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Category Archives: Miscellaneous

Redeemed

Dear God, I was in church last night and the deacon preached about being redeemed. It made me think that I’ve never really thought about that word. It’s definition, I mean. Here’s what I found on Merriam-Webster Dictionary:


1a: 
to buy back REPURCHASE

b: to get or win back

2: to free from what distresses or harms: such as

a: to free from captivity by payment of ransom

b: to extricate from or help to overcome something detrimental

c: to release from blame or debt CLEAR

d: to free from the consequences of sin

It made me think about the children’s storybook, Corduroy.

In it, a stuffed bear sits on a shelf, awaiting someone to purchase him. A little girl sees him and wants him, but her mother says no, pointing out that Corduroy is flawed. His overalls are missing a button. After they left, Corduroy does his best to find his button so that he will be worthy of purchase, but it doesn’t work out. The next day, the girl returns and tells Corduroy that she counted her money and she asked her mother if she could buy (redeem) him. After she took him home she sewed a button on his overalls saying, “I like you the way you are, but you’ll be more comfortable with your shoulder strap fastened.”

We read that book to our kids and, at one point, we were walking our own little girl through a PetSmart and she saw a stuffed Doberman with a missing eye. We tried to show her a similar one with both eyes, but she wanted the flawed one. Of course, we bought it for her and named him Corduroy. I can still picture our two-year-old daughter sitting in her stroller, holding a stuffed Doberman as big as she was. Our daughter is grown and gone now, but that toy is still in our home. I’ve told it that as long as I have a home it has a home. It might be a little silly, but I’ve always loved what that “dog” represents.

So I thought of all of this yesterday when the deacon started talking about Jesus redeeming us. Redeeming is what someone does when they pawn something and then go back for it. Redeemed is what someone does when it claims something (I redeemed a lottery ticket). I redeem my luggage when I claim it at the baggage claim. Something is sitting there waiting for its redemption. It’s lost all of its own agency and any power it has over the situation. It needs redeemed.

So here I am. A flawed bear, sitting on a shelf wondering if anyone can love the flawed person I am. I am that Doberman waiting for a little girl to claim me. And there you are. You knew I needed redeemed, but you had to come and do it yourself. And you love me the way I am, but you also know I’ll be more “comfortable” if you help me deal with some of my flaws.

All any of us have, really, is hope. We have the hope that Jesus gives us if we will recognize it. Jesus takes us off of that shelf, loves us the way we are and then gives us what we need to be complete. He redeems us. I am sorry he had to pay such a high price for my redemption. I am sorry I am not what I would consider to be worthy of the redemption. But I am grateful that you think I am worthy and that you have redeemed me. Thank you.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
 

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The Gift of Pain

“[Dr. Paul Brand] was the one, really, who established that [leprosy], which is the oldest recorded disease, and a greatly feared disease. When you say leprosy people think of movies they’ve seen where patients are missing fingers and maybe even a whole hand, amputations, they are blind. And all of those are common manifestations of the disease. But Dr. Brand proved decisively that all of that abuse came simply because those with leprosy lacked pain. So they lacked that warning system that keeps you from reaching your hand into a fire, that forces you to blink every few seconds. And if you just keep your eyes open all day long, forcing them to stay open, they’ll eventually dry out and you’ll go blind. So millions of leprosy patients have gone blind simply because they don’t blink anymore. They lack the signal that says, ‘Blink, blink.’

“And he was the first person I met who said, ‘Thank God for pain. If I had one gift to give to my leprosy patients it would be the gift of pain. And I had spent my life trying to figure out suffering. I couldn’t think of anything good about it. I read lot of books on the problem of pain, the problem of suffering, but never one called, ‘The Gift of Pain.’ And ultimately, the two of us together ended up writing one. And it shifted my focus from, ‘Why do these things happen?’ Which I don’t think the Bible gives us much wisdom about. Job wanted that wisdom very badly, and he never got it from God. God just said, ‘No, that’s not your job. That’s my job. Your job is, ‘Now that they have happened, what are you going to do about it? How are you going to respond? Are you going to trust me or reject me? Is there something redemptive that can come out of this suffering?”

