Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Having It All? Or Giving It All?

I read the start of two different articles in the current issue of "Time" (I would have had to pay to read more, and I didn't want to do that!)

One was about the people that want to "have it all" by not having children.  Good luck with that.  The thing is, you can indeed have fulfillment in life without having children.  But you can't find fulfillment in self serving.  If you are avoiding having children SO THAT you can sleep when you want, travel when you want, make/save lots of money, have adventures and experiences, relax, chase that career alllllll the way to the top, I'm going to go ahead and guess that at some point it'll all fall short.  You'll get insomnia, you'll realize that traveling is great... but now what? Money can be lost quickly, or you find that spending it all doesn't fill the hole in your heart, and the career can either end or you realize that you were so busy working you never started living. Or, you'll have it all and it still won't be enough.

Guess what.  I get a lot of those things (not the lots of money, because my career doesn't have a top dollar earning potential at the top rung of some ladder) and they're nice, but they're side things.  I would give them up in a heartbeat for the chaos and the noise and all the insanity of having a large family.  I wouldn't love the poop, snot and vomit, nor would I enjoy the fact that my introverted self could never find enough time to recharge.  But they would be so worth it.

Fulfillment doesn't come in having it all and getting it all and avoiding as much pain and unpleasantness along the way as possible.  It certainly doesn't mean going after what I want, when I want it.  Fulfillment is found in recognizing this one important truth: "It's not about me."  If I don't get what I want (husband, children, etc.) but I use my time and my pain and my life for whoever is in my life, then I will find fulfillment.  I will still be able to die to myself and give it up for someone else (not that I always do, but the opportunity is there).

If I do eventually get married and have to die to myself in whole new ways, it will also be beautiful and I will (sometimes remember to) offer up the things that I hate- like poop and pee and vomit and lack of sleep and privacy- (and hope that I haven't complained so much that there's not much of worth left).  Either way, there are ways of giving of myself than I ever thought were possible. And that is where the fulfillment is for any of us, whether we have children or not.  Whether we make all the money and travel to all the places.

If I seek fulfillment in giving up myself then I will be able to find happiness in all circumstances. Not always, but eventually.  If I seek fulfillment in having it all, it will never be enough.

I was going to write about the other article, too, but I think that's enough for now. Besides, I'm tired and have no idea if any of this makes sense but I'm not about to do anything drastic like reread it and make corrections.


  1. I haven't read that article, but I'm okay with that because it would probably just make me sad. I remember when I married my husband. We were young and we thought just having each other was enough, and we didn't think having children was something we would pursue. we are and I couldn't imagine my life in any other way. And I think of everything I've "given up" to have the family that we have and I realize that it's all so material and in the end it wouldn't matter anyway. But the souls of my children -- will live on for eternity (of course that's what we Catholics believe) and I won't care that I didn't have tons of money if/when I am in the presence of God with my children.

  2. WOW! This is such a great post. You should send THIS to Time so they can publish it. This is, essentially, the meaning of life. That no matter what our situations or circumstances, we can use our lives to sacrifice for others...and THAT is the most blessed vocation to which we all are called.

  3. I know some people like the ones the article talks about, the ones that want it all. I also know a couple of the ones who have had it all (the material things). The latter is not very happy. You know, they're in that phase where they have come to realize that they have had it all and now they're just alone. And like you said, it's not that a person can not be childless and happy, it's the fact that material things alone don't make you happy. There must be something else.

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  5. Deep down in my heart I think all this hoopla about this article and the same sex marriage crazinessis a result of our culture not having a good approach to vocation. We aren't able to fully accept that its okay to be single, to be gay, to be married without kids, to be married with kids, to be married with one kid, etc. God has a plan for us all and if kids aren't in the picture then material wealth and power and travel don't have to take the place of them in order to be an acceptable member of society. I wish we (myself included) could use our imagination better when it came to vocation and include all types instead of one- married with kids. Then maybe we wouldn't have all these people running around feeling like they aren't worthy (myself included)and having to prove themselves in idolatrous ways. Being rooted in a good prayer life and surrounding oneself with loving people helps. Okay- my rant is over. Sorry I haven't been commenting lately- I've been reading though!!!!!

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  7. This is such a beautiful reflection. Having it know what? We all die in the end! What about that? Even those perfect days when everything is going right...well, they end. Every one of them. What you wrote here expresses so beautiful the Christian paradox: "He who loses his life with save it...Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it's but a single grain..." etc. Thank you for sharing your thoughts - they're great.

    1. I hope it's clear I'm cranky about the article you referred to, not your post =)

  8. As a person who spent the last week traveling (for work) ... I think traveling is over-rated. People who save and decide that travel is a fulfilling life ... I just want to come home!
    You hit the nail on the head with your post! Time sometimes has articles that make me so angry too.

  9. So straight forward and well said! Thanks for your beautiful honesty and candor.

  10. So straight forward and well said! Thanks for your beautiful honesty and candor.