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Apr 22, 2012

AdultBirth - Well Worth the Pain

In a recent sermon from Galatians 4, we heard of the apostle Paul being “in the anguish of childbirth” for his “little children” of the church. Our pastor suggested another term we may consider as parents – "adultbirth". If childbirth is the act of producing a child, adultbirth is the even longer process of producing an adult. Childbirth generally takes nine months and several hours to accomplish. Adultbirth may take 18 to 20 years to finally produce a young, but independent new adult. 

My pastor acknowledged that guys may be a little uncomfortable with the thought of birthing a child. And probably as a result, women bear the full burden of childbirth themselves. Hopefully they are helped through the process with the love and support of their husband by their side, but if you’ve ever been blessed to witness a birth, you know women alone bear the full painful responsibility of pregnancy and childbirth. 

But all parents, including fathers, are responsible for adultbirth, the long process of raising little children into healthy, responsible, loving adults. And just as childbirth can be a long, exhausting, and even scary process, so can raising the child into adulthood. But just as childbirth is ultimately well worth the pain to bring a new life into the world, parenting for all those years is also worth the effort to bring a fully grown adult into our world, prepared for what lays before them. 

Parenting, or adultbirth, can be challenging. For many men, being a father is both the most difficult thing they will ever do, and also the thing they feel most inadequate and least equipped to do. For starters, parents have to keep their children alive, from giving them the right medicine, to teaching our little boys not to jump out of the tree or pick up that snake, to picking out the safest car for them when they’re ready to drive. Parents have many sleepless nights, whether it’s sitting up all night comforting a sick baby, or sitting in the living room waiting for your teenager to finally come home. Parents are expected to know all the answers, from why do squirrels have bushy tails to why do I have to wait if I really love him. And parents have the constant responsibility to set a good example for their children in every way, to model Christ before their eyes every day, to display the fruits of the Spirit in their home, to say sorry when they fail at this, and then to hope that their children make better choices in life than they did when they were the same age. These and many more daily burdens are why most fathers have grey hair if they have any left at all. 

But parenting is also the most rewarding and worthwhile responsibility that a man or woman could pour themselves into. For starters, God places brand new, impressionable little souls under our care to lead and teach in the ways of righteousness. We get the privilege of being God’s primary instrument to evangelize and disciple new believers within the daily confines of our homes for roughly two decades. Each day, if we take the time to notice and appreciate it, we can watch a new human being develop right before our very eyes, growing each day in size, strength, maturity, knowledge, and wisdom. We get to witness a unique personality and sense of humor develop out of what was originally a helpless, mute, little baby. As parents we share in the pride and satisfaction of each new accomplishment, comfort and encourage after each new pain or heartache, and guide and lead through each new challenge. Finally, we get to pass on family legacies and traditions, to carry on our family name, to affect our world through the ongoing impact of our next generation. Being a parent is a blessing without compare and as any parent will confess, no matter how tired they may be by the end, well worth all the years of hard work and sacrifice. 

I’ll leave you with one final word of encouragement to all parents, but especially fathers. Some births are more difficult than others (and none are easy from what I’ve seen). But mothers know they can’t quit no matter how hard or painful it might get. They have to push through the pain and focus on their goal of bringing their new baby into the world. And parents, yes fathers too, have to push through the tough times and do what’s necessary to reach your goal, that of bringing about a new adult. A fully grown, responsible, God loving, ready to face the big bad world adult! And fathers can’t quit this task, no matter how hard it may get, no matter how much our kids still kick and scream to have their way, no matter how easy it would be just to retreat into the much easier worlds of career, sports, and self, leaving the hard work of parenting to our wives. No men, adultbirth is your job too, and according to the Bible, primarily your job, so don’t quit just because the birth pains double you over sometimes. There’s a new adult waiting to be born, and it’s up to you to bring them into the world.

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