Q&A: Family Size & Living Out Challenging Personal Convictions?
Q: When I look into the future and imagine our vision for our family, I still feel at peace having as many children as God wills until we prayerfully feel that season of childbearing is over. But in the midst of it, this task seems too hard. I find myself searching for biblical motivations, but it’s hard because it’s a choice and full of Christian freedom. This is where my “I need to prove it to people” motivations come into play…when I start to doubt God’s plan for our family.
So my question is, how can we maintain firm convictions about issues that are based in gospel freedom? How can we not give way to the trials and suffering when we are in the midst of doing that which God calls us to do? How can we avoid this temptation to just stick to our guns for the sake of not looking like a failure? I want to hold fast to our plan for our family for the right reasons…but sometimes I have a hard time stacking them up after a difficult day with toddlers.
A: Thank you for your honesty… I think it is easy for us to let these kinds of motivations sneak into our “whys,” but it’s why I’ve in my own heart had to continually point myself back to the Word.
On the issue you bring up, here are some things that have helped me fuel my heart with the right sort of motivations:
- What does God’s word say about children?
- What does my husband say about our childbearing?
- Am I operating, as much as possible, out of a heart desire to please God and live right before Him, not in an attitude of earning righteousness, but out of a heart that desires to HEAR and FOLLOW my Good Shepherd?
- Am I viewing our children through the lens of eternity… investing in them? Considering ways to and nurture them in God’s ways? Loving them as I should? Being faithful to discipline them like I should?
Basically, I try to “keep my eyes on my own paper”… do you remember that saying from school?
I don’t want to look too closely at what Suzie-small-family-mom is doing/saying, or what Linda-large-family-mom is doing/saying.
I don’t want to “do it because THEY do,” nor do I want to do it “to prove them wrong.” I don’t want my convictions to be fueled by things outside of God’s Word & the authorities and wisdom-speakers He’s placed in my life.
So if Suzie or Linda says something that particularly resonates or supports what God is already doing or saying in my life, then I’ll embrace and listen to that… but I can’t let someone else’s GREAT job, or TERRIBLE job, at motherhood be what motivates me. I can’t let someone else’s stricter convictions, or someone else’s less strict convictions be what fuels my days. Know what I mean?
Those things might sharpen or clarify why I’m doing what I’m doing, in minor mid-course adjustment sort of ways, where Doug & I talk it through and come to a place of rest about a question that plagues us or a concern that’s raised in a new way, but it can’t be the foundation for why we do what we do.
FACING THE TRIALS THAT COME WITH LIVING OUT OUR CONVICTIONS
As far as facing trials, those are the times when I’ve found the sweetest fuel & food for my soul from the Word. I wish I could say I was as faithful and purposeful to mine God’s Word for preciousness in the “easy” times… but in those hard times and suffering, I’ve pored over passages like James, 1 Peter, Job, the Psalms, Lamentations, and more, prizing God’s faithfulness so very highly…
For me, too, especially in the early years, I found that I had to have God’s Word right in front of my face. Lots of index cards taped by light switches & over the stove. Fruits of the Spirit stapled to the ceiling. Verses doodled on a variety of surfaces… all keeping God’s Word and motivations in front of me OFTEN. Reminding me to “make the best use of the time because the days are evil” (Eph 5:16) and “if any of you lacks wisdom let him ask God who gives generously to all without reproach and it will be given him” (James 1:5) and “do not grow weary in well doing for at the right time, you will reap a harvest if you do not give up” (Gal 6:9) and more.
WHAT IT MEANS TO BE CONVICTED
One of the things I love about Romans 14… and I love so many things about it… but one of the things I love is that it tells us “each one should be fully convinced”… and this is what allows for peace in relationships in the Body. (NOTE: In Romans 14, those words “each one” are talking about two people who disagree on a gray area topic that seems to have religious implications or come from a place of personal conviction.)
Truly, though, by each of us coming to a place where we are no longer churning and needing to seek other people’s affirmation or feel badly about other people’s disagreement… THAT is the place when we have finally come to a conviction about something. We are at rest. We are no longer churning and anxious and stressed and worried about what people are thinking and wondering if they’re judging us, nor are we sitting around judging them, churning over THEIR choices, worried, stressed about everything they’re doing.
Instead, the picture of Romans 14 is that we’re fully convinced in our ability to do or not do that thing that is a gray area conviction, we’re standing in the light of our Savior, we’re able to walk in peace. We love our brother more than our rules. We don’t have to flaunt our freedom or brag about our strictness. We just get to live life at peace, and allow others to do so as well… all of us fully convinced, even if (like the examples in Romans 14) we’ve come to completely opposite points of view. And all the while our love is covering those differences and enabling us to serve one another, rather than viciously attack and despise one another (whether on the inside or on the outside).
Wow, that was just a soapbox, wasn’t it?
Anyway, for me that is the place where God has brought me, scripturally and convictionally, in regard to all of this about family size. I can live it and be at peace and still hang with the gal who’s had two and thinks their done, and be friends with the mom of twelve who feels convicted never to use any birth control ever, and love them both and not be churning on the inside when I’m around either one.
IN THE COMMENTS, PLEASE SHARE: What helps YOU stick to your own challenging personal convictions and not give in when things get tough?
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