Monday, July 7, 2014

marriage & prevention

Marriage & Prevention

I love the idea of doing this because just the act of sitting and quieting myself to think back on life during a certain season that we have been through allows me to see how far we have grown. I am going to share today about what Hedge and I chose to do before we were married and once we started our journey into marriage. I might get a little vulnerable and share a bit because its apart of the story.

By the time I met Hedge I was a few months shy of turning 20. I was passionate about ministry, discipleship, and missions. I was far from being interested in a dating relationship. I established boundaries for myself that I wouldn't date to just date, I wanted any pursuit of a relationship to be headed towards marriage. I didn't have close guy friends and I didn't go on dates. I was focused on my heart and certain that dating was years in my future. Everything turned upside down when my heart was awakened to love Hedge.

That time of dating had to be one of the the hardest seasons of my life... (next to infertility.) I can remember the constant wonder, the crazy emotions, the overwhelming thought-life, the desire to be in a fairytale love. I was cared for and loved by this man that had not kissed any other woman. I was smitten by his character and his heart for God. He trusted God and said I wasn't damaged goods. He chose to love me through my broken past. Months and months didn't have to pass before my heart was so ready for us to become one.

A few months after we began dating we had the "marriage to one another" talk one day on a long drive to visit his family (the summer we were living in West Texas). We talked about what our wedding day might look like, about our future children and us overall together for good. We both agreed we should be married for awhile before we would start our family. Hedge always wanted a brother and I always wanted a sister so we said that if we had a boy we wanted him to have a brother and if we had a girl we wanted her to have a sister (obviously its not that simple) but to us the kids talk was pretty easy. I had one sibling, and he had two. So we both liked the idea of having three of our own children and adopting our fourth child in the future. I had brown orphaned eyes branded on my heart from my first missions trip to Peru in 1999. He shocked me when he said he was all for adopting a child someday. Four children seemed like a very large family to me, then.

When we married, we were young. I mean seriously young! We had some great mentors in our life, that really spoke into our relationship. We were encouraged to be wise and to get established by spending time growing as a couple before we had any children. Almost every married couple we knew in our lives at that time was focused and passionate about doing ministry as a couple. It is what we saw modeled and it inspired us. It was what we were going to do, pour our lives into ministry and then someday in the future start our family. We really didn't give it much thought. I started birth control a few months before we got married.

When I became a christian, I learned that sex before marriage was bad. But not because it wasn't honoring God but because I could get a disease or even worse have a child.  I had sex before marriage as a young girl and hated it.  So here I was, in this beautiful God-honoring dating relationship where we kept ourselves from each other until the night we said "I Do".  I wasn't aware of all that I would walk through in those first few months of marriage because of my physical choices in my past. Hedge couldn't wait to jump in that horse buggy after our wedding reception and high tail it to the hotel. I began to have shortness of breath! I was so afraid of our relationship moving towards physical intimacy. Can I just tell you, Hedge couldn't have been more of a gentlemen to me and my very overwhelmed heart the night we were married.

We had a great first six weeks of marriage intimacy. Then something in me shifted, I was tired of constantly being wanted, I began to believe lies that I was being used and that sex was dirty. I began to dread intimacy. Poor Hedge got his first taste of caring for me as a crazy woman with a bunch of baggage and a lot of hurt. We walked through it all as I sought counsel and God met me, He began to teach me how to be loved by my husband. I had such a broken view of what God had always intended for intimacy for a husband and wife. <--------- God can and will bring healing and restoration to every area in your marriage that you give Him permission to.

About half way through our first year of marriage, we were visiting his family out of state. We had a niece and a nephew and they were both about 15 months old. Hedge was playing with them one afternoon, and as I watched him throw those kids in the air and chase them around I saw him as a father. I had a flash of watching him throw our future son up in the air. In that moment, my heart came alive.

I instantly felt this overwhelming joy that "We got to make people together" and I was suddenly moved by the idea of our generation that God would give us. That wonder began to turn to desire. Over the course of that trip, we started to talk about why we were preventing God from conception. I remember questioning if it was even OK for us to prevent God from blessing us with a child. We began to be practical and talk about our life and the path we were on. We were not waiting for something to be accomplished (school) or to move somewhere, or pay debt off, or get this item or that item before we started our family. We knew we were encouraged by godly voices in our life to let time pass and for us grow in our time together as a couple, but so many variables about our future, we believed were in God's hands.

