I am a planner. I remember writing out a timeline, sometime around three years of marriage, of exactly when I wanted to have our first, second and third kids (at ages 28, 31 and 33, for the record). Yeah, I know. I realized even at the time that this was pretty silly. Somehow, though, it made me feel as if we were progressing toward the goal of parenthood.
You can imagine, then, that having parenthood delayed by years of infertility required an adjustment. I had some lessons to learn.
I want to be clear: I don’t believe difficulty originates with God. Heartache and loss come because we live in a world of sin, so far from God’s ideal. We live, for the moment, in the enemy’s territory. But I believe God DOES use the troubles that come to help us grow and to eventually weave the circumstances of our lives into something beautiful.
I kept a personal journal, in the form of letters to our unborn child, during those years. I remember writing an entry at one point that said something like, “I want a child more than I’ve ever wanted anything.” The next morning, I read in my Bible the story of Elijah fleeing for his life after Mt. Carmel. His dramatic self-pity at that low point in his life suddenly seemed uncomfortably familiar. I read how God lovingly cared for Elijah’s physical needs. And then He provided a reality check, for Elijah and for me. There were things more important than Elijah’s comfort or even his safety. God had bigger plans, and Elijah had an important role to play. It dawned on me that having a child was not the thing I wanted most. I most wanted my life to matter in the way it can only when God is in control. If God chose to give us the child we prayed for later than I’d hoped – or never, I forced myself to face – I still trusted Him. I knew, but needed to be reminded, that what He could do with my life was better than anything I could plan for myself.
That reality check came back to me over and over again in the many months still ahead before Corin became a part of our lives. And it came back to me yet again as we faced difficult decisions about our next child. What is faith if we stop trusting the moment we can no longer see the future clearly? God was teaching me to let go of my need for control and to trust completely in His love for me and His ability to make something of my life. I wish I could say that I know now exactly what His greater purpose was – or is – for me. That part still isn’t entirely clear. But I do know that in His time and in His way, He is giving me the desires of my heart. And along the rather winding trail, He is teaching me to see beauty I might have missed had I rushed by on the direct route.