I’ve done a lot of planning in my life…
Planned to go to college. Get a degree. Get married. Buy a house. Have kids. Stay home and raise kids.
My plans did not include buying 3 different houses within 5 years, or moving across the country 850 miles away from our family.
My plans did not include developing multiple autoimmune diseases that often times mess with me physically, and mentally.
I never planned to work while trying to balance raising a family, nor was the family we have today the family I dreamed that I would one day have.
There have been so many times that I have sat in the presence of the Lord crying, sometimes yelling “This is not what I wanted!” “This is not what I had planned!” “This is not what I asked for!”
I’ve found that what is at the root of me gripping my plans so tightly is control. I often times don’t trust God enough to realize that He is in control and that He ultimately, even when life feels really really hard, has my best in mind. You see we don’t grow as much as we could when life gets handed to us on a platter. When I look back, it’s been in my times of brokenness that God has grown me the most. Sometimes, just like children, God lovingly disciplines His children in order to align them within His will, to make us look more like Him.
This morning I was pondering these thoughts because something triggered in me a memory, back when Alex was a baby, and how hard that season was. I was a new mom of two. Trying to adjust to life with two kids, and acknowledging now what I didn’t know then, that I’m positive I had an undiagnosed postpartum anxiety issue. It was a really hard time for Dave, and I. Dave was struggling a lot with his commute to work and came home pretty much useless in helping with the kids, and Alex was so hard. Fussy, needy, sooo clingy. I felt so trapped and stuck, but I couldn’t get away because someone had to take care of the kids. I remember not actually feeling “love” for Alex until he was around 8 months old. Before then I just loved him out of duty, because that’s what you do when you are a mom whether you feel like it or not.
Before then Dave and I talked about having more kids, but once you have kids the realities of parenting set in. Financially it’s hard. Emotionally….I felt so alone. Pregnancy…my body hates being pregnant….I throw up for 9 months, can’t eat anything, and then I have the baby and 3 days later I can’t eat whatever I want again. It’s beyond morning sickness. It’s hyperemesis gravidium (you may have heard of Princess Kate’s struggle with this in the news). There are varying degrees of it. Mine was mild compared to some moms, and even at that, I felt awful. I was hospitalized at one point when I was pregnant with Alex for it in preterm labor due to dehydration. I remember watching moms with the same struggle I had who just kept having babies, and I seriously wanted to die…..I had hoped after Abbie that pregnancy couldn’t be worse, but I was wrong….my pregnancy with Alex was so much worse. I knew once I had him that I wasn’t sure that I could do this again, but I felt so guilty. We wanted more kids, but then not only was my pregnancy hard, but he was a really hard baby. So hard that I kid you not, ended up with us sitting in a doctor’s office when Alex was 3 months old for a vasectomy appointment for Dave. I imagine we were quite the sight….me sitting in the waiting room with a 3-year-old and a crying infant, as we waited for my husband’s “appointment.”
We had talked and prayed, and both of us knew what our dreams of what we wanted our family to be were, but we also knew biologically we couldn’t have more children. I remember vividly praying about it one night, and it was then that I knew, our marriage couldn’t do this again. We prayed and entrusted to God that if He wanted to expand our family more He would do so through adoption. Nevertheless a dream died that day. We had always talked about adoption, and at one point considered adoption before we had biological kids, but when it gets taken away, and you had always hoped for more…it feels much harder.
One absolutely amazing thing about a dream dying though is that God always has a plan. Although it may be different, once I come to, and submit to His plans, not mine, I realize His way is best whether I understand or not. He sees the entire picture. He knows what I need, and what I don’t need. He knows what will make me more like Him, and what will cause me to stray from Him. So even though His different plans may be a hard pill to swallow sometimes, I have enough experience to know that His way is always best. Sometimes with time some of my “why” questions will be answered, and some of them never are, and may not be on this side of heaven, but His word is true when He says in Romans 8:28:
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Maybe our plans died that day, but not God’s. He knew He wasn’t finished with our family yet, and though I have no idea what His timeline looks like for completing our family, I know once again fostering wasn’t my plan, but it was God, and I have to trust that He knows what He is doing and that He is good despite knowing that this will be hard, and though it took me awhile, I’m pretty excited to see this hole in our lives be filled with an actual sweet little person.
Friends whatever your hopes, and dreams were for your marriage, your family, your career, your home, your health….whatever they were, it’s ok to mourn. Its ok to grieve what was, and what you had hoped would be. Let yourself cry out to Him however many times it takes, but at some point, we must release our control of what was, and cling to what He has for us instead. His plans for you may not appear to be shaped the way you had hoped, and they may not be as sparkly as you think they should be. Remember though our purpose here is not for ourselves. We forget that sometimes. We tend to focus on our comfort, our desires, our wants, and we forget that we are here to worship our Creator, and fulfill His purpose for us in His kingdom:
Colossians 1:16 says:
“For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.”
Hearing this truth doesn’t change the fact that it is hard to let our dreams die to His will, but I pray that these words will point us to who and what our hope is really in.
Before we moved to Pennsylvania I found this children’s book that Lysa Terkeurst had released titled “It Will Be Okay.” This book makes me cry, as it tells a beautiful story of two friends (a fox, and a seed) who were living their comfortable, happy life, and in an instant, their life becomes uncomfortable, unfamiliar, and even scary at times. You see these two friends caretaker was a farmer, and when the time was right the farmer planted the little seed and separated the friends. They were terrified. They were lonely, but they soon realized that though things were different and a bit uncomfortable, they were still okay, and as time went on, they both found how this farmer’s plan to put them into a hard situation grew them in more ways than they could have had they stayed in their happy, comfortable old home.
On the inside front cover of this book I penned the following:
May you take great comfort in knowing, it really will be ok.