You can enter the most luxurious home, with huge rooms, decorated by the most renowned interior designer, filled with plush carpets, elegant furniture, and cutting edge technology and there will still be something glaringly absent: LIFE! You can enter a very modest home with worn-out furniture and dirty dishes in the sink, but one full of children, and there is LIFE everywhere. The contrast is stark! The first is sterile; the second is almost overwhelming in its abundance of LIFE. Sometimes those fated to live in the former buy dogs or cats, fill aquariums or tend plants to provide something living. It is a paltry substitute for a family and a home filled with LIFE.
There are many reasons beyond any individual’s control why they cannot have families—reasons of health, emotional condition, cultural norms, or finances. Many live the most worthwhile lives without children—we do not measure George Washington’s contribution by his family. Because of compassion those blessed with large families do not want to contrast their blessed situation to those without. But their silence is dangerous.
The danger is illustrated perfectly in Aesop’s Fable of “Sour Grapes.” A fox saw some luscious grapes hanging from a tree limb above his head. After trying again and again to reach them, jumping as high as he could without success, he finally gave up and went on his way, exclaiming, “I am sure they were sour.”[i] We hear now—in our decayed culture—the same refrain: that children and families are somehow “sour.” When those who know, those blessed with LIFE, are convinced beyond words that they are the sweetest fruit of all. Because so many have failed to jump high enough does not change the sweetness of the grapes.
When a baby is born there is a glow around the mother. There is no experience to equal it. Delivery is difficult at best. But what success can compare with creating a new LIFE with its unlimited potential. Never again will the new mother doubt whether or not she has achieved something worthwhile in life. Each Mother has fulfilled the crowning function of all life in bringing forth new life. At the deepest, even biological level of her being, she knows she has achieved a form of immortality. It is an experience reserved for mothers that no other experience can even come close to matching. Ask any mother.
Within hours of birth, the tiny infant—perfectly formed and glowing with new life—is nursing. In the most compelling way, the mother knows that her child’s LIFE—that most precious LIFE—is wholly dependent upon her. Again, there is no human experience to match it. It is unique to motherhood. To see her baby grow and flourish from the sustenance she provides is such a powerful proof of her own worth. What an affirmation of her value. It is true that millions upon millions of mothers give birth and nurse their children, from one corner of the globe to the other, but that does not detract from the miraculous wonder each time it occurs. The fact that the sun has come up for millions upon millions of days does not lessen its magnificence.
As the baby is nourished, and loved, and learns the challenging lessons of how to eat, digest, and sleep, the parents begin that life-long, ever-changing, ever challenging, ever fulfilling relationship with their own child. It requires sacrifice on their part from the very start. But there is no experience like holding your own baby in your arms. There is no experience like the baby’s first smile—when parents know the baby recognizes them and is happy because they are there.
That feeling is multiplied in a home of many children. When the father comes home from work there are little ones rushing to greet him, hugging him around the knees and shouting for joy. No one, anywhere, will greet a man as a good father is greeted at home. The floor may be covered with toys, there will be school projects littered across the kitchen table, there will be constant demands for help on this or time for that, there will be arguments, even fights among siblings, but most of all there will be LIFE! Everywhere you turn, children running, pushing, talking, singing, playing, smiling, shouting. It becomes a whirlwind of happiness—not because everything is neat and orderly or everyone is perfectly behaved, but because it is a scene bursting with LIFE. As the Psalmist so beautifully expressed it: “Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, . . . “(Psalms 127:3 – 5)
As children grow their parents are drawn into ballet lessons, violin recitals, homework, high school choirs, drama, and sports—that never-ending procession of activities that single adults never experience. Parents get to relive the joys of childhood and teenage years through their children. The LIFE of the children spills over to enrich the lives of all in the family. You see mother surrounded by tall, handsome, and strong sons; or chatting in the kitchen, sharing the joys of homemaking with beautiful daughters. You see father with an arm around the shoulder of his child, encouraging, advising, and warning—concerned with someone who matters more to him than himself. It is a type of heaven on earth. Then comes that stage when children are dating, courting, marriage and finally—like fireworks in the sky—grandchildren. The joy is repeated, but magnified! LIFE seen from one generation away is even more precious and rewarding—if that is possible.
The list is endless: late night talks, pillow fights, days at the beach, holiday picnics, birthday parties, graduations, even family funerals when loved ones gather together to celebrate the life of one they love—a shared love and admiration that binds the generations of a family together. It is undeniable that raising a family demands all that the parents have to give, and more, and it is undeniable that children can sometimes cause piercing disappointment. Families are an investment. Like stocks, they go up and down. But if you can hold on through the troughs, the returns are unmatched. And how pitiful to be alone at your own funeral.
As old age comes, all success other than family fades. What were once heralded achievements at work are unknown to a new generation. Memorabilia from world travel, awards, even clothing is put into storage or given to charity. Memories dim. It seems that the memories that persist, those most deeply etched in us, are those of family—a testament to its ultimate importance.
Parents who have weathered so many years together, experienced such a depth of life, become bound inseparably. The love that brought them together, that created LIFE in the first place, is now reinforced with the respect they have earned from year upon year of shared sacrifice and success. It is a crowning blessing. They both know—in their roles as mother and father—that their different, but complementary viewpoints, have been essential to the family. They are a team, fulfilling the purest and best intent of Nature. They have created a family and filled it with LIFE.
Many fail to achieve it. It is the great challenge to do so. Many, for reasons beyond their control, are unable to accomplish it. But that doesn’t change the fact that the sweetest fruit of life is a family full of LIFE. How tragic, how misdirected, are those who miss out on the true purpose of living because they choose not to have a family! How sad that their own lives never experience the joys, the fulfillment, the triumph of LIFE—creating, nurturing and rejoicing in it. Women who substitute careers for motherhood live out their lives without LIFE. Men who reject fatherhood never experience true adulthood. Real men aren’t identified by their tattoos. Real men get their children through college and protect their homes from the sleaze of a decadent culture. Most appalling of all are those who encourage abortion—choosing death over LIFE! Has any act ever been more repugnant to true womanhood? The very essence of womanhood is creating and nurturing life, not snuffing it out. Has any man failed more miserably to protect his offspring than those who sponsor abortion? How would earlier generations—who sacrificed all to protect their posterity—judge ours? Fortunately the future belongs entirely to those who choose LIFE!
Here’s to LIFE! Here’s to family! Celebrate it! Rejoice in it! Protect and nurture it! Strengthen and encourage it! That is what government is for.