. You are going to regret that. You have one of both, no more for you. Starting a basketball team? You want how many?! Can you afford that? You must be hoping for a girl, what if you never get a girl? (We aren't hoping for a girl, and we don't mind if God gives us 17 boys!) If you have three boys you just need to stop.’ Due with my third boy in October. You should be seriously considering permanent birth control. You guys need to learn how to use the pullout method! When are you going to get that fixed? And if you won't your spouse should! Was it planned?! Does the state pay you to keep having kids or something? How much does your family make? You can't possibly afford them all. I can't handle my 1 toddler, you are crazy to have so many. (This is usually said in front of my kids-makes me sad.) You finally have a boy . You're done now right? Four kids is a good number but remember they turn into teenagers. Are they all from the same dad? We were also told if we had anymore that would be financially irresponsible. Haven’t you figured out how that happens...Reply...yes and we like it. You must be patient. I couldn't imagine having so many and being home with them all day homeschooling them!!! In a condescending voice you'd save lots of money if you keep having kids, there won't be any room for groceries. Are you really going to have more?! You know how sick you get. Awe, so are any of their dad's in the picture? (yup, I married him before our oldest was born!) But there has to be at least 1 that isn't his!!(pointing to the one they assume has to have another dad at the very least). How will you ever manage another one? You should be done now. Dont you HATE being pregnant? That should be enough to stop you from having more!! Your husband should learn to pull out. You guys really need to get a t.v. Your kids cost too much at Christmas. You’ve had four miscarriages. It might be a good idea to stop tempting fate. You DO know how to prevent that right? Knees together, girl. Each kid gets less and less. How unfair for this baby. Why don't y'all see how the others turn out before you have more. We even had a family member offer to fix my husband with garden scissors and then they laughed like it was the funniest thing. You are the reason why we have global warming, your carbon footprint is hugeeeee. Well at least you know how to do one thing good. Its unfortunate your kids will grow up without. I only had 1 kid so I could afford him. 4 girls? Is your husband not able to make boys?! Responsible people don't make a lot of babies Well I guess your showing your girls that all women do is make babies. Oh **!*!*! 4 girls?!? I'd kill myself. I would never wish to be in your shoes, better you than me!! Well it's not going to make it any easier on you.
Not to mention the disapproving looks, sighs, shaking of heads with snorts of chastisement.
Church, this needs to stop.
God is the author and authority on life. The church needs to stop belittling and bringing condemnation on those who have been called to parent many. Psalm 137:3 says, "Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward." These children aren't just the heritage of their parents. In fact, even more so these children are the heritage and future of the church. They are the children who are playing at the playground with the world. These are the children who are being raised as witnesses of the testament of Jesus Christ. We see the impact of raising Godly children in 2 Timothy 3:14-15 "But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus." Why then, church, do we shame those who do what God has called them to do.
Why then church, who rightfully preaches the sanctity of life, is so condemning on the believers whose wombs are open and willing. Where is the encouragement? Where is the support? Why does the church not REJOICE when God has given us another soul for His glory? We praise God when an unwed mother chooses life, why then do we scoff at a woman of faith who does the same?
Perhaps if we begin to value the children God is blessing large families with, on a whole it will change our attitudes all together. That little ones are not a burden to society, rather the future and our most valuable possession.
So next time you see that pregnant momma with four little ones trodding behind her, give her some love. Ask about her heart, ask her what she needs. Support those families who are growing the church one baby at a time.