18 May 2008

Tribulations, perseverance, character, hope

I'm not the best apologist for CSPP. The whole contraception thing is easy to pose in theoretical terms: although there may be allowances for extreme cases of unique hardship, contraception is out. But how extreme, and how unique, and what hardship? How hyper does the emesis have to be to make some NFP-accomplished spacing morally defensible? How poor is poor enough in our climate-controlled, overfed society? Does mom's psychological stability count for anything when it can't even be quantified? How do we measure up to our foremothers who didn't have any options when it came to family sizing regardless of how they felt*?

Even more concretely, I know only a few people who haven't encountered at least one more or less extraordinary hardship along the way. May the bold and winning personalities over at All Onan, All the Time (kidding! kidding!) have mercy on my soul, but I don't want to be the one telling the real women who throw up for months, have difficult and protracted deliveries, will never be the same after 4th-degree lacerations, fight true demons postpartum, suffer repeated miscarriages, etc., to grin and literally bear it. Babies ad menopausum is a darn tall order for someone like me who has never had a serious or lasting complication. What about these girls who don't have it so comparatively easy?

To calm myself down when I start getting unhappy about all this, I remind myself of something that I'm pretty sure I came across, surprisingly, in one of those rabid papist books on the topic. For those who doubt or question, who fear or resent, with scary pasts or unpromising futures, don't try to force yourself to decide to have 53 babies. Just decide to have one (or one more). Maybe it won't be as bad as you think. You won't know until you try.

Or maybe it will be as bad as you think. But you'll have received another immeasurably precious gift of God.

I don't know what's going to happen anyway. My next baby may be my last. My last baby may be my last. For a long-ranger worrier like me, this is a hard lesson. But I know that what I need to do is just trust God today, and then do that every day (including the day I get pregnant, the day I don't get pregnant, the day the baby is born, the day the baby still isn't born). And also not think about how much I don't want to go through labor again.

*I know, all historical periods have had their methods of limiting children without abstinence. But not all people have.

13 comments:

Susan said...

>>For those who doubt or question, who fear or resent, with scary pasts or unpromising futures, don't try to force yourself to decide to have 53 babies. Just decide to have one (or one more)

>>But I know that what I need to do is just trust God today, and then do that every day

Did you just say that we can do a better job obeying the law if we just decide to trust God better? Whence comes the power to trust, or the decision to trust?

And second, is this a trust that things will work out okay temporally (mom's health, finances, etc) or a trust that we and the children will remain God's own even though we die or go insane?

Adam Roe said...

Agitated male makes his entry...

Did you just say that we can do a better job obeying the law if we just decide to trust God better? Whence comes the power to trust, or the decision to trust?

Ack! Lutheran deconstructionist pietism. Forde would be proud.

Lest we forget Herr Luther's words, "...the old Adam in us should, by daily contrition and repentance, be drowned and die with all sins and evil lusts..." One could just as easily ask, "whence comes the power to be contrite or repent?"

You're fine Rebekah. Trust away.

Agitated male makes his exit...

Rebekah said...

>>Did you just say that we can do a better job obeying the law if we just decide to trust God better?

No.

>>Whence comes the power to trust, or the decision to trust?

I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith . . . .

>>And second, is this a trust that things will work out okay temporally (mom's health, finances, etc) or a trust that we and the children will remain God's own even though we die or go insane?

The latter.

Adam, you'd make a fine washing machine. :)

Reb. Mary said...

I expend/waste plenty of mental energy on this topic too. And struggle with the one-day-at-a-time trust. (My husband regularly calls me on not just crossing a bridge before I come to it, but on crossing 6 bridges that don't even exist.)

Reb. Mary said...

and i'm rather disturbed by how often i find the rabid papist stuff on the topic to be helpful (or at least nuggets thereof)

Reb. Mary said...

'Nother random thought: I've also felt much better about this whole gig since realizing that I don't have to be everyone else's conscience on the topic. Um, I have enough problems with my own. Which I'll save for a post on the topic sometime, if it ever gets sorted out enough. Ha ha.

