Sunday, June 4, 2017

Even When He Doesn't Do What We'd Define as Good

Mothering my Lily-girl looks like tidying her grave and getting new decorations for each holiday and fresh season. It looks like sharing her story at banquets and churches. It looks like creating things, like scrapbooks and a garden. It looks like purchasing or being gifted things that are reminders of her. It looks like candlelight ceremonies, butterfly releases, and remembrance walks. It looks like her name in the sand all over the world from friends, family, acquaintances, and strangers. It looks like projects and remembering other babies in her honor. It looks like putting together comfort boxes, attending funerals for babies, editing photos for parents who've lost their babies, emailing, texting, and talking on the phone with other mamas missing their babies.

I find purpose and healing and joy in all these things. I find connection with Lily and feel Jesus smiling as I learn to comfort others with the comfort I have received. I find honor in being called to treasure life and speak about the sanctity of life in all these ways. And more than anything, I love Lily and most especially Jesus in all these things. I never want to stop... but honestly my heart feels a little weary some days more than others.

After all these years, I'm usually rather content with my "relationship" with Lily now and the ways I mother her. But some days, like today, my heart longs to mother more than a grave and legacy.

7+ years feels like it should have been enough time for God to teach me whatever it is I need to learn in order to be "ready" for marriage and more babies I get to bring home from the hospital. It's hard to hear of others getting married and having children and rainbow babies who are much younger than me and have not waited as I have. It's difficult to not compare and doubt, to not feel like there's something especially wrong with me that is taking God longer to work on than others. This is such a warped way of thinking. We.... I... must reframe my thoughts and heart and realize that we are given good gifts not because of some merit or worthiness or our own, and these gifts are not withheld because of some lack of our own.

There isn't a "destination" that I am failing to arrive at in order for God to finally give me these things. I am not lacking. I am not failing. These are all gifts, freely given by the good gift-giver.

Don't these lies creep into our hearts and penetrate our thoughts so sneakily? We must be on guard and continue holding our all out to Jesus with open hands and a surrendered heart, full of trust. We cannot see and understand everything He is doing and the "why" behind it. There's no way we can figure Him out. He is good even when He isn't doing what I would define as good. He knows what He's doing even when I think His glory would be best displayed by writing my story a certain way, a different way.

I can continue living a full and purposeful life, even if it is not like anything I would have chosen. Even if i never mother another child here on Earth, my child waits for me in the Kingdom of Heaven, and that is more than I could ever deserve.

I am reminded of something I shared about a year ago... re-reading it is a blessing and encouragement to my heart, so I want to share it again...

At just the right time, the Lord brought me across a video testimony that has encouraged me, built up my faith, and left me in a puddle of hopeful tears. Watch the video below (email subscribers click here). I'll share my thoughts below the video.

Although our stories are different, many of the things they shared in the video are things I can relate to and feelings I'm wrestling with. Their story ministered directly to my heart.

The gist of the story is this couple grows up together, even living across the pasture from each other part of their childhoods. The husband is older than the wife, so as they are growing up, he thought she was a squirt and she always thought to herself that one day she'd want to marry someone like him. Little did she know, one day the Lord would bring them together as husband and wife.

When he was 12 years old, God gave him a vision of a little girl with dark skin and eyes. He showed him that this was going to be his daughter and her name would be Chloe. He kept this tucked away in his heart for years. He had assumed that he'd marry someone with a dark complexion.

One day they are sharing their hopes and dreams with one another and she tells him that she already has a name picked out for a hoped-for daughter... Chloe.

When they were married, they decided they were ready to have children. Only, they couldn't conceive for 4 1/2 years, which was understandably extremely painful for them. She put into words something that I too am feeling right now, but didn't even realize it until I heard her speak the words. She said as they were longing for a baby and not getting pregnant, she struggled with questioning God's goodness because she felt like it was such a mean thing to do, for God to withhold children. She wondered if God is good even when He's not doing things that she would define as good? I am not dealing with infertility, but I am weary from all these years of missing Lily and all these years of praying for a godly husband and the circumstances where I am able to have another baby. I must confess that it feels like God is being mean to me and treating me differently than His other children. He took my daughter away from me and is leaving me isolated and lonely. In my mind, it seems that His goodness would be displayed by writing a story of redemption, in bringing me together with a husband and having children to raise in the ways of the Lord.