Dr. Philip Yancey – The Holy Post Podcast, Episode 476. 9/29/2021. Time Stamp 1:13:40

Dear God, I heard this podcast a few days ago, and I’ve been noodling with it in my head ever since. In fact, I probably let it distract me from actually spending much time simply worshipping you. I used my thinking time as a substitute for worship. I’m sorry about that. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth my time. It’s an interesting concept.

So what would the world look like if there were no pain? I suppose it would be easier to ask what my own life would be like if there were no pain. Prosperity gospel preachers would tell me, I think, that no pain is the goal for life. If we are doing it right with you then you will eliminate my pain. You will make it all sunshine and roses. I recently spoke with a woman whose husband died a few years ago. He had a terminal illness with almost no hope for survival. Yet, she expected him to be healed until the moment he died. She still carries the pain of his loss. She still carries, I believe, some anger towards you for letting her down.

As for me, I’ve certainly been disappointed with you over the years. I’ve had things happen, especially with my children, that have caused me tremendous pain. How could you let this happen? Wasn’t I supposed to get some amount of protection from these bad things if I prayed to you regularly, prayed for them, invested in them, etc.? What gives?

But I’ve learned over the last few years that you are doing things I cannot see. It’s in the Bible over and over again. Some of the stories are obvious to us now (although they were not obvious to the people who experienced them). Joseph, Jacob’s son, could not see how his imprisonment by Uncle Ishmael’s descendants would lead to your glory. But there are other stories that are more subtle. Like Naomi. She lost a husband and two sons, but you ultimately redeemed that to give David his great-grandmother, Ruth. As Yancy said above, ours is not to understand why something happened, but to decide how we are going to respond to the situation or circumstance. Will we trust and hope in you, or will we sink into despair?

My wife and I were talking about Steven Curtis and Mary Beth Chapman’s story of when they lost their young daughter in an accident. They really struggled with both the loss and in dealing with each other and how they were processing the loss. Ultimately, they had to learn to both give freedom to the other as to how they needed to walk through and experience the pain, while still experiencing the pain themselves. And they needed to see how they could support the other in their own walk. It’s complicated, but it’s also essential. Right now, my wife and I are experiencing a painful situation, and we are responding differently. Thankfully, this is not our first rodeo with each other, and we are much better at both communicating what we need and also giving each other the freedom and support to go through the situation the way each of us needs to.

But to go back to the first question because I am way off topic. What would it be like to not experience any of this? What would emotional leprosy (as opposed to physical leprosy) look like? I suppose an emotional leper would be completely insensitive to other people. The parts of my that should contain sympathy and empathy would be gone. I would have no tolerance for others. I also wouldn’t have any motivation to do anything. Without the knowledge that even lethargy will cause me harm, I would totally embrace lethargy and laziness. I would be completely irresponsible because there would be no consequences for my irresponsibility.

I was talking recently with someone about the difficulty of parenting because, as adults we know that we only learn and grow through struggle and trials, but as parents our temptation is to protect our children from struggles as much as possible. I have another friend right now who is struggling to know what to do with his 20-year-old son who is living at home and dropped out of college. Does he kick him out? Does he give him space to figure his life out? Where does he draw the line? And what does he do about his wife’s perspective, which is different than his own? And taking a step further back from the situation, what is it that you are doing for him and his wife through this pain? How are you using it to shape them?

Father, I think it is right that pain is good for us, although it is probably still hard for me to label it as a gift. I’d just call it essential to our development as humans. Right now, the only thing that has restored some of the relationships in my life that were broken was pain and hitting bottom. Alcoholics often have to “hit bottom” to decide that they are powerless over alcohol, their lives have become unmanageable, and they need you to restore them to sanity. It doesn’t happen while they are at the bar. It happens the next morning. So I submit myself to whatever you need me to experience. For repentance. For growth. For love. For empathy and sympathy. For knowing what actions to take. For everything. I give it all to you, Father. I don’t need to know why something is the way it is in my life. I just need to know you are in your heaven and all is right in my world, whether I can see it with my eyes or not.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 

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Monuments

Dear God, I’m praying this on a significant day. It marks the 20-year anniversary of the attacks al-Qaida did on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, and it also marks the one-year anniversary of my father-in-law’s passing.

