"How are you feeling? Do you need anything?"
These are the responses you often receive when you announce your first, or maybe even your second, pregnancy.
After that, they progress into much darker things like:
"Are they ALL yours?"
"Better you than me!"
"You guys need to get TV!"
"You know what causes that, right?"
[TOTAL side note here....I know this sounds like it would be a funny thing to say. But to the receiver, you're really saying, "Are you SO dumb that you haven't figured out how to quit having children? Because only people THAT dumb would keep having them."
We don't happen to share that sentiment.]
Among looks of shock or even disgust, the (great) grand multipara (mother of many!) listens as before her ears, a celebration goes unheard on earth, and the temptation towards discouragement sets in.
So much so, that for baby number seven, you think....
Maybe we shouldn't tell our family just yet.
Maybe we shouldn't tell work....
Or even worse.
Maybe we shouldn't tell people at church.
I told Ben that it's so hard. When a person, or family recognizes God's call in their life to go to the mission field, they stand before the church and receive prayer. They are sent out and anointed for the task. They send out support letters and get people to pray for them and receive updates. And when they become discouraged, or sick, weary, or overwhelmed.... They can share that and receive prayer and encouragement!!!
But we, having received God's call on our life....we are sort of "on our own." And let's be honest-our "call" is much more vague. Ben and I cannot yet say "We are going to have as many children as God gives us, and never prevent pregnancy in any way." I don't know if we can't say that because we dont have the faith, or because we are just in the thick of it, prayerfully asking God about one child at a time.
And when it becomes difficult, or we are weary, sick, or (heaven forbid!) overwhelmed!!! We are treated with little sympathy because after all, "we did this to ourselves." We were "irresponsible".
This is so sad! For anyone who has children, they know that it is HARD work. I would be the first to say that. God's calling on my life has been harder than I ever imagined. But it has also been deeper, richer, and more fulfilling than I ever imagined. It is not a human thought to take that kind of hard work, and multiply it many times over. No, friends, it is a supernatural thought. It is a supernatural work, to give your life for these precious ones, whether there are two or twelve. It is not irresponsibility that has brought us to this place, rather it is the on-my-knees submission to the calling that Ben and I have received from God, have been empowered by Him for, and with fear and trembling....we accept it with joy. (Most of the time!)
Because.... Here's the "real" part. I am human. I am not divine, even though my calling is. I get it wrong. I feel like I will throw up if I even move or breathe sometimes when I am pregnant, and then I walk into a bathroom with poop smeared all over a toddler's back and shirt because he was wiping himself.
I get tired. Bone tired. Fall on my bed, can't even change into pajamas tired.
I get weary. I lose sight of discipleship and hearts and things get so blurry that all I can see is that little people are fighting and making messes.
I waiver. In the midst of kids going crazy because mom is sick on the couch, I doubt everything. I wonder how in the world we could possibly add more? And I forget about the sovereignty of the very God who entrusted us with this precious, eternal person.
Anyway. You get the point. All this to say: we are missionaries. We didn't send out support letters, and we didn't ask for financial support. We didn't get on a plane and travel far to a village.
We are the village. But we do need your support. We need your kind and encouraging words. We need you to pray for us and send us out, because sometimes our village gets sick. Sometimes there is a spirit of dissension or, even worse at times, a spirit of sleeplessness. Sometimes we need to be reminded that this great calling is a heavenly one....that God has called us to make disciples in this village.
And as my dear husband affirmed: we are to have faith in the calling we have received. We are to bear with grace, the comments and attitudes of those who do not support this calling. And we are to be ever living for an Audience of One. Because even when the earthly celebration goes unheard....all heaven is rejoicing with us as we eagerly await baby number seven.
And personally, I want to thank and affirm those women, who have chosen to join me in seeing this as a heavenly calling. Those women who have prayed with me and cried with me and rejoiced with me. I don't care if you are a mom with one child or many. When we choose to support one another in our God-given callings rather than despise or reject another's calling, then we become that much closer to the beautiful picture God gives of being built up together into a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
And just to lay the myth to rest, just because this is our family's calling, does not mean that I think it is yours as well. If you share a glass of water, or tea, or coffee with me, it does not mean that you will have a large family too. :-)