When people hear the term “Quiverfull”, if they have any idea what it means, they generally immediately think “insanely large family” and maybe “like that Duggar family.” After all, the rallying cry of the Quiverfull “movement” (which, if it is a movement is a very small, very diverse, and very loosely organized one) is the following verse from the Christian scriptures:
Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one’s youth.
Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them;
They shall not be ashamed,
But shall speak with their enemies in the gate.
Psalm 127:3-5 (NKJV)
Sometimes, though, the point of the Quiverfull philosophy gets lost. It’s annoying when people who don’t subscribe to it misunderstand. It’s hurtful when those who are like-minded miss the point. Couples who have struggled with infertility or miscarriage have found themselves under the gun from people who they considered friends, when the “friends” decide to judge their lack of children as a personal failing. That has only happened to me one time, and it was devastatingly painful. Someone who happened to have children very close in age questioned our dedication to being open to children, because my oldest was 6 months old and I was not yet pregnant again. This person suggested I stop nursing my baby because breastfeeding is birth control. Not only was that medically untrue (ask your doctor if you can rely on breastfeeding as birth control, if you don’t believe me), but it was essentially a round-about way of calling me and my husband hypocrites.
When my husband and I were getting to know each other prior to our engagement, we discussed this issue because it was very important to both of us. We each wanted a marriage that was completely open to children, without any family planning, based on our faith and specifically our interpretation of the Bible with regards to children and families. We joked about how 15 kids would be nice, but we didn’t set out for a specific number. Our belief was that children are a beautiful and God-given fruit of marital love. Although we are not Calvinist, we believe each human being has a soul, and therefore is not merely biological happenstance, but an individual created and loved by God, whether that person is a first child, or a 14th child in a family, born into happy circumstances (like me) or unfortunate ones (like my husband).
We knew that, due to my young age, we were potentially opening ourselves up to having a horde of children within a few years of our marriage. We approached that thought with some trepidation (being young, inexperienced, and rather poor) but with eagerness and joy too. However, over 8 years into marriage, and we have only three living children. We lost two babies to miscarriage. Our youngest is 3.5 years old. I never, ever imagined in my wildest dreams that this would be the route God would take us. This was not the life I dreamed of when I was a romantic teenager looking at grown-up life through rose-colored glasses.
But it is a good life, nevertheless. I have learned the other side of Quiverfull–to trust and rest in God’s plan for our family, even when it doesn’t look like the plan I thought he had for me. It took some years for me to grasp this, and in those years I cried and complained and pounded my fist on the gates of Heaven. And then I discovered peace and contentment and I now refuse to compare myself to other families and think of our family as lacking. We are blessed. Our arms are wide open for another baby (or many more) if that is God’s plan for us. But in the meantime, our “quiver” is full–full of life, love, joy, and three amazing little boys.