I can exist as a female called to ministry, at a church that hasn’t figured out how they feel about women in leadership. It may not be fun - or sustainable - but I can hold that space and I can do it.
I can tell myself that I live with an open hand, when in reality service is an afterthought. I may be deceiving myself - but I can do it.
I can believe in God's uncontrolling love, yet respond to God out of a place of fear. It demonstrates an incongruity of belief and practice - but I can hold that space and I can do it.
But my 11-month-old baby can’t. She doesn’t understand cognitive dissonance. Sure, it’s part of my job to teach her this and other logical/rhetorical skills but even when she’s able to grasp deeper theoretical concepts, actions will still speak louder than words.
People say all kinds of starry-eyed things about how babies change your life, about how it’s the greatest thing you’ll do, and how nothing else compares. I don’t think you need to have a baby to change your life or do great things. I think you can be the best version of yourself with or without children. So imagine my unease when my tiny human started pulling at the edges of one of the things nearest to my heart: how I do theology.
Junia has already made me into much a much more practical theologian. Suddenly, the decisions I make, the incongruities that I live with, the way I practice my faith has very real implications. I consider everything a little more seriously: from whether I really want her seeing me eat that hidden piece of chocolate (if you don’t think this is theological - think again!), to whether I want to raise her in a church where she won’t see examples of diversity in leadership and laity.
My blog post about finding new ways to do Christmas might have given it away: I feel a very real and pressing need to understand the weight of my theology.
I don’t think I have to do away with all instances of cognitive dissonance nor have I figured out a way to make myself an instantly more consistent theologian. But it has made me think deeply about how I translate my theology into action.
Our family values of theology-in-action come directly from Micah 6:8:
DO justice, LOVE mercy, WALK humbly with your God. What is all the theologizing in the world worth if it doesn’t point to these action steps? This is the framework I want our family to exist within, and these are the actions I want Junia to prioritize and embody.
On the one hand, this is incredibly freeing. Many of the things it’s tempting to get hung up on as a parent just don’t fit into this framework. On the other hand, it signals a weightiness to all we do and believe. Many of the things I do poorly as a person are called out in this short imperative.
So yes, I still think you can be the best version of yourself whether you have kids or not. I think I could have still learned about the weight of my theology if it hadn’t come to me in the form of Child Waggoner. But because of Junia I now have a sense that I must steward my theology with greater awareness.