I have three boys and no girls. There are two years between each of my boys so there is a little bit of crazy and chaos everywhere we go. I am Asian, therefore, I look younger than my actual age. I live in the United States of America in 2019 where everyone speaks his or her mind freely with no thought to propriety or tact.
I receive the inevitable and unfortunately common questions and comments from friends, family, and random strangers.
“You sure have your hands full!”
“You don’t look old enough to have three kids!”
“Three boys? Gonna try for a girl?”
“Are you done? How many do you want?”
(About my youngest and third boy) “Was he your attempt at a girl?”
I have seen many statuses and articles revolving around these questions. It is creating an angry mob of mothers that just wants to be left alone or offered a friendly smile while wrangling preschoolers and toddlers and infants, oh my! Offense is taken by these questions, intentions are trampled upon, and moms everywhere wave the “mind your own business” flag high as we validate our families. There is such judgment surrounding motherhood now and this leads to confusion in relationships and discontent in our calling.
Might I suggest a different response to unwelcome questions regarding family size, timing, and gender distribution? Peace. The peace of God that overflows from you as you allow this fruit of the Spirit to flourish in your life. Peace in the knowledge of who you are in Christ. Peace in the knowledge that God has a plan and a purpose for your family. Peace for the sake of building and upholding community. Peace in the face of provocation.
Living in the Lord’s peace is having complete confidence in God. It is fully trusting that His way is better than our way. It is conceding our plans to His and not worrying about the opinions of anyone else. Paul writes, “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7) When our hearts and minds are guarded with the Lord’s peace, then we do not have to take offense at too personal of queries or insinuations that our family does not fit the expected mold. At salvation we are made a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17) and we are free from the burden of worldly expectations. We have peace in the knowledge of who we are in Christ.
We have peace in the knowledge that God has a plan and a purpose for our families. He has blessed us with the when, where, how, and who of our children. Even though much of this is outside of our control, some people will think we have children too soon while others think we waited too long. Some people will not agree with how many children we have or how close they are in age. Some people will discourage us with their comments on the genders of our children or with disparaging remarks on the hardships that come with that gender. We have peace knowing that children are a blessing from the Lord (Psalm 127:3) and that “The Lord gives strength to His people; the Lord blesses His people with peace.” (Psalm 29:11 NIV) When faced with those comments we can season our words with the peace of the Lord. Through the work of the Spirit, we can praise the Lord for His goodness in providing us children and thank Him for the opportunity to display His peace to others we encounter. We do not need the approval of men when we trust the Lord to accomplish His purpose for each member of our family.
We are called to live peacefully and to be peacemakers for the sake of the body and to be witnesses to the world (John 17:23). The Apostle Paul writes, “So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.” (Romans 14:19) Because of the work of Christ, we have the option not to react to an offense against us. Because of the work of Christ, we can choose to take up our crosses and follow Him (Luke 9:23). Because of the work of Christ, we can decide to focus on much larger issues than if our family doesn’t fit someone else’s opinion of what a family should look like. If we are seeking to make disciples of all nations and to promote mutual upbuilding, then we are able to respond peacefully to others and share how Christ has called us to minister to our children. We have peace for the sake of building and upholding community.
Peter also reminds us, “Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing… let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it.” (1 Peter 3:9, 11) Even if some questions or comments may be in poor taste, let us return positive and peaceful responses. Let us give the benefit of the doubt. Let us brush offense off our shoulders and put on the mantle of peace that passes understanding. Let us trust God in our calling of motherhood and not let anyone shake us. Let our families bless those who observe by living in peace with our family size, timing, and gender distribution. We do not need to walk away with hurt feelings, frustration, or anger but instead we can feel blessed by the opportunity to praise the Lord for His provision of our children and family.
Our approval does not come from others and their idea of correct family size, timing, or gender. We can have peace and not pain when we are asked when/if/why questions about our family. We can have peace and not panic when met with unwanted comments on our crazy, chaotic circus. We can smile at the truth in the statements and disregard any intentional or unintentional rudeness. We can rest in the peace of God and pursue peace with others regardless of our circumstance. “But Jesus looked at them and said, ‘WIth man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’” (Matthew 19:26)