Our family lives in a very weird part of America. Unlike the majority of families in our country with their 1.9 children, it’s not uncommon to see minivans unloading anywhere between four and seven kids at our local parks. Some parents even drive 12-passenger vans to accommodate their large families. Our community is very pro-family and that generally means having lots of kids.

I never planned on having seven kids, personally. I would be happy with four, maybe five. I dream of having at least two boys and two girls, but I’ve always assumed our family would be a bit smaller than the local average. And I’ve been OK with that. My husband and I were pretty young when we got married, but not as young as some, so a lot of our friends had a head start on us. But the family we dreamed of having was still pretty big, regardless of the local average.

RELATED: I Dreamed of a Big Family But God Had a Different Plan

Our first was born less than 10 months after our wedding day. Our second was born two and a half years later.

But our third still hasn’t come.

Nearly three years after our daughter’s birth, we’re still waiting and hoping. And with every day that passes, it gets harder and harder to ignore the looks, the questioning glances. My baby is not a baby anymore, so when’s the next one coming? Where is the pregnant belly?

The only thing that hurts more than those looks is my sweet son’s voice when he asks me, “Why hasn’t God given me a little brother or sister?”

It kills me that I don’t have an answer for him.

Because really God, why haven’t You given my son a little brother or sister yet? Why haven’t You answered our prayers? Why haven’t You given us what we’ve asked for, begged for? Aren’t You listening to us? Aren’t we supposed to be open to life, to be willing to accept children as the gifts they are meant to be? We just want to do Your will, so why won’t You let us?

I don’t have a good answer for my son. The answers I do give him sound hollow in my ears, and I’m not sure he buys them. But those answers still ring with truth, even if that truth is hard to swallow.

Maybe God isn’t giving us a child because it’s not His will for us right now. Maybe He sees something in our future that we have no idea is fast approaching. Maybe now is not a good time for us to have a baby, and we just need to trust God. Maybe He is answering our prayers, but not in the way we want Him to do it.

Maybe it’s just a fallen world we’re living in, and sin has made it so not all mothers can have the number of children they want. Maybe there is a reason, but we just don’t like it. Maybe the physical effects of sin have wreaked havoc on my body, and there’s nothing I can do about it.

Our world is not perfect, and we don’t always get what we want.

Maybe He wants us to really experience children as the gifts they are. No one has a right to a child. They are given to us as gifts. God has already given us two beautiful gifts, and maybe we do take them for granted from time to time. We didn’t deserve them, but God gave them to us anyway.

Maybe God is teaching us to be less judgmental. Maybe he wants us to stop comparing ourselves to other families, to stop judging others for the number of children they have. Maybe He is reminding us there is a myriad of reasons why a family might be small, and they might not all be closing themselves off to the life and children He wants them to have.

RELATED: If Two Is All We Get, They’ll Be Enough

Maybe He is teaching us gratitude. Rather than focusing on what we lack, maybe this is God’s way of encouraging us to be grateful for what we have.

Maybe God wants us to trust Him more. Maybe He wants us to entrust our lives and our family to Him.

Maybe we have forgotten that it is God who gives life to our children. We cooperate with Him in their creation, but we cannot give life to our children without Him. Maybe this is an opportunity to really recognize the primacy of God’s creative power in our lives.

Maybe I don’t understand God’s mind, and I don’t know His will for us. Maybe I don’t know what I really need right now. Maybe this is supposed to be an opportunity to draw closer to Him, to truly surrender my life and my body to Him. Maybe He wants me to lean on Him, instead of trying to stand on my own two feet through this. Maybe He wants me to be satisfied with what I have before He gives me anything more.

Maybe I just need to be patient because I know God hears and answers all of our prayers. So maybe I just need to keep praying. God rewards those who persevere in prayer after all. I’m not sure what the answer to my prayers will look like, but I’m confident it will involve a minivan, whether I have two kids or five.

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Shannon Whitmore

Shannon Whitmore currently lives in northwestern Virginia with her husband, Andrew, and their two children, John and Felicity. When she is not caring for her children, Shannon enjoys writing for her blog, Love in the Little Things, reading fiction, and freelance writing on topics such as marriage, family life, faith, and health. She has experience serving in the areas of youth ministry, religious education, sacramental preparation, and marriage enrichment.

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