A little over a month ago I wrote a complain-y post about waiting to deliver our baby. Well, things have been a little busy since he arrived a month ago on July 18th.
On the day I went in to be induced, being past my due date (and having gestational diabetes) Dave and I drove to the hospital & decided to pray the office together- liturgical prayers for morning, noon & night with scriptures & meditations to go along with it. That day the scripture included Psalm 127, a psalm that God has continued to bring up in my life a lot in 2011. This psalm has always confused me, and yet been one I’ve heard used quite often in ministry contexts. For those of you unfamiliar with it, it goes a little something like this:
A song of ascents. Of Solomon.
1 Unless the LORD builds the house,
the builders labor in vain.
Unless the LORD watches over the city,
the guards stand watch in vain.
2 In vain you rise early
and stay up late,
toiling for food to eat—
for he grants sleep to[a] those he loves.
3 Children are a heritage from the LORD,
offspring a reward from him.
4 Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
are children born in one’s youth.
5 Blessed is the man
whose quiver is full of them.
They will not be put to shame
when they contend with their opponents in court.
Early on in ministry, this psalm was a reminder to me that I needed to trust God with my efforts to invest in students lives, to develop them into leaders and to grow the chapter. I could work as hard as I wanted- fundraising, meeting with students until the wee hours, crafting great strategies and get exhausted doing it. The first part of this psalm reminded me that I needed to pray, rest and trust that the things God could build were better than what I could create on my own- those were the things that would last in students lives forever!
It wasn’t until this year when I was taking a silent retreat at a catholic retreat center (which also happened to be near a really great donut shop) that the second half of the psalm started to make sense to me. As I walked the frozen grounds, looking at the stations of the cross sticking up out of the snow I began to pray about my anxiety about having a second child. I prayed about what having another baby would mean for our family and for my career and what kinds of transitions would ensue. This is when the second half of Psalm 127 came to mind; children are a heritage, a reward- they are as strategic as arrows in the hands of a warrior when parents invest in their kids to be love God, care about his people and this world.
As much as I had considered how the first part of the psalm applied to ministry, or any job really, I hadn’t considered how it was true of families as well. Having kids is a choice to trust God that he’ll provide enough for you and your family- he’s the one who is able to give parents strength to build a home, watches guard over children to keep them safe & healthy and grants blissful nights of sleep to exhausted parents. It’s a choice, especially for women to trust that though things may need to slow down career wise to care for young children, God is able to financially provide for families. It’s a choice to trust that though I may not be able to take as many professional opportunities as I might have without kids, God is building into my life and ministry in significant ways that bless me, my family and ministry in the years to come.