Sunday, September 4, 2016

Other Plans

"Wait, you don't have children?"
It was an eye-opening moment for me as I stared up at the older woman I had met a few summers prior.

I was up at our front office, attempting to send and receive via the fax machine so I could ask a visiting doctor friend about my blood work--somewhat hoping that she could give me all the answers to my infertility by looking at some numbers on a chart. I probably speak a little too casually about not being able to have children (and in that moment, probably too loudly), because this woman came over and told me that if I ever needed to, I could get the scoop on being even older without children.

Wait, what?
You really don't have children? 

Now that I think about my quick response, I can only imagine the knife digging deeper into her heart. I can only imagine the thousands of times she's heard it, been asked about it, had people talk about it.

My incredulousness wasn't because I thought something was wrong with her, however. In some way, I almost felt like she was a beacon of hope for me. A light in the darkness. A woman living out one of my fears, but doing it in a way encompassed with joy, kindness and gentleness. There was also guilt, as I realized I had just assumed that this woman and her husband had kids and grandkids.... because everyone does, right?

We stood in that front office talking for a bit.
No children.
Attempts at adoption, but it didn't work out.
The Lord had other plans.
But that doesn't stop the questions or the assumptions (as I just proved). As much as life can revolve around children, she assured me that it quickly turns into grandchildren: everyone is always talking about kids. And it still hurts, even if it's just a bit.

I haven't really known what to do with not being able to get pregnant.
I don't care enough to really do something about it- like go to a specialist or spending more money on a billion different things. Some might call me foolish, but I just feel like if we're meant to have kids, we will. If having children is in the plan, the Lord will bless us with them. I can't read Scripture, claim I believe it and then not believe that for my life.

So right now we're in a period of just living. Living life and, I pray, learning to live it in such a way where God is truly glorified. We're not not trying, but I've stopped holding tightly to temperatures, timing, and being overly obsessed with fluids and random myths. I've started thinking more about what life might look like without children and if there could be true joy in that for me.

When this older couple left at the end of the summer there was an applause, a cheer, a recognition for them that brought tears to my eyes. They had deeply impacted our entire staff. They had lived a summer of service and sacrifice because of what Christ has done for them- and it showed in the response of everyone around them. In a room with almost 200 folks, people stood to acknowledge them and to thank them. My heart was deeply stirred.

Could I never have a child, yet live my life to impact lives for the Kingdom of Christ and have that be enough?  Could I do it with joy, humility and contentment?

I want my answer to that question to be a resounding yes. Honestly, I'm not 100% sure that I'm there- at least not all of the time. Because sometimes I still think about being older and I think about being lonely and I think about all the things I won't experience without children being in my life.

But I do trust the Lord in this.
I trust that He, and He alone, creates life. I trust that He can make this barren woman fertile, if it's what is best. I trust that He is good. I trust that He knows me better than myself.

And, if, at the end of my life, I can stand before a cloud of witnesses and know that above all else (children or not) that my life was lived to honor the King...I think that ought to be enough for this wretched heart of mine.

I'm so thankful that Jesus reminds me, over and over again, that this life is not about me nor does it ever go down the trail that I'm expecting. I'm so thankful that even the most heart-wrenching things can be redeemed. I'm so thankful that nothing is impossible.

I'm so thankful for a couple who can model this for me- even though I don't know all the heartaches and struggles they've faced on their own journey. I see where the Lord has brought them, and I see what it can look like to abandon all of our own desires for the sake of something greater. I see it, and it is good.

Today, I'm thankful.

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