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Allison Althoff
Allison Althoff
Natalie Lederhouse
Natalie Lederhouse

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December 10, 2012

Why I’m Afraid of Children

Childbirth is a beautiful thing—so why does labor have to hurt so badly?

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As a 20-something woman with hopes of having children someday, pregnancy, at the moment, seems terrifying. From a scientific perspective, the words pain and contractions leap off the page at me mercilessly. My babysitting misadventures have often ended in burnt popcorn and kitchens full of smoke, and characters like Honey Boo Boo from shows like Toddlers and Tiaras make me cringe.

Quotes like, “Everything changes when they’re your own, honey,” do nothing to calm my spirit when I encounter a screaming child throwing a tantrum in the aisle of a grocery store. It’s because of these moments that I automatically classify most children as little terrors.

To deal with my irrational fears of child rearing, God has recently placed friends in my life who deal with children on a daily basis. A few are full-time nannies, some are preschool teachers, and my two roommates are elementary school music teachers. They all have seemingly endless supplies of patience and compassion. Though they often tell horror stories of children with short attention spans, ones who eat tissues and lint as snacks, and some who pick fights with others over who gets to line up for lunch first, my friends still go back to work each day with conviction that they are making the world a better place.

My fears often seem daunting, but I’ve also been reassured by several mothers that the joy of holding your child for the first time far surpasses any agony endured during the contractions of labor. This is a foreign concept to me, but as Kristyn Getty said in our interview about motherhood last month, “There’s something about becoming a mother that, at least for me, was overwhelming. There’s something about it that drives you to your knees.”

I can definitely relate to her honesty.

Because even though I’m not a mother (yet), whenever I hear stories from my friends of students who pick fights, disrespect their peers in the classroom, or join gangs, my heart breaks. It’s not just breaking for the students—it’s also breaking for the mothers who brought them into the world. What if, when their pregnancy tests showed positive, they weren’t ready to have a child? Just like I’m not ready right now?

At The Story Tour last week, author Randy Frazee and musical artists Nichole Nordeman, Matthew West, Jeremy Camp, Natalie Grant, and more took me (and thousands of other audience members) on a musical journey through the Bible. Part of the performance was a beautiful rendition of a song called “Be Born in Me”—a musical narrative describing Mary’s willingness to bear Jesus, even though it meant welcoming boatloads of shame and judgment from onlookers who knew she was pregnant out of wedlock.

This song gave me pause: as discussed in last week’s TCW article, “Venerate Mary?,” Mary is the mother of God, and “is a wonderful model for us because she shows us how we, as women, should follow God.”

This means that being a woman seeking after God’s heart does not mean my circumstances will always be what I pictured for myself (Isaiah 55:9). It’s not as though Mary asked to become pregnant with the Savior of the world—yet she was willing to be used in whatever way God chose to use her (Luke 1:38).

On the heels of the concert, I read Amy Simpson’s blog post, “Expecting Jesus This Advent.” After reading the article, I asked myself: Am I truly preparing my heart for the work the Spirit wants to do in me at this point in my life?

Maybe it’s okay that I’m not ready to have a child, but it’s not all right for me to see children as irritating and a threat to my individuality. Life’s not perfect, and instead of avoiding conflict and fearing the future, I’ve been learning the true meaning of surrender means accepting adversity in stride.

In choosing to surrender my plans and desires to God, I can trust he will continue to form me into the woman he created me to be. In time, I trust my plans will better align with his, and I may be blessed enough to play a small part of building his kingdom here on earth—fearlessly (Matthew 6:10).

I have therefore decided to make this Advent season a time of preparation—not necessarily to give birth to a child, but to welcome God into every compartment of my heart, and every aspect of my life, no matter how uncomfortable it may seem. I probably won’t wake up in Uganda tomorrow with 12 adopted children like 22-year-old Katie Davis did, but then again, I just might—and I'm learning how to be okay with that.

What fears have you encountered in surrendering your plans to God?

Allison J. Althoff is associate online editor of Today’s Christian Woman.

Related Tags: attitude, babies, challenges, child-rearing, children, god's will, incarnation, mary, mother of jesus, motherhood, parenting, pregnancy, purpose

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