Through our talk we agreed that we wanted to live our life by faith and trust God with any lives He would give us. We held each other that evening and prayed and said "God we want to give you permission to bless us with life in your time". We were 22 and 23 at the time. The desire for a baby wasn't more than a sweet thought at that time of prayer. It didn't take too many lady cycles to come and go for the excitement of a surprise pregnancy to turn into a deep desire and a longing that brought aching disappointment every month.

To a newly married or engaged couple:

I don't think (now) that there is anything wrong with prevention, I had to take a journey to land upon that belief. I spent many years believing it was wrong to prevent a life. But it's easy to feel that way when you are eager to start a family and its take time. I don't think that anymore for many reasons, but that's for another post. So to all the young couple's out there,  If you decide to prevent in the first few years of your marriage, go for it. Just check your heart motives as to why you do. My biggest encouragement is for you to search your heart, search the scriptures and look at what God says about children. Children are an idea until you become one. Then it becomes a generation, your generation. Children are a blessing from God and I don't mean a "thank you for this food" kind of blessing. I mean they are going to make your life more full, more filled with purpose, more vulnerable, more filled with fear, more of every emotion because they will show you more about your capacity to love, they will help you grow through the selfishness that is innate in every human.

Children will grow you. If you allow God to have permission with your life decisions especially this one. You will be amazed at how much He will teach you about His love for you, and others through a teensy 8 lb baby, or through a toddler gazing up at you in the morning smiling with their eyes because you are their source in life at that time. You will grow in ways you have never been able to without the surrender and trust in God as you allow Him to lead you into your parenting.

I can say first hand, that you don't have to finish school to have a child. If you are allowing God to lead your heart as a family and He gives you a life, don't be afraid of what culture says you should do. Stand strong in the face of that fear and trust that God is the ONLY author of life so that child is meant to be. No child is a mistake.

I have some dear friends that were dating and married in less than ten months. They were intentional about every single step of their journey. As they were preparing through their engagement they asked for prayer over her womb. I loved their faith, it shined so bright. They were not afraid of what others thought, they were excited about how God had designed family. I love that they knew God was the author of their every step, through every child they will bring into this world. I have been inspired by their faith.

Hedge and I have grown into this kind of faith. It has taken us years to step out and believe that God is the giver of life and with that He fully equips us to care for and nurture them. I am not the person I was when it was just Hedge and I. Every single life God has blessed us with has miraculously enlarged my capacity of love.

To those on the other side of childbearing:

You may feel your family is complete. That's a gift to feel that way. Treasure that peace. I know many mama's that question that certainty. to come to that decision, it will affect your future forever don't take it lightly. To decide something that weighted you must consider the Lord. I believe God nudges us in the direction that brings Him glory. No matter what your family plans are keep your heart open to His ways. Remember the truth of His goodness and stay in an attitude of willingness. I know that their are many God fearing people out there that say "one is enough for me" or "I have my two, I am done!

As a mother who wept through the first portion of her 5th child's pregnancy, can I encourage you as one who once didn't think I was capable? My encouragement to you is this... "In your certainty and contentment have you given God the permission to give you another?" If you have, then when you communicate with us mama's of a lot of kids, you don't have to compare and tell us "that we have more patience than you" It's ok to be different, just express how God has led you and that you trust Him. "Have you said "God, I am good with my story, but you are ultimately the author". Because Mama, whether you have one child or nineteen,  your ability and patience is no different than mine, it is God alone who makes us able.

Some day I will write about my experience with getting tubal. yes, I had a tubal-ligation. I didn't look at that choice as the only one I had. My heart was leaning towards it as an act of surrender and not act of fear or control. I was led down that road based on prayer, and direction with where God was taking our future. I know who God has knit me to be, and He knows my heart towards babies and my love for them. I had to give that over to Him. Getting my tubes tied was a choice I made only a year ago and I think about it so often. I say that not to say I regret my choice, I say it because with that decision came a removal of a season forever. He knows my heart and that, I will always be open to His plans. I know what makes a woman a mama doesn't strictly entail her body. 

So that's it for now, Take care friends enjoy a few deep breaths as you inhale today, it's a gift because its right where you are, whether you are joy filled or pain filled or just doubt filled. We are to love Him in our strength and our weakness. That means loving Him with all of who we are. He is good to move us through those places and into places of hope.

 May the peace of God rest on us Mama's who are moving out of the childbearing years.