March 30, 2017
God’s grace and the anxiety of bearing a child
There appears to be an increasing concern today among young women regarding pregnancy. One reason for this is that women now get married and conceive at an older age. The average age of a mother’s age at first childbirth in Greece is 31 years old (the top of the list out of 141 countries*). The average age in most other Western countries is approximately 27.5 years old (i.e. between 25 and 30 years of age).
This factor is a root of much anxiety and has complex ramifications: 1) the choice and possibilities of finding a mate; 2) the stress placed on the couple’s relationship before and during pregnancy 3) the bioethical concerns that often arise in conceiving and being tested during pregnancy; 4) the underlying concern of the health of the child, particularly due to the mother’s age; 5) the parents’ physical endurance in caring for the child after birth and during its developmental years; 6) the parents’ health as they go through midlife and beyond. These anxieties and concerns become even more stressful when one or both parents feel inadequate as a person to manage the difficulties brought on by life situations. Moreover, they become more complex when the parents feel frustration and anger because they have to transcend their individual narcissistic “needs and desires” in order to meet the needs of their family.
These concerns should not take away the beauty and joy of childbearing! The Virgin Mary surely felt a disquieting apprehension at the prospect of the awesome responsibility presented to her by the Archangel, yet she willing offered herself in humility to God’s grace by saying: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord! Let it be according to the will of God”. If we as parents are able to say this, then we will be able to put our anxieties and our personal insecurities in prospective of God’s grace. Actually, we will have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, we will make our requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).