Myth: “Having a child will make me happy.”
My other friends couldn’t believe I went for it. But why not? The professional single-mom-by-choice is hardly the pariah anymore. We live in an age of technological wonders that give women options they never had before. I have a successful business, a large home with room for a child, good friends and stability. I’m at a good place in my life for the “next” thing, and a baby just seemed to fit the need.
I’m the same as most any other woman. God gave me this nesting urge, so do I just ignore it until I find the right man? Set my sights on other goals? I deserve to be happy as much as the next person. Unfortunately, contentment seems to always be on the next horizon. When I bought my new home, I thought that would satisfy me. It did for a while, and then I resumed the search and focused on a baby. This nagging feeling of incompleteness is undeniable. I’m tired of waiting for all the circumstances to be “right.”
I was talking with some other moms at my birthing class last week, and they asked me why I decided to have a baby as a single mom. Sure, I think it would be ideal if I were married and decided to start a family. But I can’t see why experiencing the next best thing is a bad idea if it makes me happy. I told them I wanted to hear the sound of a baby’s laughter in the house at Christmas. I wanted some central pleasure to bring my family together and build our unity around. I wanted to give a baby all the things I never experienced when I was a child.
I’m bringing life into this world—a baby I can love and one who will love me back unconditionally. I’ll be there for him and build my life around him. He will never know what it’s like to be lonely. What could possibly be wrong with that?
The search for happiness and significance is central to what it means to be alive. As long as we’re breathing, we will deeply desire happiness and meaning in our lives. God created us to crave significance and to know with certainty that we matter, so that he could provide himself as our heart’s one, true fulfillment. However, we tend to fill in the blanks with any number of pursuits. “Having _________ will make me happy.” More money. Success. A relationship. A home.
So we try everything to bring closure to the idea that if we only had that one thing, then we would be ultimately and finally happy. And we’ll get that one thing any way we can. It’s why Sarah pushed for her maidservant, Hagar, to carry Abraham’s baby instead of waiting on God.
Mind you, it’s not that having a child won’t make a person happy. It certainly will! God’s pleasures and blessings, such as the precious gift of a baby, do bring our lives a measure of happiness—some extraordinarily so. However, only God’s love will satisfy us for a lifetime of joy, which surpasses mere happiness (see Nehemiah 8:10). Depending on him to satisfy the elusive search for happiness enables us to enjoy life’s pleasures and enhances our ability to be happy. Otherwise, we may expect a baby, a job or a relationship to meet a level of satisfaction that created things were never designed to bring to us. Then, we soon find we are disappointed with our unmet expectations, and the desire for a second child or a new job or a new relationship becomes the only feasible antidote. And the cycle begins again.
“The Bible talks plentifully about joy, but it nowhere talks about a ‘happy Christian.’ Happiness depends on what happens; joy does not. Remember, Jesus Christ had joy, and he prayed ‘that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.’”
“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”