In the summer, Elis and I are going to be celebrating our ten year wedding anniversary. It comes up quite a lot in conversations at home as we have quite differing ideas on how we might mark such a momentous occasion. All my ideas tend to revolve around exotic holidays and, well, his ideas don’t.
As we approach this milestone in our life together, it obviously coincides with the imminent arrival of our longed for baby. For more than half our married life together we have been hoping, trying and dreaming of being parents.
In that time I’ve become a bit of a parent voyeur. Observing my friends and family (sorry folks!), noticing how people in my church, community, the wider society are parenting. Taking it all in and mulling it over. Subconsciously and consciously beginning to consider what parenting might look like for us. Even when being parents seemed like the furthest dream we could have.
And I’ve started to realise something that was living deep down in me.
A strange fear. Fear that if I was able to have a child, I might fall into the same pattern that seems to be prevalent in our society, in our churches. That I might make an idol of my child.
So, I’m writing this blog post on the eve of my due date because I don’t want that fear to come to fruition. I want to be accountable.
Let’s be clear, when I say I might make an idol of my child, I mean placing that child at the centre of my universe therefore shifting God to the side. Being more concerned about my child than my relationship with God. Placing my hopes and dreams on this baby instead of into the hands of my Maker. Putting my identity in the role of mother instead of in my place as a child of God. Expecting my baby to fulfil me and not seeking the life in all its fullness that I’ve been promised. Losing sight of the world and people beyond my bubble.
I think I am susceptible to falling into this trap because when you’ve wanted something so badly, for so long, you can’t help but allow it to grow in importance, to fill so much of your heart and mind. And it is a good thing to desire.
But it should not be an idol. It is not healthy and it is not biblical. It is an unreasonable weight of responsibility to put on a child, to be my focus of worship.
So what is the alternative?
My hope is to keep perspective. To remember the journey we have been on to reach this point. To accept the gift of this child and give them back to God as we promise to care for them to the best of our ability. To try and be role models to the child, knowing we will fail and fall short but being willing to attempt to show them what life in all its fullness looks like. To remain a faithful friend, colleague and community member with a heart for others. Looking outwards to see other people’s brokenness and allowing my heart to be touched by their stories. Ensuring our child knows they are unique but not more important than every other person. Allowing our child to fail and face disappointment but being there to help them up, dust them off and remind them that life can be tough but they do not have to face it alone.
Having waited such a long time for this experience, I’m going to enjoy it. And it is going to be a daily decision to not make an idol of my child but to appreciate the precious gift and keep it in perspective. I’m grateful for the many people in our lives who understand where we are coming from. Who will support us, who have been such wonderful examples to us of parenting and have shown that it is possible to be grateful for the gift of a child without idolising them.