Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Joy and sorrow

A precious woman of Christ was crying yesterday about her only child, a daughter. Evidently, there are some hard things she is worried about concerning her daughter.  We can all relate.

But I found myself thinking: Okay, so the more children I have, the greater the sorrow? Does my sorrow and worry over my children greatly multiply in value, the more children I have?

I am also reminded of this mathematical formula:

The exponential nature of conflict in big families:
If you have two children, there two possibilities for conflict (two times one)
Three children – six possibilities for conflict (three times two)
Four children – twelve opportunities for conflict (four times three)
Five children – TWENTY opportunities for conflict (five times four)
Six children – THIRTY opportunities for conflict (six times five)

Ay, yi, yi.

But I thought to myself: Andrea, that's silly. Remember that famous quote... from Stepping Heavenward?

A friend says to Katy (the character):

You shall now have one more mouth to fill and two more feet the more to shoe, more disturbed nights, more laborious days, and less leisure or visiting, reading, music, and drawing.

Her response?

Well! That is one side of the story, to be sure, but I look at the other. Here is a sweet, fragrant mouth to kiss; here are two more feet to make music with their pattering about my nursery. Here is a soul to train for God; and the body in which it dwells is worthy all it will cost, since it is the abode of a kingly servant. I may see less of friends, but I have gained one dearer than them all, to whom, while I minister in Christ’s name, I make a willing sacrifice of what little leisure for my own recreation my other darlings had left me. Yes, my precious baby, you are welcome to your mother’s heart, welcome to her time, her strength, her health, her tenderest cares, to her lifelong prayers! Oh, how rich I am, how truly, how wondrously blest!

Despite the conflicts, the sorrow, the worry, the time lost for other "things", there is another side of it that must balance it out: the Joy. John Piper says "to be a mother is a call to suffer". I am not talking about suffering in the human way, I am talking about suffering for the cause of Christ: the only way to live out our joy and sorrow intertwined as part of being a mother. Do we believe His word when He says, "children are a blessing from the Lord?" Do we let the sorrow overtake the joy? Or do we look for the exponential power of our Lord Jesus Christ, who took a few loaves of bread and fish, and multiplied it for the five thousand men (not to mention women and children there)?

Needing some joy? Visit the archives, my Fighting for Joy posts.


Terry said...

With more children, the opportunities for worry may be multiplied- but just maybe.

The capacity and opportunity for love will certainly be mulitplied, and that's a fact.

And the opportunity to love far outweighs any possible worrries that may come. And remember the words of Jesus: "In the world you WILL have tribulation". If I'm going to have to contend with conquering the spirit of worry, I'd rather be worrying about someone other than my self.

As we are preparing to meet our newest little one very soon, I think the quote you included from "Stepping Heavenward" is particularly beautiful. I simply MUST read that book! And soon!

Monica said...


A reminder that what the world my view as "loss" we count as "gain" immeasurable.

Beck said...

I think that when someone has one child, they tend to micromanage them and worry about EVERY LITTLE THING and when you have more kids, you just can't. So I don't think that the level of worry doubles with each kid, by any means.

Aimee said...

I love this and I really love your blog! You write the most encouraging things and God has used your daily writings so often in my life since I stumbled upon your posts. I read Stepping Heavenward many years ago and all these little quotes you post make me want to dig it out and reread it again!

laurel said...

Ok, that's it!!! I simply must get that book and read it! This was a wonderful post, and something I have been thinking about lately, as my husband and I contemplate adoption (we have three boys now, and are open to having more biological children). My selfish side wants the free time, the full night of sleep, the peace. But something in me longs to put aside my selfish desires and to "be fruitful and multiply"...and have a quiver full, whether that be three or ten...thank you for this wonderful post. So encouraging.

L.L. Barkat said...

I like the positive spin. It reminds me of something my older daughter said one day about babies. I was talking with someone about how much work they are, and she said that this is balanced by how much love they give. (Hold that thought, Child!)

Goodlikeamedicine said...

You know I love to talk about fighting for joy! :)

I think this is just how it is when we are on the brink of our weddings, too. Stepping into marriage can be scary this way, but we have faith that the joy is greater than the suffering... :) I know in my short 7 years with my husband that this has been the case, and I pray for it to be multiplied as our circumstances, storms, and struggles are added to the years as well.

laura said...

thank you for the reminder- stepping heavenward is one of my favorite books- truly the blessings and heartaches abound with children. they are so worth the price!

Prairie Chick said...

>>You shall now have one more mouth to fill and two more feet the more to shoe, more disturbed nights, more laborious days, and less leisure or visiting, reading, music, and drawing.<<

Wow, if this isn't a perfect example of the "cup half empty or full" adage.... I see it as one more mouth to utter little words that brighten my life; two more feet to kiss and tickle, one more purpose to devote myself to and delight myself in, and one more remarkable person to *share* my delight in leisure, visiting, reading, music and drawing.

What a great reminder this was today of the things to be thankful for! I'm so glad I don't have an empty immaculate house in which to spend my days drawing and reading ALONE.

Holly said...

There is something to that exponential potential for conflict....

and it can make a mother's head spin sometimes. I *wish* mine all got along angelically...but then they wouldn't have these wonderful strong personalities that will make them into wonderful strong people who will unapologetically serve the Lord!


AND it is ALL SO WORTH IT! Oh, more little mouths and little feet and shiny eyes. Amazing! :)

tonia said...

lovely, Andrea...and such good truth for a weary momma.

Thank you my friend.

Bethany W. said...

Which Piper book did you quote? Sounds like a good read... it is probably already in my husband's library!

Monday through Sunday said...

Beautiful! I love being a mother!

Beverly said...

I love love LOVE Stepping Heavenward. And I loved this post. Thank you as always!

The Arnold Family said...

Would you mind if I posted this on my blog? Ofcourse I would give you the credit. My husband and I feel the same way.

Andrea said...

Sure! I don't mind!

Susan said...

Hi Andrea,

Just linked over here from "somewhere?" I've really been enjoying each post I've read!

So nice to meet you!

I WILL be back.

This was really great. Got a little nervous reading as the numbers went up. I'm the mom of 5 sons! And yes, there is lots of conflict, but so much JOY!!