By Caleb Keith –
I vividly remember the comments, advice, and criticism of pretty much everybody I encountered when I was preparing to get married. The most common response to this information was, “How old are you?” or “I hope you know what your getting into.” Many others asserted I was throwing my life and my freedom away while only a few responded joyously or with legitimate loving concern. Questions and comments like the examples above were shallow and general concerns about age and autonomy. Two years later I find myself under the same type of scrutiny as I eagerly await the birth of my daughter.
Instead of questions most people give me some grim news when they hear that I am about to be a dad. The most common messages I hear are, “Say goodbye to sleep” and “Your world is going to be destroyed.” Fair warnings to be sure, but I’ve heard them hundreds of times, and what I don’t hear is positive or hopeful news. I receive the occasional, “I hope you’re excited!” but paired with the other warnings, it seems that all I have to be excited for is the end of my sanity. I am tired of people telling me how scared I should be, when I am already scared shitless.
With all the negative questioning I received at the time of my marriage, and the fear mongering at the coming of my first child, I no longer wonder why young people abhor the adult world. Christians bemoan the degrading cultural milieu and the shallow sexual ethics which plague society. Yet, we fill our children’s heads with nothing but fear when it comes to getting married or having children. Why would I want a spouse if it is the end of my freedom, and why a child if it is the end of my world?
For every downside about being married young, I can think of five positive or valuable consequences. I view fatherhood in the same light. This is in thanks to my own father and mother, who rather than scare, have encouraged my wife and me, exciting us with the good to come from parenthood rather than the terror that might ensue. As I said earlier, I am scared shitless, but I am filled even more with happiness and anticipation. That happiness is rooted in Christ and the new life that is about to enter into His fold. I look forward to my daughter’s birth, but I am more excited about her baptism. In the promise of the Word, I get to share in true life with a child who God has called Erika and me to raise. In the face of fear, I rejoice in the comfort of our Lord and the blessings he brings through children. I encourage every reader to do the same. Let’s stop holding marriage and parenthood captive to fear, and instead emphasize how God works through such humbling and challenging vocations.