One of my first thoughts today was to look back to one year ago and remember everything you did for us that day. In retrospect, it was truly remarkable. Through a series of events that frustrated me at the time, I happened to walk in on my wife within two minutes of her having found her dad on the floor. We didn’t know it at that moment, but he had been gone for several hours at that point. She had last seen him the day before. Going back further, it’s a remarkable miracle that he was even living next door to us when he died. There is so much to remember of what you have done for us. My wife was talking this morning about being torn that, on the one hand, he died alone and she wishes she could have been there with him, but, on the other hand, his death was apparently quick and didn’t involve the trauma of EMTs resuscitating him, Emergency Rooms, hospitals, nursing homes and rehab facilities (especially in a time of COVID when she wouldn’t have been able to care for him like she wanted. He got a quick, peaceful and pretty dignified death, all things considered. I would say that any of us, if given the option, would opt in for something similar. So you were really good to all of us a year ago, and although the loss still hurts, which it should, there are some real elements to it that are worth of us worshipping you for your goodness.

Then there is the 20th anniversary of 9/11. I asked my wife this morning if she finds it peculiar that, as a society, we tend to commemorate the days of defeat. Pearl Harbor. Remember the Alamo. 9/11. I’d be curious to know if the French commemorate the day the Germans rolled in back in 1939. Do the Germans remember D-Day or the day they surrendered to the allies? Is it peculiar that we, as a nation, gravitate towards these days of loss and pain? As I’ve thought about it since my conversation with my wife this morning, I’ve wondered if there is something about the pain that unites us, and, at least for a moment, we are drawn to setting aside all of our differences and having something that we can equally share? I still remember all of Congress holding hands on the Capitol steps in 2001 and singing “God Bless America.”

The truth is, we learn so much more about ourselves and others–we grow so much more–in defeat than in victory. Yes, we Texans celebrate winning our independence from Mexico, but we remember more about the Alamo than we remember about San Jacinto. We remember the date of Pearl Harbor more than we remember the dates of D-Day, VE-Day, or VJ-Day. And we will remember 9/11 more than the day the Navy Seals killed Osama bin Laden. Yeah, I wonder how peculiar this is to our culture, or if others do this too.

Father, I always want to be careful to find your fingerprints on the tragedies, because you, my Shepherd, are always there. I can look back to times of great distress in my life and see the little things you did. The little provisions. The daily bread. No, they don’t always turn out the way my human mind thinks they should, but you are still there. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me. Your rod and your staff comfort me. Truly, my cup is overflowing. Thank you.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
 

Hurt and Closure

“Original Blues Clues Host Steve Burns Finally Addresses His Sudden Departure In Viral Twitter Clip” –Vanity Fair

Dear God, hurt and closure are an interesting thing. Sometimes we are hurt and need closure and we don’t even realize it. Even if we are still maintaining a relationship with someone, if there is a lingering unaddressed issue between us it can still fester and steer the relationship in unhealthy ways.

It kind of makes me think of steps 8 and 9 in the 12-step program from AA:

Step 8: “We made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.”

Step 9: “We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.”

I’m bringing all of this up because of the response some people had to the new video clip of Steve Burns addressing Blues Clues fans about why he left. Frankly, he was in character and he didn’t reveal any new information, but there was a visceral reaction for some people to get to see him one more time and have some closure. Some highlights of the Twitter reactions:

So some people had a reaction to Steve’s sweet and affirming video. They got closure on something that they didn’t realize they needed closure on. He left kind of abruptly. I remember being impacted by it myself when he left, and I was just a 32-year-old dad who watched it with his kids.

Of course, there are relationships in my life right now that are in need of some closure. In need of making amends. There’s one in particular that I think needs amends on my part, but I have no idea what my offense was. It frustrates me that the person won’t tell me the sin I committed, but whatever I have done, real or perceived, is obviously coming between us.

Father, help me to do what I need to do accept responsibility for the offenses I commit and to reach out to make amends when appropriate and when it won’t cause more harm than good. And help me to extend forgiveness to those who seek to make amends with me. Bring all of this closure for your glory’s sake. Use it to build unity in families, in your body, in communities, and in the world.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
 

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What’s my part?

