With all the classes, books, products and plans that preoccupy expecting parents, one very important aspect of this life-changing experience usually slips under the radar: how will having a child affect their faith?
Before the baby arrives, thinking and praying through some common spiritual changes and struggles new parents face will better equip couples for their impending new way of life.
So, between wishing, trying, birth classes and gift-registering, new parents—and those who hope to be parents one day—should consider these three essential spiritual aspects of bringing a new life into this world:
You Will Be Reminded That You Are First a Spiritual Being, and So Is Your New Child
Human beings are spiritual, whether they believe in God or not. From beginning to end, the Bible traces spiritual formation of individuals in history and emphasizes the primacy of life in the Spirit (for example, in Genesis 5:1, 1 Samuel 16:7, Psalm 73:26, Matthew 10:28 and Revelation 3:17).
It can be mind-blowing that this vital reality largely gets ignored: bringing a new spirit into the word is a profoundly spiritual passage of life for the new mom and dad.
We live in a world saturated by humanist philosophy grounded in two centuries of Darwinian thought that have demoted humanity’s existence to not-too different from the family pet.
Over and over, the Bible tells a different story. Artful uses of heart, mind, soul and strength paint a rich picture of how humans are, in fact, spiritual beings and can personally relate to God (Deuteronomy 10:12-13, Mark 12:29-31).
Taking the time to study and understand what that means for yourself, and your growing child, will instruct you in ways never before imagined.
You Will Learn a New Level of Self-Sacrifice
There are countless stories to be told about 20-hour labors, stitches and failed epidurals. But the most painful part of bringing a life into this world doesn’t happen in the hospital bed—it is the ripping away of your own self-centered desires.
When I was a pre-teen, my best friend’s mom once said: “Everyone should have a child. It gets you out of yourself.” I thought, “What’s so bad about being ‘in yourself?’” I wanted to indulge myself—experience, explore, travel!
But adulthood—whether it is the biological clock or meeting the perfect partner—can change those feelings. When I got older, I realized my friend’s mom was right. Having a child will get you out of yourself, if you will let it. And while a wrenching process, self-denial is also deeply liberating.
The painful letting go of control and selfish desires prepares for an eternity of holding on, of clinging to a loving God and relying on His forces in Heaven that are fighting for you.
God will teach you through suffering to deepen your heart and connection with Him. You will cling to Him because, as the God of the universe, He is your only hope. And while the actual act of suffering may not be enjoyable, the benefits can be savored (Romans 5:3-5).
You Will Encounter Spiritual Warfare
Raising kids is difficult for many reasons, and it can be hard on your faith, too. A brand new family is a major source of concern to the enemy, and you may see the evidence in his desperate attempts to crush it.
Perhaps nothing is as threatening as a new spirit in this world, fresh from the breath of God. Nothing spells promise for God’s plan like a newborn baby and the new family formed around it. Your marriage is the lynchpin, an outpost of promise, and it will be tested for all it is worth.
The biggest fights my husband and I ever had were in those early days over decisions like sleeping methods, eating times and when to let go and find a sitter so we could have time together. It’s easy to get sidetracked on these less important matters by constantly fighting to prove you are right.
When your spouse snaps at you about the garbage, or says something hurtful—unintentionally or not—just see it for what it is: A tired soul worked on by the forces within and the dark forces without. If you feel menaced in this new phase, it is because you are being menaced (Ephesians 6:10-12).
But as Jesus would say, “take heart,” because His victory is everywhere (John 16). Your new creation, this baby and mom and dad—your family—has become a major force for good in God’s world. The enemy doesn’t like that, but he is no match for the one who lives in you or for prayers whispered in His name (1 John 4:4). Just take Jesus’ advice and live one day at a time.
The seismic wave of the spiritually profound time when a child is born will reverberate throughout eternity. And, if time is taken to pause and sink into it, the impact it can have on a new parent’s faith can be just as powerful. Bringing a new life into this world is so much more than learning to change diapers and survive on no sleep. It can be a way to draw closer to God, more than ever before thought possible.
Callie Grant heads Graham Blanchard Inc., which creates board books for children and families growing up in God. See the books and other parent resources at grahamblanchard.com