Attitude adjustments

I’ve been (very!) slowly reading through the Bible over the last couple years, and right now I’m in the book of Acts. This morning’s chapter was the story of Peter’s vision of unclean animals and God’s call for him to take the Gospel to someone he never would have associated with on his own. It got me thinking about God’s power to change our attitudes.

It happens often for me, in different ways. I might be sitting in church when words from a sermon suddenly strike home. Sometimes a casual comment or well-timed advice from a friend will provide a shift in perspective. Maybe it’s just that still voice in a quiet moment, helping me see myself and the world more clearly.

My process in our embryo adoption experience has been a big lesson in God’s ability to change my perspective. I started out flatly rejecting the idea, mostly because it didn’t fit the plans I was busy making. It’s pretty amazing to look back on how God moved me from rejection to embracing embryo adoption. He was clearly at work.

But it’s been a longer process than that. It would be misleading to say we made our decision and never looked back. Our counselor told us several times that you can be excited about new opportunities while at the same time grieving a loss, and she warned us that grief is not a linear process. Sometimes little things can trigger feelings you thought were over. She was right, as she always seems to be. The thing about infertility is that every option involves a loss of some kind. We did grieve even as we moved forward with embryo adoption. More than once, I felt a stab as I saw myself or Jon (mostly Jon!) or maybe even a grandparent or uncle in my son and mourned the loss of that experience with our next child. We wondered how well other people would relate to what we were doing and whether our child would face extra challenges finding her place in the world. We grieved the loss of “normal,” whatever that is. In fact, there was a time somewhere in the middle of the process – I think around the time we were reviewing donors – when we both were questioning enough to need to walk through the entire decision again. We started at the beginning and talked about all our doubts and questions. What if finances weren’t a factor? Would things be different if we waited another year or two? After going over the whole process again, we came out in exactly the same place. This was the right choice. It was where God was leading. After that, things were easier.

I suppose, keeping in mind the counselor’s warning, there will probably still be some difficult moments ahead. But God has brought me to a place of peace and joy. Knowing He has led us here gives me such confidence in the future. In the way only He can, He changed my attitude to match His plan. Throughout this pregnancy, I have felt such a bond growing with Baby Girl, and the fears have faded away. I love the incredible way she came to us, and I love that someday, I will be able to tell her how she was chosen for us, before those tiny cells even began dividing.

A beautiful surrender

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.