Supreme Court declines to block Texas abortion law that bans procedure at six weeks

Dear God, something really, really big recently happened in my state that will impact a woman’s ability to abort a pregnancy. As someone who is pro-life, I’m curious that I’m not dancing on the tables and celebrating. I’m a believer in protecting the right of unborn children to live. Now that the state where I live is supporting that cause through its law, and the Supreme Court of the United States is passively affirming the law, what does that functionally mean?

By the numbers, 150 children per day will not be aborted in Texas (I’m going to ignore the possible number that will go to another state or will be illegally aborted). That translates into over 50,000 children per year, in Texas, who will now be born and require resources to survive. That means more Medicaid spending, More food stamps. More WIC. More needs for Early Head Start, Head Start, and spaces in schools. Assuming that a lot of them are born into difficult homes and poverty, ultimately we will need more police, more jail space. Maybe this is why I’m not dancing on the table. I’m playing the tape to the end and realizing that there is now a lot of work to do.

Father, show me my part to play in all of this. Whether it is helping crisis pregnancy centers, early childhood intervention programs, parent support programs, etc. Show me how to respond. How to spend my money. How to spend my time. Give me your eyes, and, Holy Spirit, move me.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
 

The Prophets

Dear God, I have a confession to make. I’ve pretty much avoided the prophets. The only excuse I have is no excuse at all–I’ve been lazy. I can’t just take a little chunk from Isaiah or Jeremiah and figure out what is going on. I can’t even read the whole book and really get a picture of the context and what is happening. It would take some research and time for me to understand what you might have to teach me through those men, and I’ve been unwilling to commit the time to do it. I’m sorry for that.

I have a vacation coming up soon, and I have an entire set of biblical commentaries. I’ve also been looking for something to read on this vacation to take the place of some of the normal things I do that take (waste?) my time. So my plan is to pick two commentaries and read them while I’m on the trip. And I will pray to you about them as I go. Sometimes through these journals and sometimes not. But I know you have a lot to teach me and apply to our current world through those books.

One thing I feel pretty poignantly right now is the different things happening in the world and what my personal role is in addressing them. What is my response to the tragedies in Afghanistan and Haiti? Human trafficking everywhere (including here)? Supporting the local medical community through COVID? Becoming an advocate for smart pandemic policies? What would you have me do?

Then there are personal things. My relationships with family members. My witness to friends. My willingness to lean on friends and be vulnerable with them.

Something tells me that there might be some words of the Holy Spirit for me buried within those books. So I’m committing you to now that I am going to take the time to start doing a little mining. I might start this weekend, but I am sure I will start when my vacation begins next weekend. I am sorry for my laziness in this area. I am sorry I’ve shunned about 1/3 of your scripture. I’m sorry there are still these parts of me that are so selfish.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on August 27, 2021 in Miscellaneous, Musings and Stories

 

Black Lives Matter & Critical Race Theory

Dear God, I was really surprised to learn in the last week that Critical Race Theory (CRT) has been around since the early 70s. What?!? But I’ve been hearing so much about it lately. How could this not be something new?

I think I first heard it referenced on a podcast a few months ago. What I remember wasn’t an endorsement, but it wasn’t a condemnation either. It reminded me of a column I found about a year ago by Randy Alcorn titled “Black Lived Do Matter, But the BLM Organization Opposes Christian Values: So What Should We Do?” That particular editorial was about how it’s important to not throw out an important concept of realizing there is a racism problem in our society while rejecting the politics of an organization that has co-opted the the words “black lives matter.”

Anyway, to go back two days, I came across this YouTube video showing an exchange between the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a member of Congress, during which CRT was discussed. I’ve recently heard so many scary, alarmist things about CRT, but everyone sounding the alarm about it was very vague. I decided I needed to do my due diligence and learn more about it so that I could develop an informed opinion rather than just decide what I thought about it by whether the person talking up its virtues or its dangers had a (D) or an (R) by their name, or was on CNN or Fox News.