They were talking about their hopes and dreams for the future and she said she felt like God made her to be a mother, that was her dream... They prayed that God would take the desire away if they weren't meant to be parents, but instead it seemed to only grow stronger. That is my dream too and I wonder, why won't God take this dream away if I am not meant to mother a child on Earth? The ache and longing almost feels too much to bear at times.

All their friends were having kids and she "had to just wait and put on this cheesy, fake smile and say we're happy for you." Each time they'd hear of someone getting pregnant, they would be devastated and think they were "fools who want kids and it's never going to happen." Oh man, can I relate to this. Literally day in and day out, I am surrounded by so many people getting into relationships, getting engaged, getting married, getting pregnant, having babies, having more babies... and I feel like I have to put on this cheesy smile and say I am happy for them. Now don't get me wrong, I truly am happy for those who have these gifts. But it hurts so badly wondering why God won't give me these good gifts too. Am I a fool who thinks I'll have a family of my own one day? Each time I see another person close to a decade younger than me in a relationship or someone who announces they are pregnant with their "rainbow" (a baby born after a loss) though I am many years further out from losing Lily, I can't describe the ache. I literally have to "unfollow" people because it just is a bitter reminder of what I am missing out on each time I see their photos and updates.

The Lord led them to pursue adoption (though the father was adamantly against it at first) and they got an email that a birth mother had chosen them to adopt her baby. Get this, the little girl was due in March 2010, when Lily was due and born. They went to meet the birth mother and she shared that before she even knew the gender, she had been calling the baby... Chloe. God had given that name to all three of them. It is precious to see the actual video footage documenting that time in their lives. Hearing this reminds me of how the Lord spoke so clearly to my heart very early in my pregnancy that my baby was a girl and her name was Lily. He so evidently knows our babies by name and has a plan and purpose for their lives.

She shared during their years of infertility and longing for a baby that God shifted her perspective and she realized she could live a full and happy life and be satisfied in the deepest way a human can be satisfied, even without having a child. I am praying that the Lord will give me the peace and contentment in knowing that I too can be fully satisfied and live a beautiful life, even if I never get married or have another baby. It's a painful possibility to even consider, but I know that it's true that my fulfillment comes in Christ alone.

These are some things spoken in the video that deeply touched my heart... After the Lord led them to adopt Chloe: "This surreal presence of God was all around us and I felt Him saying to me, 'see how much I love you? Do you see this, do you see what I've done? I've been writing this story. You had no idea. I've been writing this story for years, since Walt was a kid, I've been writing it.' I realized how foolish I was, how my perspective was so skewed in my own pain that what I saw as Him not loving me was in fact Him being the most loving He could have been.... It was like He was whispering to me in that moment, 'I've been here this whole time. You didn't know, but I've been here this whole time. I've been walking this thing with you and I was just saying, 'trust Me, trust Me, trust Me.' I've got something good up ahead."

"It's a constant struggle to just sit in His sovereignty and when everything is falling apart in your mind, just to wait.... He doesn't leave anything to chance. It's not random."

"I think God is just incredible. I think it's incredible the way He flung the stars into space and that same God, the same God who keeps the world from falling apart, He loves me, with or without us ever having a child. That's what He's taught me through this. He loves me and I can be so secure in that love. To be able to trust that and rest in that is the greatest gift."

Their words and story are a reminder to trust my Father's plan for my life. He walks with me. He is writing my story, even when I don't see Him doing so. My perspective is skewed by my pain, but I know He is still there. He is asking me to trust Him. I am to wait. Every small detail is in His hands. As the saying goes, "hindsight is 20/20." I believe one day I will look back and clearly see God's fingerprint on each season of my life, in everything.

This Scripture has been resounding in my heart and mind lately, like the Lord just keeps planting it there, showing me that I can trust Him...

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." -Isaiah 55:8-9

It is comforting to meditate upon this truth, that my God knows what He is doing. I can only see my immediate circumstances and concerns, but He sees the entire picture, my entire life. Even though I don't always understand what He's doing or why, I know I can trust Him. He is in absolute control over everything that touches my life.

Please pray for me at this time, that I will keep turning to the Lord and not give into listening to the doubts and discouragement that the enemy keeps whispering in my ear.


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