Young & considering parenthood

Written by Tymarcus Ragland
Published on July 14, 2020

My wife and I met at the age of seventeen. 

Our friendship organically blossomed into an exclusive relationship, and immediately we were determined to aim for marriage. After completing my freshman year of college online, I was preparing to head off to school the summer before my sophomore year. 

My wife and I had been dating for about a year, and our goal of marriage was more acute than ever. I was attending my home church at the time and a middle-aged, married man approached and pulled me to the side. 

I’ll never forget what he told me: “Son, you don’t want to go off to school tied down. As soon as you get on campus, there are going to be so many beautiful women waiting.”

He continued on, not realizing his advice was landing on deaf ears. Once he had finished his appeal, I inquired: “How long have you been married?”

“Fifteen years,” he said.

I asked: “Have you seen any other beautiful women in those fifteen years?”

“Of course,” he replied.

My response: “Then it seems to me the goal isn’t to search for the world’s most beautiful woman, but rather, the one God has set before us.”

Five years later, I still believe I found God’s best for me. 

What is God’s best for you and your spouse? 

God’s word is best

If your marital experience has been anything like mine, you have had a few people tell you to make babies, while the rest of the world has told you to soak up as much of your empty nesting time as possible. 

They say: “Once you have kids it’s all over!” 

However, the same God that brought your spouse and you together (and has kept you together), can also keep and lead you into parenthood. 

As young married folks, we receive an array of advice as to when we should buy a house, how much traveling we should do, and many other stipulations before having children. There is wisdom in all of these pieces of advice, but there can also be great danger if it cheapens our perspective of parenthood. 

Man’s advice is good, but God’s word is best.

Choose his blueprint

In Psalm 127, God properly orients our perspective of the family. 

Though we typically think of ourselves as being in control of the situation, God reminds us that he is the builder and watchman of our household. Parenthood and marriage are a stewardship that God entrusts to us. When we relinquish to him the authority he is due, we are gifted rest. 

This means that God’s blueprint for our family supersedes our rough sketch.

And he reminds us that “children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward” (v. 3). Children aren’t a hindrance, an interruption, a mistake, or a liability—they are valuable gifts from God. In fact, the psalmist goes on to say that children in one’s youth are like arrows in the hands of a warrior, and he whose quiver is full is blessed! 

The world tells us that we will miss out when we have children, but God says we will be blessed and unashamed.

A gift not a wage

When my wife and I first conceived, we miscarried. 

The loss of our child marked the most devastating season in our marriage thus far. The emptiness of our nest did not feel serene. It humbled me. 

For the first time in my life, I realized that child bearing was not in my control. My eyes were opened, and my heart was softened toward the many couples who are unable to bear children of their own. 

Child bearing truly is a gift and not a wage.

Throughout that season, I learned what it meant to pray without ceasing. I covered my family with prayer more than ever before. And I repented of my pride and selfishness. 

Today, I believe I am a better father than I would have been, had God not done the hard work of shifting my view of children from burden to blessing. 

A different kind of joy

Don’t get me wrong, my wife and I thoroughly enjoyed the many vacations and eventful weekends that empty nesting afforded us. 

However, parenthood has not left us wanting for joy. 

A mentor once shared with me a marriage adage: “When you realize it’s a privilege to walk with her, it will be a pleasure to talk with her.” 

I find the sentiment to be true of parenting as well. When you realize having children is a privilege, it will be a pleasure to raise them.

So yes, your life will look different with children. 

Yes, there will be some long days and some sleepless nights. 

And yes, there will be moments when you are tempted to research the hospital’s return policy. 

These truths are no different than the difficulties that come with marriage. And like marriage, the goal is sanctification not comfort

Children make marriage better. They make you better. Take God’s word for it.

 

Image credit: Maurissa Starks, see @rissajayshoots for more photos

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Tymarcus Ragland

Tymarcus Ragland and his bride, Chrissy have been married for 5 years. He received a B.A. in Youth Ministry & Biblical Studies from Moody Bible Institute and a Masters in Humanities from the University of Dallas. He currently teaches middle and upper school Bible, and owns his own coffee roasting business.

Read more about Tymarcus

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