Of course, I started with Wikipedia, the great authority for all knowledge (sarcasm intended). That’s when I confirmed what the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs alluded to: this is not a new concept. I’ll get back to that later. After I read the explanation of it, I read some commentaries by people who are critical (“The Lies that Serve Us” and “What is Critical Race Theory?”). After reading them, my assessment was that there are probably some basic truths.

  • Jim Crow laws are an undeniable way in which state and local governments enacted laws to suppress the advancement of black people.
  • Redlining was a huge factor in suppressing the ability of people of color to build wealth through property ownership.

In fact, I’m going to stop this list. There are too many examples of systemic racism for them to be denied. Quite simply, I am a privileged white man. I get the benefit of the doubt because of how I look. When my wife and I are driving back from South Padre Island and go through the inland border checkpoint, they wave us through without checking our ID, while my Hispanic coworkers have to produce identification. My minority coworkers experience racism at local stores just in how they are treated when I do not. Again, there are too many examples to even list. They are just too numerous. But in short, there are certainly aspects of CRT that are undeniably true.

What’s concerning me is that we’ve become such a binary society. We have to accept all or nothing. If I support Trump or Biden for president, that means I have to either support or attack everything they say, believe, or put into place as policy. Our society no longer values critical thinking and nuance. We can’t see how someone might have a great theory with weak elements or a terrible theory with solid elements. It’s all or nothing.

Finally, I read this piece by Robert Vischer, dean of the law school at St. Thomas University. It’s called “Staying Calm About Critical Race Theory.” Basically, Vischer pulls out the value we can learn from CRT without having to embrace the whole thing. Just like black lives do, indeed, matter, that doesn’t mean we have to embrace everything the organization believes.

So regarding CRT, it feels like people who don’t want to exam how racism is still active in our society and even laws have attached it to an extreme theory so they can avoid dealing with it. It’s ridiculous.

Father, at the end of all of this, I simply ask that you open my eyes so that I can see. Part of that process is to develop more friendships with people with difference color skin than I have. In fact, that’s going to start tonight with church. My wife and I have decided to try to attend the Spanish mass at our Catholic Church as much as possible so that we can at least start the process of getting to know our neighbors. In fact, I’ve already noticed one thing that cannot help but impact the ability for Spanish-speaking Catholics in our town and their relationship with you. Their mass is at 7:00pm on a Saturday night. The Saturday English mass is at 5:00pm. So if I am English-speaking, I can choose mass at 5:00pm on a Saturday and still have my evening ahead of me, or go at 7:30am, 9:00am, or 11:15am on Sunday. But if I am Spanish-speaking, my only choice is to give up the heart of my Friday evening. How much does that impact the ability of the Spanish speaking Catholics to be exposed to mass and to you? So teach me. Open my eyes so I can see. And please direct me so that I might help our society to make a difference when I see injustice at any level.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 

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You Can Do Anything You Want In Life

Dear God, I have a friend who is dying. While I sat watching him lie in bed yesterday and then listened to people talk about him in the times when I wasn’t in the room with him, I started to kind of put some things together.

First, earlier in the day, he wasn’t ready. He was scared. He was fighting the oncoming death. He’s been on hospice for weeks. He’s been terminally ill for years. But he wasn’t ready. He didn’t want any medications to ease his pain or anxiety. Yeah. He wasn’t ready. Then, and for his privacy’s sake I won’t go into too much detail, but about the middle of the day he was tired. He was ready.

So what was he ready for? Well, as I sit and think about myself and what I hold onto in life, I think there might be a few things.

  • Ready to stop participating in the world and its history.
  • Ready to stop contributing to the lives around me.
  • Ready to accept that I’ve done all I will do and the world will now go on without me, perhaps forgetting me completely.
  • Ready to say goodbye.

So how does that relate to the title I gave this prayer? Well, when one mom was talking about this friend’s influence on her children, she said he always instilled in them that they could do anything they wanted to do, but it would take hard work. When I heard this, I started to put some things together–even in my own heart. For so many of us, this is how we approach life. We have things to accomplish. We have things we want to achieve. We have power to attain, influence to acquire, and admiration to earn. Ultimately, we want to be able to stack up our life against someone else’s and hope we compare favorably. And I use all of this broadly and from a worldly perspective because these are the things the world calls us to do.

