Friday, September 10, 2010

Abraham, Isaac, and Me

It's often said in the church that we will all have to endure a test of our faith like Abraham's. I'm going to set aside for a moment the discussion on whether or not that is hyperbole. It got me thinking. I've always had concerns with the story of Abraham and Isaac. What kind of God would ask someone to sacrifice his child?

Then I realized that in a very real way, God has asked that of me as well. I'm unmarried and I have no children. This is not because I desire a single and childless life. It is because, despite my pleadings, God wants me to be single right now. He asked me to sacrifice family life when He called me on a mission. He asked me to postpone childbearing for a few more years when he called me into academia. I'm itinerant right now because of the nature of my vocation, and that rootlessness is not conducive to family life. There's a common saying among female professors that the time between tenure and menopause is the only time the system allows for pregnancy.

I've never desired to be a stay at home parent, but I do want to have children. God has promised me children, but He has guided my life in such a manner that children cannot be a part of the plan right now. With each passing year that that is the case, the number of children I can bear drops. I'm old enough now that absent medical intervention, I likely will not have as many kids as I want.

God stopped Abraham from completing the sacrifice. In the end, he did not have to give up his child. That made me realize that God will do the same for me. I don't know if that means I'll get tenure expeditiously, if I'll have a longer period of fertility, or if I'll have the opportunity to adopt. All I know is that if I stay faithful, God will allow me the academic career He has called me to, and that I won't have to give up my children.

Note: This post is not the place for the "mommy wars". Any comments vilifying stay at home parents, working parents, or non-parents for the paths God has called them to and the life choices those callings necessitate will be deleted. Keep it civil.

1 comment:

Keith said...

You don’t know me, but I followed your blog from FMH. I find your mind interesting.
I wonder a lot about the Abraham/Isaac store, and just how accurate it is. Abraham came from a family where human sacrifice was normal, and though he broke from that to follow Jehovah, it is possible that in his old age he began to become senile and revert to his earlier days (this often happens today as well with the elderly). This possibly being the case, perhaps Abraham was confused and misinterpreted an inspiration from God as a commandment to offer his son as a death sacrifice (a command that spits in the face of every other murderous commandment the Lord had given, and knowing the Lord to be unchanging, it seems odd that He would command such a thing). However, before completing the task, the Lord stopped Abraham and blessed him for his inclination to follow what he supposed was the Lord's command. I am sure Isaac was blessed for his willingness to be the sacrifice (if he was actually willing). It just seems odd to me that the Lord would command something to return and say, "just kidding. I was only testing you. Good job. Here's a ram."

Relating this to the remainder of your post, I wonder how much of our lives has also been more self-led rather than heavenly led. I am not judging, nor am I trying to spit out some wisdom or advice about how you have lived and should live your life. God calls us in many ways, and gives us many different pathways we can follow. When we make our choice of which call we will follow, that choice dictates the blessings we will receive. I really don't think He gives us only one choice; otherwise there wouldn't really be much of a choice. You have chosen to follow academia. Others choose motherhood. My DW and I choose academia, then refused to procreate until we felt ready. Now years later we have three children, and I believe we are finished. I still feel we could have more, but DW has things she would like to be, I would like to see her regain her individuality and personality, and I don’t want her to be strapped at home as a SAHM if she doesn’t want to be. She’s depressed and losing herself in the children. She doesn’t like it, but she loves spending time with the children so it is a vicious cycle we both share. We love our girls, we would never give them up, we would never wish to have chosen differently, but now our path (by our choice) is going to divert from receiving the further blessings of a multitude of children to the blessings achieved by self-expression, self-identification and exploration, and the increased amount of time we will have with our current three children. I pray, ponder what the Lord wants of my life, and try and choose what is best. But ultimately I believe we must make our decision and go with it. Hopefully, as with Abraham, if we choose something crazy, the Lord will step in and save us from our error. Goodness I hope so.