Susan said...

Thanks, Rebekah. I've just heard SO many people try to convince me
that if I (or others) just do the right thing (with regard to birth
control or whatever the case may be), that will prove my trust in God.

And I think, nope, I am plagued with unbelief and doubts, and what I do or don't do isn't going to change my heart. It may change my
behavior, but it does nothing for my heart. The only thing that does that is confessing that I don't trust and receiving the
absolution.

Rebekah said...

The nonexistent bridge problem is exactly what I was getting at. No point in ordering that 20-slice toaster yet.

I also find the papists a more relaxing read on the topic, maybe just because when you find something you disagree with there's no danger in blowing them off. The LCMS is too small for dissent not to get personal, especially in small interest groups such as this.

elephantschild said...

After once again finding me in tears for feeling condemned by fellow Christians, my hubby has told me I need to stop reading your blog.

No matter how much other women say "You have a valid reason" not to actively pursue another pregnancy (that's different than contracepting, please note) I cannot shake the feeling that my reasons are not "good enough" and that I must simply be the weakest woman in the entire world because I just can't do it.

So, as much as I love this blog, and support all that you are trying to do, and as much as I realize that I'm taking this all too personally - I've got to sign off.

I'd welcome other discussion - my email is in my blogger profile.

God bless,
-Jenny / elephantschild.

Concordian Sister said...

My primary audience is myself. My secondary audience is my fellow bloggers, Reb. Mary and Gauntlets; we all came along to talk to each other. Nothing that we write is authoritative, binding, or even necessarily right. Anyone else who reads the dumb things we enjoy discussing here is more than welcome to find us boring, misled, insipid, specious, erroneous, etc. Only the reader is equipped to judge her own heart and to take our words for what they're worth--not much in our humble opinions. I apologize if my rhetorical use of the second person in this post made anyone think that I know what I'm talking about. I don't. I'm just a stupid girl trying to find her way and bugging my friends about it while I do. I don't know anything about readers of our blog who have found us online and as such have nothing to say about how they live their lives. Please forgive me for any unhappiness I've caused, and know that it was entirely unintentional. Rebekah

Reb. Mary said...

Jenny/EC--

To reiterate my previous comment, I /the Concordian Sisters certainly have no qualification, much less desire, to be anyone else's conscience, as I have enough problems with my own. In some way or another, I am always the target of my rants.

If I may be permitted a lighter note, I'm reminded of the classic, "If anything we said can be taken in two ways, and one of them makes you sad or angry, we meant the other one." :)

Gauntlets said...

Oh, Jenny. We write only to amuse ourselves. This is a blog, not a textbook, tome, or manifesto, and should thus be taken only as seriously as it is permanent. We aren't judging you, dear lady, or anybody else, which is really the penumbra of this particular post, as I read it.

Don't cry. Life is too short and far too ridiculous to be taken so seriously. ;)

Hannah said...

I have to agree with Jenny. Those of us who have gone through miscarriages, infertility struggles, 46-hour labor and deliveries, post-partum depression, and such a severe shortage of milk supply that even a hard-nosed lactation consultant eventually threw up her hands and told me to quit and switch to formula after four months of torture for both me and one of my babies, or if you have had these "baby days" much easier or more pleasant, then you maybe don't know how you or your husbands sound to those of us who have had things a bit more difficult.

It seems from this blog that the only vocation open to me as a premenopausal woman is pregnancy and motherhood. Yet, I have other demands on my time and skills.

I am one of those "two and done" mothers you seem to look down upon. I do not, contrary to some of the things written here, get misty eyed over other people's babies or wish to be pregnant again. Through His grace, God has given me two wonderful kids. You seem to ignore the passages about putting God to the test in your stressing "one more" child.

By the way, isn't Onan more about the line of the Savior than about birth control? I agree that some methods of birth control are sinful, but perhaps you folks take this a wee bit too far.

I wish you well but won't be reading here again. I hope that you can continue to encourage each other. I would just please ask that you not look down your noses at those of us whose situations are different from yours.