Realising that our lives are not about us

Filed in Family by on September 28, 2013 0 Comments

couple walking to the end by Jesus Leon

Father Robert Barron has a brilliant article responding to the recent Time cover story, “The Childfree Life”.

While Time empathises with women who feel “sidelined” and “scolded” by “a culture that often equates womanhood with motherhood”, Fr Barron reflects that only very recently has humanity (in the West at least) thrown off “the context of a whole series of values that properly condition and shape the will: family, neighborhood, society, culture, the human race, nature, and ultimately, God.”

In consciously choosing to live a childfree life, couples are electing to excuse themselves from “the great adventure of the human race; [from] the dynamisms of nature itself.” Instead, they choose to do whatever they want, simply because they can.

Yet is this existence really so blissful? One of the greatest tragedies here, argues Fr Barron, is the loss of a gift that gives us back our humanity. The irony is that, clinging on to “having it all”, those who choose childlessness in fact lose something at the core of their humanity: the gift of realising that their lives are not about themselves. This is what having children does for human beings – we’re drawn out of ourselves into a greater reality that makes us more alive.

It is finally with relief and a burst of joy that we realize that our lives are not about us.

I’ve seen it recently with my sister. She had her first baby eight weeks ago, and has not had a full night’s sleep since. Neither has her husband. Yet I have never seen them more joyful, more alive. I am not saying that parenting and family life are blissful; but even in the difficulties there are very few parents who would actually regret having had their child.

This is why vocations are part of God’s plan. Accepting any vocation – marriage, priesthood, consecrated life – liberates one into a reality greater than our own small world, a reality in which our own small world finds its meaning.

How sad would it be if our lives really were only about us.

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About the Author ()

Hannah Vaughan-Spruce is an experienced catechist and youth worker, who now works for the Diocese of Portsmouth. Some of her Jericho Tree articles were first posted at her personal catechetical blog Transformed in Christ. They are used here with permission. See

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