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Saturday, August 11, 2012

Folk Tales | Birth Control

*Folk Tale Disclaimer: These are simply the reasons we chose to do the things we do. We absolutely do not condemn any other parenting decisions as we fully respect that God put specific kids with specific parents and those parents are the only ones fully responsible for their children. These posts are merely meant to be a window into our lives for those who'd like to peer in and to offer some first hand knowledge for people researching these subjects themselves. :) *

I was a teenager when I married Gabe. About a month from my 19th birthday, I was more interested in getting to see my boyfriend every day than having a baby. My new husband was busy in the Army and was even more opposed to the idea. We were young, we had time, we wanted to focus on "us" for a while. And to boot, you know how everyone has an opinion about this stuff (and insists on giving it to you)? Well, almost all of them included some version of "For Heaven's sake don't get pregnant."There was a whole list of various reasons to pick from: education, immaturity, financial insecurity, getting to know each other first... It made sense to us and seemed like wise counsel.

Now we've repented for our foolishness. Let me explain.
I don't think that what I am about to express is the final word on birth control or conception or marriage. What I do think - what we both think - is that we have been more strongly convicted of these things for our family than probably anything else. The bible doesn't explicitly state whether or not it's pleasing to God to prevent pregnancy so this is not a battleground I'm willing to bleed on. The debate over contraception is ancient and impassioned and I'm not trying to enter it. I am, however, going to share our journey as I believe it is relatable and maybe, just maybe, God will be able to use it to speak to another couple - even if they come to another conclusion.

So. The Teen Wife and the Fresh Faced Soldier. We were on top of the world. That first year of marriage was amazing. God granted us a peaceful, loving, innocent home for most of that first year; far from the strain others had warned us about, we experienced abundance. We started learning how to love each other sacrificially and we overcame real obstacles together.

Then he left for his 15 month deployment to Afghanistan. That was hell. We made it through that with not a few emotional, spiritual and mental wounds. Being married to an Idealist, our entire paradigm was being interrogated mercilessly because of convictions he was gaining  thousands of miles away. Neither of us was left unburdened. When he returned, the thought of starting a family was probably the furthest thing from our minds. We were in survivor mode. While marriages crashed and burned around us, we fought hard to keep breathe in our own.

A few months after we got to California the healing finally began. It was tedious, painful and terrifying. But as we emerged - stronger, closer, more honest - we started questioning our relationship as we questioned everything else. We no longer took for granted that we needed "us" time or that we were honoring God by preventing what He seems to think are nothing but blessings, gifts and rewards (talking about children here). Around the time we were beginning to feel convicted Gabe went to Afghanistan again (this time for 12 months).

While he was there more healing took place. As God revealed more to us about where we weren't trusting Him completely, the issue of birth control became obvious for us. We could no longer reconcile sex without the possibility of children since one of it's main purposes is to "multiply." We were not jumping up and down at the thought of having a child, but it was also no longer the worst thing we could think of. Our perspective was being corrected. Our {still future} children were a blessing and we were starting to see it. Now of course Gabe and I were literally separated by an entire planet so this new mindset was pretty easy to get behind.

When he returned home we were faced with a big, hot plateful of our own words. Now we had 2 deployments to work through (because as any military couple will tell you, a man brings home a lot more than some dust from the desert) and an uncertain future as Gabe decided where to go to school. But we trusted the Lord. We knew that if He was bringing us to our new conclusions, He would be faithful to supervise their consequences. We were certainly not "trying," but we were not really "not trying" either. In His patience God gave us a few more months alone, during which time both of our hearts, which had been changing individually while we were apart, became overcome with love and anticipation for our children together.

Finally we decided to "try." RJ's life began and the rest is on facebook! :) 

 Our journey led us to believe that children are a divine blessing. They are "arrows in the quiver of a man." They are crowns and rewards. We both feel grateful that we serve a loving God who lets us call Him Father and who graciously used our foolishness to our benefit. But we also believe that we missed out on blessing and more importantly, denied our Father something He deserved by using contraception. Only He knows whether or not we would have had children earlier, but our hearts were not fully with Him regardless and that is a painful and shameful reality. 

The more heavy truth (though no more damning) is that we used the Pill. The way it works is by keeping a woman's eggs from maturing and releasing. Generally, the bleeding you experience as a"period" is nothing more than your body reacting to the sudden drop in hormones (which is kind of freaky to me!) because it has been tricked into believing you're pregnant. However, sometimes a "breakthrough ovulation" may occur. This is extremely hard to detect so there is virtually no concrete information on it. When it does happen, however, the Pill has 2 more safeguards. The first is to change the consistency of the mucus in the cervix. This keeps sperm from entering. If that doesn't work, the Pill also changes the composition of the uterine lining so that an embryo cannot attach to it's mother and will pass through. Normally this is called a miscarriage or a chemical abortion. When you're on the Pill you don't know that anything happened. Being pro-life, Gabe and I are extremely regretful that we allowed even the possibility of aborting our children to be on the table. We didn't realize this, of course, but that was our own fault. We should have done more research before embracing such a method. Gabe feels especially responsible and regrets very much allowing me to put such abrasive and somewhat mysterious chemicals into my body.

Our hearts break at the thought of the sweet children we may have killed with our ignorance and our foolishness. We will never know if this happened so we are burdened with the possibility. It's something we want to carry so that when our children are grown and leaving our home to start their own we can relay to them the sober reality. Perhaps carrying a little bit of pain and a lot of remorse will prevent them from making a grave and foolish mistake.

Our gracious Father has worked everything out. We are filled with "joye" every day and so so grateful for the opportunity to guide His children. I have been completely overcome numerous times upon reflecting on His incredible grace. For many reasons we do not deserve this child - this lovely, vibrant, innocent child - but He has given her to us anyway. It doesn't change the past, but our great hope isn't in the things we enjoy in this life anyway. Our sweet girl is a constant reminder that He is faithful to those who seek Him, even in callowness. 

