If the physical presence of a person brings with it a bounty of learning, is it possible, also, that lessons lie in the lack thereof? I often see writings on revelations had in pregnancy or wisdom earned in motherhood. I’ve read articles and blog posts on the deepening and discovery that come through parenting a teen or sending a child off to college. I don’t know those things. I’ll get to them at some point, I’m sure. But for now, here’s a little bit of what not having those things has taught me. Perhaps you’ll gain a word or two of wisdom as I share my small epiphanies birthed of inexperience.
It was August 18th and I prayed for my babies. That was nothing new, though. I’d prayed for my future babies since the day Trent and I were married. But this day, this August 18th, was different. It was the first time I put a timeline on it. It was the first time I asked, God, now. It was the first time I thought of myself as a mom, or even capable of owning that sacred title. It was August 18th…2013.
Two years, zero months, and thirty-one days ago. But who’s counting?
Let me take a deep breath, because I never thought I’d write that for a whole host of reasons. The first being I never imagined it’d be hard for me to have kids. That wasn’t part of premarital counseling. Heck, we’re told in high school health it’s pretty darn easy, right? But I’ll get to that in another blog post. I’ve got a lot more to say on these lessons in trying-to-make-a-baby. But the bigger reason on why I never thought I’d write this is uglier than infertility. (Which, by the way, I like to refer to as “fertility challenged”…humor me, I’m particular with my words). It’s called shame. And shame can be dealt with in different ways, but the one thing I’ve learned is it can’t be alone. And perhaps if I step out from behind shame’s shelter, then maybe just one or two of you reading this will know something entirely wonderful and priceless in your own struggle, whether it’s with fertility or something otherwise…you are not alone.
Today’s post isn’t about lessons in unwanted surprises, sheltering shame, or even high school health. Those are for another day. Today’s post starts at the top, as in the Big Guy upstairs. Believe it or not, my difficulty in becoming a mom has challenged, changed and rocked my view of our Father God.
I’m just going to be completely honest, God and I have had some heated conversations these past two plus years. I’m not sure they’ve qualified as “prayers” because they didn’t exactly fall under those categories I learned as a kid—petitions, praises, confessions, or even conversation. They were more like, um, complaints and criticisms. I wasn’t always a gracious daughter, but then again, I didn’t always see Him as a good God. I said I’d be honest. Thankfully, some things have changed. I still have my questions, and my opinions still don’t match up with His omniscience, but I’ve tried to stop asking my questions and stop questioning his omniscience. Instead, I try to focus on what I know today, more than ever, to be true. And what I know is this. He is good. And He is good to me. In two years of praying and waiting for a baby, I’ve ultimately learned two big things about God.
The first is that I am not God.
What an obvious revelation, you might say. I thought it was as well, that is, until I realized how often I turn myself into God. My whole life I’d basically been telling God I got this on my own. In fact, I hung my hat on hard work and self-sufficiency. College athlete? Conference standout? Academic All-American? I prided myself not on the awards, but on my work behind them. You know what they say about pride, right? It comes before the downfall. And it was about November 2013-ish when I realized with a whole new clarity my means were utterly insufficient and all the hard work in the world wouldn’t bring me a baby. What a staggering realization that I am not, in fact, God. At first it was maddening, and then it was saddening. About now, you’re probably thinking what a saint of a husband I must have to put up with an emotional wife during an emotional season in life, all the while wanting to wear the father hat every bit as much as I wanted to wear the one called mommy. You’re right, and maybe one day he’ll write a book. Lord knows I’ve provided him enough content. But here’s the real wonder in all that mess: that something tender and strong emerges from all that disappointment and despair. It’s beautiful and mysterious and can’t be fully explained because it’s called hope and it’s called peace. When I finally relented to God that I am not God, I could finally lean into the power and the presence that He is.
My second big thing I learned about God is it’s a good thing I’m not God.
I didn’t think I’d like this realization at first. There’s an inner piece of me that still grasps the wheel for control. I want to snap my fingers and see a baby bump on my belly, unlock a genie-god who’ll grant me my wishes. But then I remember…its a good thing I’m not God. Eugene Peterson expressed my sentiments best in his book A Long Obedience in the Same Direction:
“If God is God at all, he must know more about our needs than we do; if God is god at all, he must be more in touch with the reality of our thoughts, our emotions, our bodies than we are; if god is God at all, he must have a more comprehensive grasp of the interrelations in our families and communities and nations than we do…We are not presented with a functional god who will help us out of jams or an entertainment God who will lighten tedious hours. We are presented with the God of Exodus and Easter, the God of Sinai and Calvary. If we want to understand God, we must do it on his terms… And do we really want it any other way? I don’t think so. We would very soon become contemptuous of a god whom we could figure out like a puzzle or learn to use like a tool. No, if God is worth our attention at all, he must be a God we can look up to—a God we must look up to: “I look to you, heaven-dwelling God.”
Indeed, I am not God, and it is a very, very good thing I am not God. And if it took Him knowing not yet for my now, God prayer is the answer that would bring me to know His goodness more wholly. Then, by all means, it’s worth the wait.