We don't have an ultrasound, an Etsy banner, or a cute picture of a little pair of shoes next to ours. And we don't have plans for gender reveal cupcakes, a baby shower, or even a nursery. We don't own a single piece of baby paraphernalia or even have potential names in mind. And I realized today that I have zero clue how to mix baby formula, what kind of bottle it's supposed to be put in, and how often a baby needs it. People. I cannot begin to even tell you how little I know.
But you know what?
Because I can tell you what we do have. We have hope and we have joy, for today. And I really thought that I needed all of that other stuff in order to have the hope and the joy too, but I'm starting to figure out that's not exactly true. And before you think I'm all mature and wonderful, let me tell you something else. I didn't get to this place overnight. I didn't even get to this place over the past few weeks. God has brought me to this place, slowly and carefully over the past several years. The threads have been introduced one by one, and the design is being weaved into a brilliant and beautiful pattern, and I believe that God is giving me a tiny glimpse of the other side, a brief look at the work of art that He has been weaving since before I was even born.
There are the threads of grief, of brokenness, of joy, and of pain. The threads of accomplishment, of blessing, of repentance, rebirth, and redemption. And the list goes on and on. And as Ravi Zacharias puts it so beautifully in the book I'm currently reading, The Grand Weaver,
“God the Grand Weaver seeks those with tender hearts so that he can put his imprint on them. Your hurts and your disappointments are part of that design, to shape your heart and the way you feel about reality. The hurts you live through will always shape you. There is no other way.”
And as I begin to see, even now, how it is far from complete but coming together, in His way and in His time. And it is both equally humbling and kind of astounding. That God.
These past few weeks have been some of the most tumultuous I have ever had. Up and down and up and down and up. And then down again. God has asked me to do things in these past weeks that I did NOT want to do, And I've wrestled a great deal today with how much to say here and how much to keep to myself. And I fully believe that part of what I'm being asked to do these days is to be open and raw about the inter-workings of my heart, and what God is doing in it. And so here it is.
These past weeks as Jess and I have delved into this process called adoption, I have wrestled more and struggled harder with the mistakes of my past than I have in many many years. See, it became evident early on that in order to move forward, I was going to have to go back, first. Way back. Back to the time in my life that I view with great grief but also great gratitude. Back to the ugliness and the humiliation and the dark dark darkness. There would be no way to move forward without some serious digging up of old wounds and old transgressions, that although never forgotten, lay somewhat dormant in the comings and goings of my every day life, only because of God's grace. For those who were around at that time- you know the details. For those who weren't- the details aren't important. It's not as much about the mess as it is about what God can make of the mess. Because what's important is that we think we know the cost of following Christ, but often we grossly underestimate it. See, when God gave me a mother heart and called me with my husband to parent, I knew after our first loss that that call and the cost of following that call were going to be higher than I'd expected. And then we lost two more and added a year of infertility and the cost began to climb higher and higher. And when the call to parenthood took a turn toward adoption, we knew the financial cost, time cost, and emotional cost would only continue to grow. And I think we were really at peace with that, but figured that God would take care of us. And then came the cost that I personally had never expected. The cost of facing the continued legal ramifications of my past life and unearthing a new layer of shame and guilt that would accompany my trip to the past, in order to move toward the future.
See, I've dealt with it all. I accepted responsibility, walked the road of repentance, and experienced mercy, grace, and big true huge redemption that only Christ can offer. And I stand in that, knowing that I am forgiven and all has been made new. And God took my shame and He took my guilt too. but this. This unwelcome blast from the past. This new layer. I was completely unprepared for. The guilt of knowing that my past shortcomings might now have a direct effect on whether my husband, who carries no such burden from his past, might have the chance to be a father to a child? Friends. This burden took me to a new place of brokenness and of heartache. To the on your knees, face in the carpet, Please God don't make my husband pay for my mistakes, place of shattered everything.
