Arm wrestling with Jesus
Months ago, I wrote about our messy discernment process in deciding to be open to another child. You can read more about it here, but the gist if of it is that I knew very clearly in prayer we were called to be open to another child. I was not on board with that plan, initially, for a variety of reasons; one of them being a 10 year anniversary trip we were wanting to take.
At the time I was praying and writing that post, it would make us due right around May 2020, the month of our anniversary. Spoiler alert: we are due June 2020, so you can see who won that prayer wrestling matchup between me and Jesus.
I yielded. I understood the desire to take a trip to celebrate a decade of our sacrament of matrimony was a holy desire. It's a good thing to spend time with your spouse and to celebrate your marriage! But I trusted there was a reason this may be better.
Here we are. May 2020. Days after our 10 year anniversary that we couldn't celebrate at a restaurant-- let alone in another country or at a domestic resort-- because everything is shut down for a global pandemic. It hit me on our anniversary that I would have been devastated to have to postpone or cancel a big anniversary trip. Through this "yes" to His timing and not mine, I was spared that heartache.
Don't get me wrong, pandemic pregnancy, even for a seasoned mom, isn't easy. Isolation is hard. I am scared for what will be expected of me in delivery, if my baby will be taken from me because I cough once, and if I'll go weeks with zero help because of distancing rules. But no matter what happens, in a month, I will hold my daughter. She will bring new life and hope admist an uncertain and fearful time. She has kept me drinking water rather than copious amounts of wine (and only moderate to severe amounts of coffee) and focused on my own well being for her sake. I am better through this pandemic because of her presence growing inside me. I didn't know I would need her-- but Jesus did.
Maybe it will mean we simply stay home, snuggle our new little sister, and have a relaxed summer. Not trying to hustle between activities or camps or outings. There will probably be too many popsicles with red dye and days where we justify an extra hour of screen time because sitting together on the couch is the most energy I have with a newborn that day. It will be different than I originally planned, but different doesn't have to be bad. Quiet, simple, together. I am becoming okay with this idea for our summer.
I wasn't totally sold on the idea of this timing when I cautiously said "yes" to expanding our family. Now, I see how this is actually quite perfect, given the circumstances around us.
We will plan the anniversary trip at 11 years or 12 years or whenever it works (and the world takes down its "closed" sign). I bought a gift card to a fancy restaurant to force us to go for a nice meal when they re-open. This "anniversary trip versus open to another baby" isn't the first time I've wrestled with insisting on my timing rather than surrendering my plans and trusting the timing.
Daughter. This is my word of the year for 2020 as I've been moved through prayer, therapy, spiritual direction, and the events of life to really learn what it means to be a daughter. We must understand our identity as a child before we can fully and effectively become a spouse or a parent. It took me until 33 years old to allow the identity of daughter to define me. Better late than never.
I have prayed and prayed for a daughter. I adore my three boys, and they are the reason I am ready for this next adventure. I was too broken in my own daughterhood, and frankly, I am grateful the Lord did not entrust a daughter to me until now. For years, though, I would not have described myself as grateful for this time of waiting.
"Your desire for a daughter is holy. Of course He wants to give you such a wonderful gift that you desire. Which means this son must be THAT much better at this moment-- what parent doesn't want to give their child what they ask for, unless they know the alternative is better at this time." Those words gave me such consolation when I found out Jude was a boy. He is exactly the third son I needed, and I still can't wait to see what's in store for that little dude. But when I first learned of another son on the way, a part of my heart hurt at the idea of maybe never experiencing a daughter.
That said, I had consolation that if I never had a biological daughter, God would entrust a spiritual daughter of some sort to me. I would be the best #boymom I could be, and it would be a joyful, wonderful life. It's okay-- and authentic-- to acknowledge the yearnings of our heart and still embrace the life we have. I would have adored this little one had she been a fourth boy. I am also ecstatic that we get this opportunity to raise a little lady.
It won't be perfect, of this I am sure. But I am more ready now than 8, 6, or 3 years ago. He knew it would take three children on earth and more in heaven before my own broken daughterhood would be healed, and I would be able to teach my child about her identity as a daughter.
"If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts." -Psalm 95
I had to stop buying in to the lie that He doesn't want what's best for me.
When I begged for a daughter, and He said "not yet."
Maybe because we would have stopped with kids if a girl came second or third, and then we would have missed out on one or more of our amazing sons.
Maybe because the Y sperm simply found the egg before the X sperm due to timing and other conditions.
Maybe because my own woundedness would have caused more heartache, and He knew if I just waited, the experience would be that much sweeter.
When I wanted to celebrate everything our marriage has endured and the place we find ourselves today as husband and wife-- and He again said "not yet."
Instead, it was time for us to receive our daughter. And to avoid a trip planned during a pandemic that would we have to cancel, while missing out on the joy of anticipating a little girl and using this forced extra time at home to connect, prepare, and eventually enjoy all of the newborn goodness.
I have other longings of my heart that have never been answered. I hope it's a "not yet" kind of situation, but I realize that may not be the case. I do believe God is a loving father who wants what is best for me, although free will of myself and others and the laws of nature may prohibit all of my desires from coming to fruition on this side of heaven. When He does speak, though, I'm learning to listen and respond. I may not understand the timing when I take the leap, but so far, He's always caught me on the other side. Often in a way that makes more sense than I could have comprehended months or years earlier.
Still, I am a sore loser. The mini golf incident of 2009 almost ended my marriage before it began. But I am grateful to have lost this wrestling match with Jesus. I am forever thankful I yielded my agenda and surrendered to His timing. An 11 year anniversary trip or 10 year 4 month fancy anniversary dinner will be just fine- especially when we get to come home to the daughter we've prayed for.