There is so much that begs to be written.
A couple of months ago, Faith conceived our third. It is odd how we look at childbearing as a decision these days, when in fact it is the act of preventing childbearing that is deliberate. The decision to leave it in God’s good hands wasn’t an easy one. We were settling in a nice routine. The kids were growing up and it made no logical sense to have a third child.
When you decide to have your first, it is a monumental step you’re embarking on. As a couple you get ready for this next step in your relationship and take the plunge. It is after that where you think of how lonely a single child must feel, and you have another. So if you are, where I was, with two children — a boy and a girl no less — there is very little impetus to have a third child.
But God didn’t leave us alone. Working at a government agency that looks into the decline of childbirths, it was hard not to be introspective. There are a myriad of reasons why people choose not to have children, but for me it came down to pretty selfish reasons. It was a matter of control, and not wanting to give that up. To be frank they aren’t even good reasons. The best moments Faith and I have had in our lives so far have had to do with our children. Their presence in our lives gave us such unspeakable joy, yet here we were, trained to look upon the bringing up of a child as a chore and a burden. It’s almost telling, how universally we speak constantly about the “cost of raising a child”, but so little about what paying the cost brings. Children are seen as a time sink and a sunk cost.
The psalmist writes “Children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed in the man who fills his quiver with them!” (Psalm 127:3-5).
It is amazing how short our memories are, and how quickly we cling to self-centeredness disguised as pragmatism. Faith and I were hesitant to even consider having another child. The costs seem so real and enduring, while the joys so fast and fleeting. Yet I know this: that on my deathbed, I will not begrudge my children the money I spent on them; I will regret the time I withheld. The smiles and laughter of my wife and my children will be the most precious things, the last things I reluctantly hold on to when the time comes for earthly existence to fade.
It took us a while, but we eventually surrendered our rights to “family planning”, at least for now. It wasn’t long before Faith conceived.
We were afraid of what it meant, but we rejoiced.
Almost exactly twenty years ago, Faith prepared to take her ‘O’ Levels. Needing help with her mathematics, she went to a tutor who took a personal interest in her, and things got creepy. I hung out with less than desirable company at that time, and the tutor happened to live in our neighbourhood. Nothing much happened, except that Faith and I grew closer and eventually became something of an item.
It has been a heck of a journey, and it wasn’t always smooth. There were times when the tectonic forces of growing up, finding our own identities as individuals, and staying together as a couple, seemed diametrically opposed and threatened to tear us apart. But I’m so very thankful to be her husband.
Even this afternoon as I looked upon her from afar, with Caleb sitting on her lap and both of them laughing, I realised how truly, truly blessed my life has been, to have been able to love so deeply without fear or apprehension. To rejoice in the wife and children of my youth.
A few hours ago, ultrasound scans of our third child revealed that there was no heartbeat to be heard. It was an oddly emotional moment. How do you grieve someone you never knew, or be nonchalant about the passing of someone you have spent so much time imagining life with? Part of you wants to cry, and part of you chides yourself for being silly because there never was anything to cry about. But there was. Is. Would have been.
It was only last night Faith and I read Isaiah 55,
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
All we can say is that this journey, though cut short in our eyes, was exactly the journey God had planned for us, that we might learn to differentiate the unimportant from the important, and learn to relinquish control and return unto God what is rightfully His.
There is so much that begs to be written, so many thoughts to be laid straight.