children and choices

I've been talking with people about having children, and paying attention to parents more. And I've noticed that many seem not to intentionally make the choice to have kids. It happens pretty naturally, after all. And for most there is the assumption going into marriage that children will follow. So the choice before them is more about what kind of parents they want to be. With some other friends, who have struggled more about the question of whether or not to have children, they wonder if issues like overpopulation and the condition of our society are good enough reasons to refrain from having children. When I consider what most children eventually become, the pain and lostness, I also have wondered whether it is good to bring another person into the world.

In my thoughts about it lately, though, the choice before us is starting to look quite different. I say I believe that it is God who creates each of us, who decides to bring each individual into being, who breathes life into each new person. And that it is ultimately for our existence with God that each of us is given life. From this perspective, each child is not the decision or project of a parent, but of God. They are always more truthfully God's children than ours. The choice set before us is not whether another child should be born or how children should be raised. The choice is how we will participate in God's work of bringing his children into his world.

I often do not understand God's ways, but it seems clear that God thinks it good to continue to bring new life among us. That is not a decision for me to make. People will continue to be born and grow up among us. The question put to me is in what way do I feel called to participate in that, and there are many different ways. But it seems important to remember that whether it is as parent or mentor or teacher or friend, the creation and nurturing of each human person is God's choice and God's work, in which I am invited to play a part.