To close it up I thought I would answer retrospectively the main bits of "wisdom" we received about waiting to have kids.

  1. Education - mostly this was directed to me because Gabe was in the Army. But I knew I wanted to be a wife and a mother... More than that I knew even then that I was directed in Scripture to those roles. I don't need a degree to run a household. I had no real direction with school. Some people do, I didn't. I went because that's what you're supposed to do. It was a waste of time and money and further schooling would have been further waste. The only classes I'm glad I took are Philosophy and my photography courses... And remedial math. I needed that. lol But I could have done all of those as stand-alone courses.
  2. Life Experience - this was a well-worn reason why not to get married as well. And there is some good advice in that since in our culture an 18 year old usually isn't prepared to commit her life to serving another person (though in our culture many a 40 year old still isn't prepared...). But how does one gain life experience? By experiencing life! So while I definitely do see the truth in this I also see how it's used as an excuse. When you're committed, you're committed. If you have to learn the hard way you do it... Come to think of it, I think we all have to learn the hard way to some extent. Besides, no life experience prepares you for having a baby. It's a total game changer in the best way.
  3. Financial Stability - this still persists! Babies are expensive. They need diapers (well, we took care of that one), toys (though RJ is happy with a hairclip or an old phone), food (breastmilk is free!) and a plethora of other things that cost a lot of money, but are much less necessary than one is told. But even if they cost a million dollars, my question to the Christian is how much do you think God will provide? I believe Jesus' words about examining the world around us and finding peace  about our provision. Our Father loves us! And He has a most tender heart toward little children so what do I care what they cost? If He blesses us with a child He will be faithful to provide for her. It doesn't mean we should not work to bring in an income, but it does mean that we should rest easy at night no matter the state of our bank account. He says He'll provide all we need so He will. Bottom Line. 
  4. "Enjoy each other" - this was the most oft said and our own biggest reason we held off having kids. I wish it weren't. Honestly, any of the other ones would have been a little more excusable. We didn't arrive at this justification through prayer and seeking God's wisdom. We used it because it's what the rest of the world uses and we wanted to be "free" for as long as possible. Kids were a burden to us then. We wanted to be able to just "pack up and go" on a whim. Truthfully, we probably do more now than we did before - not because we didn't do things before, but because RJ makes everything more fun! I nursed her while hiking snow covered switchbacks for crying out loud; my hardcore status has gone through the roof. ;P The marriage of our youth has been incredible, but since having her we've realized that it would not have been in any way tied down if we started having children sooner. It would have taken us soaring. We lament not realizing this sooner.
  5. "Get to know one another" - along the same lines as the former... Though we thought that was silly even then. I hear people advise young couples to wait to have children until they understand each other better so they will know what to expect and how to work together. This is the same logic used to apologize for co-habitating before marriage. If you marry someone you better damn well know what kind of person he is. In our culture it is left up to the individual to find a mate. Therefore, fleece that person out before you say, "I do." And what if you follow this advice and use your first years to get to know your spouse and then decide you don't really like your choice? Can any other person be a co-parent with you? By it's very nature marriage will provide endless learning opportunities; you will learn daily how to show love, how to handle conflict, how to feel secure, how to be vulnerable and how to work together. That doesn't change when you have kids. Class is still in session. Children are a part of the learning, not merely the beneficiaries. Being a parent isn't really something you can prepare much for anyway... You just seek God and live your life. 
  6. "If God wants you to get pregnant He can override birth control" - that is true. However, if God wanted you to win the lottery, but you never played a ticket He might move on to someone else (not trying to say anything about gambling). It's also worth noting that God has closed up many women's wombs when He didn't want them to conceive so if we are going to gather under the umbrella of God's sovereignty, why are we applying an insurance to it? We either trust God or we don't. In fact, this is probably the least reasonable bit of "wisdom" on the subject. I do believe in God's protection and design - I trust that He made us in accord with His plan and that He can (and does) work in individual lives on a daily basis. So my body can produce a child and we can "multiply" as He intended, while at the same time our King can decide to negate His design whenever He wants so that the Sedberrys will not have children. He has made it abundantly clear that He is intimately aware of us so I trust that all of that is good. 

An Alternative "Birth Control"

If God leads us to be a bit proactive in preventing a pregnancy for some reason, we would employ the Natural Family Planning Method (that is, paying close attention to the wife's signals to see when she is ovulating in order to lessen the chance of pregnancy). As long as both spouses are in agreement (not depriving one another) it seems totally legitimate to us! Because we believe that God can open and close up wombs, I think there is something to be said for simply trusting God's timing, but we also believe that God understands our sensitivities and made some things quite obvious for a reason - and I'm not so foolish as to believe He would never ask us to hold off. The most important factor is whether or not our hearts are fully trusting our Father. If we are, everything else will fall into place. :)


  1. I am so blessed by your hearts for the Lord. It is very few who will stand firm on what God has told them to do, because it isn't an easy road. God promises that trials and persecution will come about, but through that if we persevere God is perfecting us for His glory. I m so blessed that I had the opportunit to sit with you as we all decided to "choose" to be the helpmeet to our husbands that God has designed us to be. You may be younger than some, but the wisdom God has given to you is abundant and I encourage you to share it and "teach" women what God has shown you about our roles as women. Bless you dear sister in Christ

    1. Thank you so so much for your encouragement, Dawn. I feel so blessed by our short time together and your heart for the Lord. I hope we will be able to continue to encourage each other despite the distance - thank God for the internet! :)

  2. This is amazingly written and I am in whole agreement. Thanks for sharing this!


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