And I begged and I pleaded with Him. Please do not ask me to do this. Once again, you think too much of me. I have done everything you have asked of me. And I have endured these past years of grief and pain and great loss. Please. There has to be another way to follow your call. To be a mother. Don't make me do this.
And I wrestled. Hard. For a few days. And only my husband who lives with me saw the place that God took me in order to get to where I am today. It was real and it was raw. And there was no solution and no quick fix. And some days the most honest, most real prayer that one can muster comes down to a mere "Help me. God, please help me." And it isn't profound. And it isn't pretty. But God honors a willing heart and an honest prayer, imperfections and all.
And so, He has given me the strength to press on.
And as I sit here, considering all that has transpired in the past couple of weeks since that time, I can't help but ask God why He continues to put up with me. Why He continues to wait out my selfishness and my pride with so much patience. The fighting and the railing against what is being asked of me-- the spoiled brat who wants what I want without having to sacrifice anything in return. Who wants it all to go perfectly and the way I had always imagined. Wants wants wants, me, me, me.
"Becky, this is not about you."
And I will be honest and say that I never intended to write any of this here. For all of you to read. And even now am considering if maybe I will need to make some edits before posting. But the point that I started out wanting to make and am hopefully finally getting to here, is that none of this is about me. It isn't about Jesse. It isn't about what we want. It isn't about us at all.
Which is precisely why the photo announcements and the ultrasounds and the party planning doesn't matter. Because all of those things, as fun and as wonderful as they are, are not necessary in order for God to work out His purpose in my life and in Jesse's life to bring us to parenthood. They are not necessary for people to be able to sit back and watch and say, "Only God could do that." In fact, maybe they need to disappear so that He can do just that! What is necessary is that I maintain an open heart of obedience to follow wherever God asks me to go-- even if that requires a few nights here and there with my tear-stained face in the carpet of the room that I had always planned on being my child's nursery.
I still want all the stuff. I want a big party. And I want the photo session. And I want that moment in the doctor's office where I can hear a heartbeat for the first time. And I hope that one day, God will allow Jess and me to experience the joy of those moments. But for now, He has called us to a different kind of joy. To the joy and the peace of knowing that we are right where He wants us: crazy as it all may seem. To the joy of encouraging and loving one of the bravest young women that I have ever had the privilege of meeting. Who has a heart to honor God with her life and the life of her sweet daughter. Who is willing to make the most ultimate of sacrifices. Who is a true mother warrior. And just getting to be a part of her journey has been such a gift-- we are grateful and honored to be a part of it. God has something huge in store for her. Huge. I love her and maybe some day I will find the right words to express how much respect I have for her and to remind her just how worthy and just how loved she is.
And do you want to know what else? God has somehow restored some of the joy to pregnancy. The joy that we felt that first time, that changed every experience thereafter and robbed them of their potential joy. God has brought it back. Because we are paper pregnant. And I feel joy, and I feel hope. And there is something really beautiful about the stripped-down version of "expecting" that I am experiencing right now. If there is a homecoming in the next few weeks, it will be far from perfect. I'm fighting the lung crud and have zero energy to purge the guest room, clean the carpets, or organize every cupboard and closet in the house. There just won't be enough time. And so, if that day comes, it will not be luxurious and it will not have a lot of stuff. But when I see it in my mind, it is humble, it is precious, and it is beautiful in its simplicity. And we will offer all of the love that we can possibly muster to that child for however long the Lord allows us to be in her life. Plus, there will be time for parties and for celebration later. It will come because I believe that the God who loves me and who has a purpose for my life has woven it into the tapestry already. We may be waiting another two years or ten years for that season, but it will come. He is proving even right now that He has not forgotten us. And that for today, we have already been given all that we need.
“Only if you are willing to pray sincerely for God’s will to be done and are willing to live the life apportioned to you will you see the breathtaking view of God that he wants you to have, through the windows he has placed in your life. You cannot always live on the mountaintop, but when you walk through the valley, the memory of the view from the mountain will sustain you and give you the strength to carry you through.” - R. Zacharias, The Grand Weaver