But what if we take the philosophy of doing anything we want in life and bring it under your authority? When we get to the end of the road, what is it that you would like us to stack up for comparison?

  • We we able to be humble, admit our faults/weaknesses, and share them with others?
  • Did we pursue relationship with you and become more Christlike in the process? In other words, were we Jesus followers, and not just Jesus believers?
  • Were we in close enough relationship with you that we knew to stop and listen for your still, small voice to call us to action?
  • Did we love richly and give your mercy to others?
  • Did we bring others the hope and peace of relationship with you?

Out of the 350 million Americans, or 6+ billion people in the world, the odds are long that my life will be remembered more than a few years beyond my death. Few people achieve the notoriety of leaving a mark on the world like presidents of the United States, great captains of industry like Steve Jobs, etc. No, my life will be smaller than theirs. But that’s okay.

Father, what I want in life is to be found faithful. I want to be open-minded to the idea that I don’t know as much as I think I know–about the world, or myself. I want to be willing to do what I think is right even though it might cost me the love of someone I love, even if what I’m doing is for their good. I want to have touched lives in a way that plays throughout history, and it’s okay if I do this anonymously. It’s okay if my name is lost to history. I know it is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. That’s all I need.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 

Discernment

Dear God, I’ve never been great at reading people. I tend to play things pretty straight so I expect others are doing the same. I forget to look beneath the facade someone is showing me and try to see what might be driving their motivations. I mean, I’ve gotten better at it over the last 10 or 15 years. I at least recognize the need to do it. One of the first things I do for new volunteers and employees at our clinic is show them a Chick-fil-a training video called “Every Life Has a Story.” It shows a camera panning through a Chick-fil-a restaurant, zooming in on each person, including the staff, and revealing a fact about their personal life in a caption beneath their smiling or not smiling face. If only we all came with captions.

There are some people around me that I need to really live up to being better about reading what’s going on beneath the surface. My wife. My children. My staff. My friends. I was talking with one recently, and I just knew that the words I was hearing didn’t match the demeanor I was reading. There was an unconvincing disconnect that told me things were not as they were trying to portray. Responding to that disconnect is another thing altogether.

Father, make me the husband, father, and friend you need me to be for those around me. Help me to know when and how to reach out, and when and how to remain silent. Help me to be what you need me to be in each life so that I would consider my own life worth nothing to me, but that I might complete the task and finish the race you have given to me, regardless of what it costs me. For your glory and your plan, oh Lord.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on May 29, 2021 in Miscellaneous

 

17 Reasons People Never Want to Have Children

Dear God, I was just scanning headlines this morning when I came across this article from Buzzfeed. Let me just list the 17 reasons really quickly:

  • I have never seen a person with children and thought to myself, ‘I want that life.’
  • I’m too mentally ill from childhood trauma and have various autoimmune diseases It wouldn’t be fair to have a child when I’m not completely present for them. I love kids, but not for me.
  • Once I’m a mom, I can never not be a mom. I like deciding what I can do whenever I want to without having to care for a child. I feel like a partner is already ‘compromise’ (for lack of a better word) of free time.
  • I understand the immense responsibility and sacrifice they are, and choose instead to work on myself and continue to nurture my own experiences and growth through the one life I have.
  • Pregnancy is terrifying to me. I never want to try it.
  • I’ve just never had that desire. I always thought it would ‘kick in’ as I got older, but no. It’s been kinda hard to come to terms with it in regards to society’s standards and expectations.
  • I don’t want to go through birth and don’t like the baby stage. Children and toddlers are fun and can be adorable, but not 24/7. I like money and the peace of mind that I won’t do anything to screw up their lives, and finally, I’m not responsible or mature enough.
  • I love my life too much. I hate mess and noise, I love traveling whenever I like, I love going for trips and meals out with my husband, and I love being able to do what I want whenever I want. I don’t want to spend my days listening to crying, arguing, whining, doing the school run in the rain, and shopping for food. The planet has plenty of humans and we have done a great job of wrecking the planet and treating animals so cruelly, I don’t want to add to that problem.
  • In my opinion, I should justify why I want kids instead of finding reasons why I don’t want them. In my case, I don’t have a reason to want them.
  • On the relationships front, I remember seeing a statistic that more marriages with kids end in divorce than marriages without kids — having kids wrecks marriages. Other studies have found that child-free couples are FAR happier than couples with kids.
  • I don’t have the delusion that having children will somehow guarantee love or that I won’t be alone on my deathbed. Lots of people are alone on their deathbed anyway (I work in end-of-life care). Also, given the state of the Earth with regards to climate change, I feel it’s kinda s***** to keep making more humans. We probably can’t turn this ship around.
  • Our society is structures so that nearly everyone but the wealthy are living hand-to-mouth. I feel no security in my life and find life stressful. I can’t imagine how bad that would be if I had to worry about another soul.
  • I’m selfish, so I’m not going to sacrifice my time for them. I don’t want to bring kids into this world if they can’t be unconditionally loved.
  • I’m absolutely terrified of developing postpartum depression.
  • I’m stingy. I don’t want something that takes up the majority of my life for the foreseeable future.
  • I’m the kind of person that often changes his mind. Like, to do whatever he wants and go back if need be. Where will my return option be if I have a child?
  • I’d rather regret not having children than regret having them.

