Wait, You Take Your Baby Where?
“I can’t resent this baby.” – these are the words I said to Eric in late night confidence after I found out I was pregnant. Most women say that sentence as they process and “grieve” the passing of their old life and acceptance of their new life as a mother. But for me, that sentence was said as I tried to process how to balance the calling of God in my life for (international) missions with the calling in my life as a mother. I remember the uncertainty, the worry and the nervousness I felt in those first few months before I told my family, my friends, my supervisor at work…before I knew what it would be like to be a mother. Before I knew I could still do both.
I was so overwhelmed with emotions when I found out I was pregnant – joy, worry, nervousness, excitement and gratefullness. But something was nagging me in the back of my mind…I just couldn’t stomach giving up Haiti – I felt like God required this of me – to do this ministry, that it was His will… but then He gave me the marvelous, beautiful, life-altering gift of a child. And I was confused at how it was supposed to all fit together. It was a no-brainer the choice I would make if I had to choose between the two.
I quickly knew in my heart that God would work it out. I searched His will, I praised His name for the child that was in my womb and I decided to trust Him with abandon.
And here we are, over a year later, in Haiti with my chunky 8-month-old-man playing with his nanny. It isn’t always easy, but it’s worth every ounce of energy to make it work.
It’s funny to me the reactions of folks when they find out Edison tags along on our trips. Mostly responding with “You’re taking him with you?” (like we would just leave him on the front porch or something while we’re gone 😉
But the question isn’t always a verbal one. It comes in many many forms: body language, eyebrow raises, off-handed comments. The “you’re crazy” or “I know better than you” looks. And it often comes with a lot of judgement, and that is hard.
I guess for me, it isn’t that much of a question. I know God has called me to this ministry, but I am also a mother. I don’t have a spouse at home to keep my child, since by the grace of God we get to do this incredible life together. So he comes with us.
The lists are long as to the benefits of Edison coming with us and being with us in ministry. But mostly, it’s been incredible to see how our personal ministry has changed having Edison in tow. A friend of ours and mother of two boys on earth, one in the belly and one half-grown, wrote this on my FB wall the other day:
Just wanted to say I love how y’all haven’t let being parents deter you from following God’s will! For many parents, moving to Haiti would be out of the question with a young child but you all are doing His will and He will continue to bless!!
And while I tried to write her back, I realized my passion for this very subject. (sorry for the novel Lori) haha.
It was always a fear of mine that having kids would be a hindrance, but in fact, it’s been the opposite. Edison opens doors that we previously haven’t seen open. He draws out in people the nurturing, empathetic side and softens peoples hearts in a way only a child can. And through all of that, he preps and primes so many situations for the Lord to be known. As a child, he is innocent and fearless in presenting his own version of the Gospel everyday. Right now, that may just be in his smile and willingness to love anyone he comes in contact with, but it’s powerful nonetheless.
And that’s just a small glimpse of everything I wish I could write to you.
And when you think about the positives for Edison, it really hits home.
He’s growing up with a world perspective.
He’s learning to live out the Great Commission everyday.
He’s learning to embrace the beauty of differences – in language, in class, in skin color, in race, in all people everywhere.
He’s growing up learning to be flexible and social.
Is it difficult to have Edison travelling with us? Yes, of course. Babies make everything a little more complicated, right?
Is it hard when you can’t sleep as much at night? Yes, of course.
Are we completely exhausted on trips? Yes.
Is it difficult to coordinate help to watch Edison on trips? YES.
But is it worth it? A thousand times yes.
So can I give you a bit of unsolicited advice?
Don’t let your kids keep you from living out your mission. Maybe it’s necessary, for a time, for your mission field to look a little different than it has in the past. Maybe that means you don’t travel for a season. Maybe that means you aren’t actively serving in construction projects in Nicaragua, but instead you are serving a mission team in prayer at home or behind the scenes in other ways. Maybe that means you take on new roles in your home church or start up a new play-group for the single moms in your area.
And when you get to a new stage in life, bring them with you! The people I’ve seen most impacted on mission trips are kids around the ages of 8-12. Help shape their perspective while their minds are young and malleable (and remember, your mission field is always within reach – it is your home town, your work, your school, or a local coffee shop).
When your children grown up watching you living your mission, they will want to do it to.
And don’t let missions keep you from having children. This was me in the past. I was TERRIFIED that having a baby would mean that I would have to cross out this huge part of my heart. And maybe, in the future, I might need to–and that’s okay. I’m trusting that my path is fully His to mold. He has control of the wheel.
Just like my mentor, Ericka wrote to me recently:
Serving God changes through our various stages of life. We just have to find what works at that stage and never quit serving. I love watching your family be that example to others.
And as always, search for Christ’s will. You never know what He might have planned for you.
Well, that’s my two cents atleast. 😉