Sunday, March 15, 2009

My life has officially changed forever...

because my wife is pregnant with our first child. Most of you probably already know this. I'm writing to sort of put some of my feelings about this in word form, so as to reference it in the future (therefore this post is more therapeutic for myself, rather than meant for everyone else).

I definitely have very clear and distinct emotions after learning the news. I've been overwhelmed with feelings of excitement and anticipation, anxiety and fear, and sense the heaviness of the responsibility that God has been gracious enough to bestow on me. I'll deal with each of the emotions in order of my listing them.

First there's the excitement and anticipation. For years I've dreamed about what it would be like to have children that I'm responsible for. I've fancied the moments where I can teach them and share with them. I don't know why, but it seems like I've been built for fatherhood. I've spent most of my adult life immersing myself in books, trying to learn as much as I can about life and how it fits together, not really for myself, but in order that I might pass that on to my children. I really desire children who will glorify God with their lives, and I'm excited for the opportunity for God to use me in rearing children who love and glorify Him. I'm excited at the idea of a family, a real family. I'm not putting down singleness or married couples without children, I think that those things are wonderful in their own rites, it's just that there seems to me to be something sacred about the propagation of life. There's something that excites me about this opportunity for my wife and I to focus our love together on another person, who we are responsible for bringing into the world (naturalistically speaking; God is really the one responsible.). I'm anticipating watching the growth of my child/children, watching them learn about God's creation, and coming to recognize Christ as their Creator, Sustainer, Saviour and Lord. All of these things excite me.

All of this excitement, however, is mixed with an amount of anxiety and fear. I recognize the fact that I'm bringing this child into a fallen world, a world where the hearts of men are corrupt and wicked. A world that could potentially distort the mind of the child, and cause him to continue in his sin. I know that he/she will be born into sin, and I recognize that they may be subject to the same weaknesses and temptations that I am - and I know the grief and sufferings that they have caused me, and want to spare my child from the damaging effects of sin. I know that there's a chance that my child will not come to recognize God as being who He is, that there's a chance that he/she will reject Christ as Messiah, and that truly worries me more than anything else. I desire a child who glorifies God with his life from an early age, and my heart aches at the thought that they may continue under the bondage of a sinful heart for many years, and possibly their whole life. It causes me distress to think that my child could reject Christ and be damned to eternal punishment because of their rebellious heart. I worry at the thought that I'm imperfect, I might lose my temper with them, I may be a poor example of Christlikeness for them, and I may be just a selfish and uncaring father. I pray that I never reach that state.

I recognize that I can't do anything about the fears that I have, the only thing I can do is to cast those worries on God, allow Him to deal with them, and rest in the righteousness of Christ. I'm thankful that God is such a person that He takes those anxieties from me, and gives me peace. I'm also thankful for the worries themselves which have been helpful for me to understand the responsibility I've been charged with. While I can't make any choices for the child, and I have to allow them to go their own way, trusting that God will lead them, there are things that I can do as a parent. My wife and I are responsible for creating a home environment which the child will know God is real, and know that we are fallen. I can display to them the true character of a Christian life, by being disciplined myself for the purpose of godliness. I can show them that it's not the things that you do that make you just before God, but it is humility and brokenness before Him that allows Him to make you holy. All of the things that I've been striving to practice in my own life for the past 10 years have now been brought to the forefront of my thought with a sense of urgency that I find difficult to express. My past failures to live a holy life consistently before God have shown me that I don't really care about myself very much, and don't consider myself as being very valuable to Him. That statement is not meant to show my humility, but a recognition of a false view of myself which needs to be purged. The urgency comes from the knowledge that the way I live my life will now affect another person in a very real way that I had not previously been aware of. I've always been vaguely cognizant that my life/actions affect other people in some fashion, but the role of fatherhood has brought that unequivocally to the forefront. Whether or not I am broken and humble before God, whether or not I live a practically (as opposed to theoretically) holy life, whether or not I am thoroughly devoted to Christ will now have a direct impact on another human being who I already care about far more than myself. So in response to my fears/anxieties I gain insight to my responsibilities as a father to create an environment which is godly, by humbling myself before God and asking Him to make me godly. Applying myself to the spiritual disciplines has become more important now than ever. Prayer is an absolute must now. I can't be 'on again off again' with my prayer life. Finally, I can't become narrowly focused anymore on just myself, my wife, or my child in my prayers, as selfishness in prayer is still selfishness. I must have a robust prayer life, praying for all of those who are dear to me, and even those who are not.

I forgot to mention the one final emotion that sort of trumps all the others. That is the inexpressible joy that I feel. I guess that's part of the excitement/anticipation, but it is a sort of all-encompassing emotion. It takes in to itself the excitement/anticipation, the anxiety/fear and the sense of responsibility. All of these feelings are part of the joy that I feel. I begin to feel weepy when I really reflect on the coming days for Eunji and I; and it's a good thing. I feel incredibly thankful to my Lord for blessing me in this way.

To my child: when you come, you will be loved.