I had the pleasure of accompanying my mother as she spoke at a women’s retreat on beautiful Whidbey Island this past weekend. For those of you who don’t know her, my mom is an incredible singer/songwriter/speaker who has some really life-changing things to share. I’m immensely proud to say that I have her blood running through my veins. She takes me along to “help her out” by singing backup at her various engagements, but she may (or may not) realize that the pleasure is all mine because every time I accompany her, God teaches me new things and I come back feeling encouraged, challenged, and granted with a new perspective. So thank you, mom, for allowing me to be a part of your amazing journey and also for teaching and encouraging me along the way. No matter how much you thank me for coming with you, I should be thanking you even more.
She spoke on several subjects over the course of the weekend, but they were all wrapped up in the idea of gaining a new perspective on our lives, on the “bad” and “good” things that happen, and learning to just let God be God and accept His outcome for our lives, which is always good, even when His will isn’t what we think we want. I’m not going to try and rehash everything that she said because I can’t say it as eloquently as she. (Click here to listen to the recording from the first night, I guarantee you will enjoy it.) You can check out her blog and her songs to hear more of her message. And like her on Facebook while you’re at it! Tell her I sent you.
What I will be blabbering about today is something kind of difficult to talk about, but that’s why I need to get it all out there in the open. Writing things out like this helps me to process them, and maybe some of you will have your own perspective to share (if you do, I would love to hear it).
Let me start by saying something which will come as a surprise to almost no one who knows me personally (or who is friends with me on facebook, where I talk about this way too often): I want to have kids. Bad. And yes, lots of people want to have kids, but I have what many women will understand as soon as I say it. Baby Fever. If you have never been a woman in her childbearing years then you simply cannot understand the ache. The weird sensation when you see a toddler (no, it’s not the sudden urge to kidnap)- a wistful kind of desire that clenches up right in your gut. Somebody else’s infant starts squalling and you find yourself not rolling your eyes and sighing like you used to. Instead the knot of desire pulls itself a little tighter. Your cute-pregnant-lady radar is on red alert and ALL OF YOUR FRIENDS are pregnant. All of them.
I am so excited to have kids. I want to sing them to sleep, snuggle on the couch for hours and read them stories, listen to them squeal with delight while they play with the dog. I want to take them to their grandparents’ and let them spoil them rotten. I want to see my husband’s face as he watches them sleep. I want to instill them with the silliness that infuses my marriage. I want to teach them to say “Hey look at that!” when somebody hiccups the same way you say “God bless you” when somebody sneezes. I want to tell them there is an ostrich living in their closet and that they can’t stick their fingers in those grates in front of the meat aisle at the grocery store because that is where they keep the alligators. I want to totally warp them in the best kind of way- I want to encourage their imagination and teach them not to take life too seriously.
I’ve already decided that I want to use cloth diapers and make my own baby food and breastfeed instead of using formula. We’ve decided that our kids don’t need all the extra crap that “the Industry” tries to convince us is essential. Instead of plunking my kid down in front of a Baby Einstein DVD I want to plunk them down in my lap and read to them. I’ve convinced myself that I have it all figured out (ha ha) and that I’m going to be THE BEST parent of all time. All I’m waiting on now is for my husband to be ready for this next adventure.
At least… that’s what I thought, until this weekend.
I knew that my husband isn’t quite ready for this yet- he wants kids, but as the husband he feels an immense responsibility to provide for his family the very best that he can, and I am extremely grateful for that. So I was content (well, not really content, more like forced against my will, if I’m being totally honest and maybe a little dramatic) to be patient and respect his totally valid desire to wait. But deep down I was still convinced that this would happen for me. He would eventually decide he was ready, and we would get pregnant on our first try (and I would be an adorable pregnant woman with no stretch marks and I would get back down to my current size after just 2 months) and have a perfect healthy beautiful baby during a natural drug-free childbirth with a midwife, and we would bring her (yes, her) home and everything would go perfectly, we would happily and willingly change and wash her little cloth diapers and after a couple of weeks I would go back to work and take her with me, and it would be a perfectly harmonious existence straight out of a Lifetime movie montage.
I just made myself want to throw up a little and that’s my own fantasy. Anyway…
The point is that I thought I had everything figured out. All I was waiting for was for God to provide us with the “right” financial conditions, to prepare my husband’s heart and make him ready, and we would be good to go. I thought I had such wonderful faith for always praying to God for patience rather than for him to do exactly what I wanted right then. What I didn’t realize was that I was still telling God what to do. And when does that ever work?
This weekend my mom talked about accepting God’s will, even if it isn’t what we thought we wanted. And as I sat there quietly while the keyboard softly tinkled in the background, He spoke to my heart in a very quiet way and suddenly the thought occurred to me: What if He said no?
What if God said no to me? What if He told me that it was not His will for me to have a child… ever?
My immediate reaction was this: No. I said no right back. I mean, He couldn’t do this to me! This is the desire of my heart! Deeper than owning my own bookstore. Deeper than living in an adorable little house nestled in a grove of trees. Deeper even than having a book published. Those are all uncertainties anyway, and I think I could be willing to let them go. But to give up my child?
And it occurred to me- my arrogance. My child? What child? I don’t have a child. There is nothing wrong with picking out names you like and making important decisions before you have a baby. But I had already taken ownership of that baby before she was even mine. I had essentially told God that this was how my life was going to go because that’s what I wanted.
And yeah, I’m not saying that God would prevent me from it. I know the recipe for a baby. I chart my basal body temperature and keep a detailed chart of things you really don’t want to know about. Barring medical issues I could get pregnant on my first try, no problem. But when did I ever seek the will of God in this? I just assumed that He would not say no to such a strong and noble desire.
But then… Jesus had a pretty strong desire not to die.
And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” Matt. 26:39
The thought of being asked to give up my dream of motherhood was physically painful to me, but it was nothing compared to what Jesus went through as he sweated blood and begged God, if He was willing, to find some other way. And yet He didn’t. Nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.
Up until now, I had not been willing to surrender that dream to my God. Oh, I always thought that I was so good at trusting Him. With my finances, with my career, with my hopes and dreams. But how can I say that I trust Him, if I can’t put my deepest, most sincere desire into His hands and trust Him to take care of it and do with it what He will?
If I only trust my God when it’s convenient for me, when it fits right in with my own plans for my life, then I don’t trust Him completely.
Yes Lord, I trust you to provide for us financially.
Yes Lord, I trust you to help us grow together as a couple in our relationship with You.
Yes Lord, I trust you to use my talents for your glory.
Yes Lord, I trust that your will for my life is good even if it takes me away from my deepest heartfelt desires….. wait! My deepest desires? All of them? Every single one?
I don’t believe, at this time, that God is asking me to give that dream up. I really don’t. But He is asking me to be willing to give it up at a moment’s notice if He asks me to. Didn’t He ask Abraham to sacrifice his son, the beautiful son for whom he had waited for years and years? How gut-wrenching must that have been? And yet somehow Abraham knew that his God was so big, so powerful, and so inexplicably good that even if He asked him to make the ultimate sacrifice, he would do it because God’s will is always good. Even if we don’t understand it. Even if it hurts like Hell. (Yes, I can say that. Hell hurts.)
I don’t know if I’m there yet. My faith is not that strong. But I am talking to my God about it daily now- searching for His will, and asking Him to give me the strength to be willing to let go of my wildest dreams if He asks me to, because what He has for me is beyond my wildest dreams.
“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”
(1 Corinthians 2:9)