When I was in Virginia a few weeks ago, I went with my grandmother to one of the (many lol) groups she's involved with. It's a Bible study/book study/share testimonies and devotionals/whatever the Lord leads it to be group (aka AWESOME!) They were singing worship songs that evening and it was wonderful! I was fortunate enough to sit beside a lady named Marilyn who has an absolutely beautiful singing voice. Marilyn is my grandmother's friend who was kind enough to sing a couple songs, accompanied by her guitar, at the celebration on Lily's 4th birthday last March.
Anyways, it's interesting that Marilyn went at all the night that I was in town, because apparently she hadn't been going to the group much recently. I believe it was because the Lord wanted us to connect. I was able to share with her a bit of how the lullaby song she sang on Lily's birthday has blessed me over the past year and a half. I recorded it, so am able to listen to it whenever I want. Her voice, the words, the guitar, everything about it is breathtaking. Have a listen:
Marilyn invited me over to her house one afternoon for lunch (which was delicious, by the way... they could totally serve it at Panera Bread or somewhere). My grandmother had wanted us to have the opportunity to share more of our stories with each other, so I was glad to finally be able to do so. She truly took the time to listen to my heart and to share some of her own with me. I cannot tell you how much her encouragement and wisdom impacted me. Her testimony is powerful and God-glorifying even in the midst of deep pain and darkness. I'm still processing the things we discussed. Some of the things are perhaps things I've thought about before, but it is good for them to be brought to the forefront of my mind and to hear them in a different way, coming from someone who has experiences of her own and can speak to me from a place of wisdom and maturity.
For one thing, she shared with me a bit of her own beautiful love story and how the Lord brought her and her husband together. She boldly and adamantly spoke over me that the very thing that might appear to keep me from having the sort of husband/love story I desire could be the very thing God uses to bring us together. Meaning, with all my regrets and struggles over my past, and feeling like I don't deserve a godly man, and in sharing my story so publicly, perhaps God will use that very thing to bring us together. Perhaps he too will have a passion for standing for the unborn. Maybe even having something similar to me in his past? With my own experiences and over time, I am open to marrying someone with a "past" of his own, maybe even with a child. How could I expect someone to love Lily if she were here, but not be willing to do the same? What matters is who someone is today and their relationship with Christ now.
I could hear these things from anyone (which I *have* heard and thought them before) and even if they are true, they wouldn't hold quite the same weight as a woman who married at the age of 45 and knows a thing or two about waiting. And this same woman knows a thing or two about my experiences because she has had some similar and can relate to what I expressed to her. Someone who got married at 18 or 19 and has not experienced these things could say the exact same things to me that she said and it wouldn't impact me in nearly the same way. Our words have weight when we have walked a similar road.
She also said something else to me that I needed to hear. She asked if I am okay with whatever God has for me in my ministry. Would I be content with whatever His plan is, even if it's not what I would choose or what I thought it'd be. If He asked me to give up all my dreams and desires of speaking and writing a book and sharing my story in all the ways I do, would I be okay with that? Because ultimately, my satisfaction and fulfillment cannot and will not come from anything or anyone outside of Him, even dreams that were put in my heart by Him in the first place. If He asks me to entirely surrender them, I have to be willing. I have to always hold them out with open hands because it is He who has written this story, He who holds this story, He who has opened the doors for me to share it. He can close the doors anytime He sees fit too. And I must be ready to be obedient and glad in my obedience.
I must recognize that my status as a mother does not change even if things were to become more quiet and private, even if I never shared another time publicly. I do believe God has much more for me to do in sharing my story, but if He were to ask me right now to lay it down, I honestly know that I would have a hard time letting go. Because maybe I do see some of my status as a mother in what I do for Lily and Luke. But me being a mother does not change depending upon what I do or don't do, just as it does not change just because my children are not growing up on Earth. And the significance of Lily and Luke's lives is not measured in how many people hear their story.
Not only does my status as a mother not change depending on what I do, but neither does my status as a Christian. My value and worth to God is not found in what I do for Him. He doesn't love me more or less whether or not I've spoken a certain number of times in a year. He loves me, regardless of how I view my own "performance" as a Christian serving Him.
When I shared with Marilyn different struggles I have, she said something along the lines of how being decades older than I am, relating to my present struggles in her past, she said she realizes more and more how fleeting this life is. And maybe the cares of this world start to fade as we get older and realize all the things that can feel so heavy and all-consuming are really "just an illusion" as she put it. This is just the introduction to Heaven, to Eternity, where we will spend forever, where it's really real so to speak. Those words helped put things in perspective for me and reminded me to be more Eternity-focused.
Marilyn is like a spiritual mentor/mother and I greatly treasure the time we've spent together. I look forward to getting to know her more over the coming years.
|Marilyn and I at Lily's 4th birthday celebration|
|Marilyn singing and playing her guitar at Lily's birthday celebration|