Saturday, May 4, 2019

Rethinking Motherhood

My husband and I fell in love young. I was only seventeen years old and a brand new believer, not having grown up around the gospel. My husband, Simon, was eighteen when we met. He had grown up in a believing home and was just beginning to become serious about his faith and form his own viewpoints and thoughts. In our early dating years, he patiently pursued me and gently lead me towards Jesus as I grappled with questions and curiosity. The foundation of our relationship included lots of in depth conversations about the gospel as I began to understand the lavish love of our savior. We also dreamt of our future family often. Throughout our dating, engaged, and young married years (we married at just barely twenty and twenty-one) we’d chat for hours about what our children may some day be like, what we’d like our family values to be, and our hopes and dreams as lifelong partners and eventually parents. God had placed a passion in both of our hearts to shepherd little ones and grow a family. This desire was straight from the Father; before coming to faith in Him, I didn’t overly fantasize about being a Mom someday or caring for a family. After meeting my husband, though, and falling in love with the savior, I knew with each passing day that I desired deeply to raise little ones and God blessed my husband and I both with unity and passion in this area. 

After getting married, we decided to leave our family completely in God’s hands, meaning we trusted him wholeheartedly with when He decided to bless our new family with a baby. This was truly a test of trust for us and we mutually felt like it was something God specifically called us to do. We had many conversations wrestling with this concept, still sometimes trying to take back the control and “plan” our family ourselves when the “timing seemed right.” Ultimately, though, we felt convicted that if God had called us to trust Him in everything, big and small, than how could we deliberately choose not to trust that He alone had the perfect time for our family to grow? This was difficult to swallow. I also realize not everyone has this same viewpoint and I am in no way trying to shame anybody for choosing to walk differently. I am simply sharing the road that God called us to in our early marriage and the prompting He placed on our hearts. We felt strongly that God was wanting full obedience in this area, despite the unpopularity of the decision, many reasons why it’d be easier or “safer” to choose another way, or the wide availability of other options for growing a family.

Naturally, after finding unity in this decision and fully surrendering our marriage and family to Him, we assumed we’d quickly see the humor and that I’d become pregnant immediately. We figured we’d become a family of three rather quickly since God had asked us to obey in this area, but this was not at all the case. Month after month passed and I was not pregnant. I’d often convince myself that I was, googling an array of early pregnancy symptoms and trying to make them fit. I bought so many pregnancy tests, both afraid and hopeful about the potential possibility of becoming a mom. Negative tests piled up in our garbage can and worries piled up in my mind. By this point, I had completely welcomed the idea of being a mama. I daydreamed about sweet lullabies, sticky fingers, and soft cuddles. As the days passed, though, I began to place the idea and the role of motherhood on a pedestal without realizing it. I had vivid images in my mind of being a stay-at-home-mom/ full time writer and having a flock of teeny ones in my care. In my daydreams, I’d cook homemade meals, homeschool, nurse babies, go to the park, teach my littles about Jesus, and write in my spare time. These desires were good and pure, but they became impure and selfish when I placed all my stock in them and forgot to praise Jesus for exactly where He had me. I had forgotten that the moment I surrendered my trust in Him alone for the timing of my family,  it meant I had to completely let go of any pre-conceived notions of what I thought it was supposed to look like. My blueprint wasn’t supposed to matter, but somewhere along the way I started to worship my idea of family and my idea of motherhood. I was finding discontentment in my daily life, although the richness and joy of Jesus was all around me. God was using me to pour into other women around me in my community and in my workplace and to strengthen the bond with my husband. Some days I missed it. Some days I convinced myself that contentment would come when my life looked like the moms I saw on instagram.

Almost three years had passed and God had not allowed my husband and I to have a baby yet. My mind swarmed with thoughts constantly. “What if we’re never able to have a baby?” “Is something wrong with us?” “God, I thought we were supposed to trust you?” I was even diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome and I had a doctor so bluntly tell me it would be very difficult for me to have children, if ever. I never suspected that our marriage would take this shape after we felt the tug to trust so strongly from God. But He wanted us to trust despite what it looked like and despite what was happening. After long sessions of prayer, my husband and I began to consider foster care and adoption. We both felt strongly about being parents and shepherding children and our eyes were opened to the great need in our community for loving families to take in children. We began to draw parallels between adopting and caring for lost children and the way God adopts us into his kingdom and cares for us. The decision to pursue this road was bittersweet, because I began to realize that God could really use us in this area, but at the same time I was mourning the possibility that we may never have children of our own. I had thought about being pregnant so often and birthing my own little one, that the idea of it never happening was altogether devastating. I battled these thoughts. “God, why would you so distinctly ask us to trust you with the timing of our family, but then never allow us to become pregnant?” I’d cry and get upset some days and other days I’d snap out of it and realize the rich gift available in being a foster or adoptive mama and how God could be calling our family to that route. 

In the mundane moments, God began to shift my perspective. I started to pray for our future little ones, whether they’d be our own or precious gifts God may allow us to foster and care for. It was a slow process, trading my desires for God’s. One day, though, I was writing in my journal and I stopped and said “no”. I cried out to God and said “no”. With tears streaming down my face, I said “no” to all of it. I said no to the discontentment in my heart. I said no to the idol of ideal motherhood that was holding me captive. I said no to the lies from the enemy about my health and the phrase a doctor had spoken over me. I wrote these words in my journal, “God, I am okay with it if you never allow me to be a mama to my own children. Please give me the strength to be faithful and obey whatever you may have for me.” That was at the end of October. In a few short weeks, my husband and I would be moving to a bigger space so that we could begin the process to become foster parents and prepare a home for the potential children that may be placed with us. Settled in our new space, we were days away from filling out paperwork when a positive sign showed up. As we looked at the pregnancy test in utter shock, we realized the miracle that God had done. Just when I had finally accepted and welcomed whatever God’s will may be, whether that included a baby of our own or not, He had allowed us to conceive. It was a beautiful representation of His timing. I firmly believe in my heart that God desired for me to reach a place of blind acceptance and total obedience of HIs plan, before allowing a little one to enter our family. He wanted me to be content regardless of the circumstances and He wanted me to lay down my ideas of motherhood before entering  into it.

We still plan to foster and adopt someday, but God has made it clear that He wants us to focus on welcoming our little boy into the world first. I hope and pray I can use the experience as a new mom to someday love and cherish other children in need, too. I am currently 24 weeks pregnant with precious Theodore Samuel and I am praising Jesus for this miracle with each passing day. This sweet boy growing inside of my tummy is not by chance. God has placed him in our care in this time, in this season, for a specific purpose. I already adore being his mama and by the grace of God, I am taking it day-by-day and allowing His truths to penetrate deep in my heart as we prepare for this next season. Now is when God is preparing us to be parents to baby Theo. No other time, but now. Despite being very sick up until about 18 weeks (insert one trillion green face emojis), I feel the presence and purpose of God as He carries me through this pregnancy. In the beginning, some days I struggled to find joy and felt guilt when I had to search hard for it as I threw up several times and couldn’t eat for what seemed like eternity. After surviving on green olives and mashed potatoes for essentially a decade, my appetite is now back, my energy is back, and I’m praising God for carrying me through once again.

I don’t know what our family will look like in one year, five years, or ten years and I don’t care. I will lift my hands and find joy in what it looks like today. I’ll sing about His strength as I fold sweet baby boy onesies and I’ll say a prayer of thanks in my heart every time I feel my baby boy leap in my womb.

“Many are the plans of a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” -Proverbs 19:21

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