Monday, April 1, 2013

The Problem with Telling People When To Marry & Have Children

I've come across some articles lately that I just have to respond to.

Timing Matters When Having Kids seems to encourage others to have children young -- when you're more fertile and have more energy. This is certainly something to keep in mind when making life-long decisions.

I married young. What are the rest of you waiting for? posits a valid point as well. In the article, Julia Shaw makes the case that, "Marriage wasn’t something we did after we’d grown up—it was how we have grown up and grown together." (I also realize that she never mentions God or the Bible or anything like that, and perhaps I shouldn't be grouping these two articles together.)

Anyway, great thoughts there, too. But here's why I'm upset.

I listened to similar advice when I was younger, and I have regretted it over and over. Getting married "young" (at 22) made college tougher, and then I was faced with new pressures regarding children.

I loved my husband then, and I still do. But we got married way too soon. When he asked, "Why wait?" I didn't have an answer.

I also didn't have an answer when I read an article similar to the one above about why women shouldn't wait long to have children because of health reasons. I bought the advice that I could always finish college later and re-start my career after our children were squared away.

Twenty years later, I know the answer to "why wait" -- it's because I'm worth waiting for.

If I could go back to that time and give myself an answer to repeat, I would say to him, "Darling. I know that you're anxious to get started with the rest of your life. I know we love each other so it doesn't seem to make sense to wait any longer...

"But, I'm going to wake up one day at 40 and wonder how in the world I got there -- how I went 18 years without finishing my degree because there was always one more thing or person who needed to come first before I finished what I'd begun. I'll keep telling myself that I can always go back and finish later until I finally realize that it's too late and I can't go back (time, finances, etc.).

"I'm going to look over the lean years in our marriage, when a man with a master's degree working as a full time pastor wasn't paid much more than beggar's wages, simply because his first two decades of experience were in another denomination, and wonder why we ever subjected ourselves to that. Why we had no other options.
"And some day I'm going to feel accusatory and like God doesn't care, even though deep down I know better. Even though I know, know, know I have life so much better than many and how dare I even think that.

"And truthfully... I'm going to know that there's no sense blaming God for something I brought upon myself. I listened to others instead of blocking them out and asking God what He would have me do and when."

I was an emotional wreck at the time. I was having a hard time thinking for myself. I wish people would have advised me to seek God and would have prayed with me, instead of advising me on what they would do based on practicalities.

 It doesn't matter if you've been married for 6 years or 60, what God has told you to do is not the same as what God is wanting others to do. Maybe God wants them to wait. Maybe God wants them to adopt.

I've learned that when others come to me for guidance, I advise them to seek God, and I let THAT be enough.