Today’s generation of young women has more opportunities than ever before. For the young Christian woman, however, tension can develop when the desires for career seem to come into conflict with the pressure to have children. The frameworks for how to be an obedient Christian woman offered to us by society and the church are often rigid and unsatisfying. These frameworks often don’t account for the unique ways we have been gifted and the callings we feel God has placed on our hearts. The opportunities we have thus come with questions—we know what we can do, we often know what we want to do—but what should we do?
In today’s trending article, Relevant Magazine writer Eddie Kaufholz tries to help one such woman wrestling with this dilemma. Relevant’s weekly advice column question came from a 28-year-old, currently working in a career that is “incredibly satisfying” to her. However, people around her are “dropping subtle (and not so subtle) hints that maybe it’s time to start thinking of having children.”
She writes candidly, “I guess what I’m asking you for is some perspective on the tension I’m feeling of not wanting to "settle down" and have kids yet, but rather focus solely on the work I’m feeling called to do.”
This is a question on the hearts of a lot of my peers. How do we navigate a culture that puts such an emphasis on having and raising children, if the calling God seems to be giving us is career oriented?
1. You don’t have to have children. “The goals in life, and the actions that are mandated of us as followers of Jesus have very little to do with what we make, the work we do or even the children we have,” writes Kaufholz. “What’s required of us is to lean into the work of justice, mercy and humility. And what should order our steps is a deep concern for our neighbors and a palpable love of God our Father.”
2. People aren’t going to understand. “Grace will be required for people around you as you do what’s right in God’s economy, while slightly counter-cultural in your community of parents,” writes Kaufholz.
3. Revisit your decision. The right decision now might not be the right decision 5 years from now. “I would also make it a habit to revisit the idea with God every once in a while to confirm that what you're thinking still aligns with what God’s planning,” says Kaufholz. Being sensitive to God’s leading in our lives means intentionally taking time to approach God in silence and in prayer, and to actively listen for the Spirit’s guidance in our lives.
As a Christian community, we must be careful not to elevate motherhood too highly—to do so might imply that bearing and raising children is the only way for a woman to impact the Kingdom. And conversely, it puts undue pressure on Christian moms to be “all the moms,” which as iBelieve writer Christine Hoover notes, results in “an acute awareness of all our failures, a gnawing and ever-present feeling that we’re not good enough, especially when we cannot imitate what we imagine other moms to be.”
“Being a mom is hard enough without the added pressure that this just might be THE THING we were made to do,” iBelieve contributor Cara Joyner writes. “I have three sons. They are my most brilliant treasure and being their mom is by far the greatest honor of my life. It is the hardest, most rewarding, most important work I will ever do, but it is not my highest calling. It is not my sole purpose in this world. If that’s true, if we were made for something even greater than the work we do raising our children, what else is there? Long before we were moms, we were known, loved and wanted. We were loved to the point of death on a cross and adopted as daughters of the King. THAT is our identity. We are mamas, but we are also daughters who have been anointed to do Kingdom work in this broken world.”
When we navigate what it means to be a faithful Christian woman with this worldview, we can see a woman’s value and meaning comes not only in her childbearing years but over the course her entire life. And doing so helps each woman make more satisfying and sustainable choices suited to the unique situations, giftings, talents, and callings God has given her.
Kelly Givens is the editor of iBelieve.com.