Wow, that’s quite a list. My responses to it have morphed throughout the day. My first response was to focus on the selfishness that most of these quotes claim for themselves and how it’s good for all of us to be broken from our selfishness. This is something that needs to be purged from all of our lives, and children is not a sure-fire way to do it, but it’s certainly a side-effect if I let it be. But the more I think about that the more I think about the caveat “if I let it be.” Too many parents do not sacrifice for their children the way they should. Perhaps the father shirks his responsibility and leaves the mother with all of it. The opposite can be true as well, although this can be less common.

And I’m not going to get into who the children become when they grow up, being damaged by their childhood (childhood trauma was mentioned a few times in the list). That’s a whole different topic. I’m talking about the parents now.

Back on topic, the more I thought about it the more I realized that a lot of key Bible characters were not fathers. We know that Jesus wasn’t a father. Saul/Paul wasn’t a father. I don’t know that we can be sure, but it appears that John the Baptist wasn’t a father. I don’t know about the others such as Peter (we know he was married), Timothy, John Mark, etc. But I think it can be concluded that it’s not a sin to not be a father (although there are some churches that hold birth control up as a sin, and I’m not going to get into that either–not the point of what I’m writing here).

So if it’s not a sin to not be a parent (the birth control debate not withstanding), how do I feel about these reasons? Am I willing to embrace them as legitimate? I have two children who are now in their 20s. Suffice it to say, things did not go as I hoped for them, but that doesn’t mean their lives haven’t played out so far exactly how you’ve needed them to play out for their sakes. I will say, as I think about them each possibly having children one day, I do worry about their ability to fight against the tides in society as they raise any grandchildren my wife and I might have. It was more complicated to raise them than it was for my parents to raise me. Technology made taking away privileges almost impossible because they had so many more ways to sneak around “grounding” than I could ever have imagined. Now you add the increasing toxicity of social media and the media to which they will be exposed without my ability to control it–it’s frightening. I was 26 when our son was born. If I were 25 now, I would seriously think twice about having children simply because of the current I have have to swim against.

At the same time, I heard someone say one time, if Christians stop having children then who is left to have children? The same is true for things like public schools. If Christians take their children out of public schools, who is left in public school?

I don’t know. I’m not getting as far with this topic and article as I had hoped. I guess I would say that I understand each individual’s reluctance to have children. I understand the fear. I understand the selfishness. I understand the philosophical question of whether the Earth can handle more children. I guess what I would counsel anyone wrestling with this question–or not wrestling–to keep an open mind as you go through life. Of course, if they are Christians, listen to your still small voice. Listen to the Holy Spirit. Be willing to have your life turned upside down and even made miserable. Maybe that’s what you have for us. Maybe that’s the road you need us to me or them to walk to turn us into the people you need us to be. Maybe our lives are not about us, but about you. But one thing I do hope–that each person who decides to not have children will refrain from giving parenting advice to those of us who have them. 🙂

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen