When we go out in public, we attract a lot of attention these days.
We're hardly the Duggars, but it's not that common to see families with three small children under four. We must look like a variety show. And as I remember from childhood in my own family, people have this inexplicable urge to stop us for two reasons:
1.) To tell us how beautiful our children are; and
2.) To then tell us how much we're going to regret having them when they're older
Part of me thinks this might just be Human nature. If you see someone with something good, you have to bring them down a notch or two. Instill some fear into those smiling faces. Let 'em know it's not all fun and games down the road. You're going to have THREE WEDDINGS to pay for, you realize. And college. And braces. And heaven help you, those girls are going to start dating at 15 and you can't stop them. Got your shotgun ready, Dad?
Well, no. To be honest, I haven't even thought about weddings. Boyfriends aren't concerning, I'm not sure college has anything to offer our girls they can't get at better quality somewhere else. At the moment I'm mostly concerned with making sure everyone has shoes on the right feet and is sitting peacefully in the cart without falling out while standing to get a better look at something. The future is certainly there, definitely needs planning for, but is it really so bleak?
I wonder if this has always been the way older parents spoke to younger ones. "Wow Noah, nice boys...just wait till they're older and they're not so interested in helping you with this whole ark project..."
Or is this general discouragement about children a product of our selfish, greedy society? All the tools parents and children ever had to live with and enjoy each other are being systematically stripped away - parents can't discipline their children, children can't respect their parents, etc., etc. It's a bleak outlook for most young families, the future most likely being one in which children and parents drive each other crazy, institutionalizing each other in turn in bizarre imitation of the circle of life until the parents die and the children are left struggling with their own offspring.
One older father from Lebanon told us last week, "Yeah, I was one of ten, but in this country you can't have children like that. They want too many expensive things. You just can't afford big families. I took my son to get new shoes and he wanted to get a pair for $176 and we compromised on $150. No way he'd live like I did wearing my older brother's clothes. Three children is enough, believe me."
It wasn't the right time to tell him we'll have four by November, if God is willing.
I'm reminded almost daily about a seemingly small, maybe insignificant to most, promise contained in the words of Gabriel to the incredulous Zachariah concerning the imminent arrival of Elijah, aka John the Baptist: "He will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to the fathers."
It's a recall of the prophecy given to Malachi: 5“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. 6And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.”c (Malachi 4:5-6)
This is a stunning prophecy. It's even more amazing in light of the common relationship between parents and children today. We don't have each others' hearts. We're separated right from birth (it's frequently advised that young mothers leave their infants with others frequently so the kids can "get used to it") and everything about our world teaches the separation is good, wise and necessary. Children have to make their own way. Parents need to focus on their lives apart from the children because when the children leave the parents need to have some other life to fall back on. No matter how much we love each other, we were born to be separated and that's just how it is.
That's apparently not quite the way it's supposed to work in the Kingdom of Heaven. The outlook isn't supposed to be bleak. We're supposed to be able to be together in heart if not always in body. We're not supposed to be a burden on each other. I am overwhelmingly grateful to the rare few who come up to us and say, "Beautiful children. You've been very blessed" with no caveats, no warnings of a grim future, no dire predictions of how much we're going to suffer at our childrens' hands.
Boy, if there were ever a promise to cling to...this one about the Kingdom being a place where the hearts of children and fathers are turned toward each other is high on the list.
Wife of Benjamin and mother to two wonderful little girls who are getting bigger every day. Enjoys writing down thoughts and discussions we are having within the family and sharing them with whoever is interested in reading.
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