I convinced myself that if I didn’t let myself want kids with my whole heart, I wouldn’t be COMPLETELY shattered if/when it didn’t happen. Just a little bit shattered is better than completely shattered…right? I set up emotional buffers for every worst case scenario. I wanted kids desperately, but I was afraid to want them. I was afraid to get too attached to the idea, because….what if it never happened?
— Wanting // Waiting // Worrying // Withdrawing: Part II
Besides getting married, having kids is the only thing I’ve known for sure that I want to do with my life. It feels like it’s been carved on my heart forever. It’s kind of incredible to think how many decisions I’ve made based purely on that desire. (1) I went to a Baptist university hoping to find a good Christian boy to marry who would would be the perfect godly husband and father. (2) I wanted to be an actor on the stage and in film, so I began school as a theatre major. During my first year, however, I discovered that I didn’t ‘want it’ as much as you have to ‘want it’ in that field. If I really wanted to act, I would have to give up a lot of other things, and I wasn’t willing to compromise having a family for a fleeting possibility that I might get my big break somewhere. (3) Even though we don’t have kids yet, Daniel and I have already adjusted a lot of our choices around a future that includes them, like where we live and what we do with our money. I can’t separate the desire from my person: it’s part of who I am. I’ve tailored my entire life around it. In my moments of career uncertainty, I’ve always subconsciously fallen back on having kids, reminding myself that even though I have no clue what I want to do with my life, having kids is the one thing I do know. It’s comfortable. It’s familiar.
So…how do I deal with the fact that wanting kids doesn’t necessarily guarantee that I’ll have them? It’s a scary reality to embrace.
I’ve dreamed about it forever: the moment when I find out I’m pregnant, sharing the news with our families and friends, feeling those tiny kicks, finding out if it’s a boy or a girl, watching my belly grow, giving birth, and holding that baby in my arms for the first time. I never imagined it any other way. I should mention at this point that I know getting pregnant isn’t the only way to have kids. But regardless, brace yourself, because I’m about to say something really un-churchy and weird: adoption was never really on my radar. I was aware of it, of course; it’s not like I grew up living under a rock. I heard all about different adoption agencies and organizations through my church, and I even knew a few kids who had been adopted into their families, and, as I got older, couples who decided to adopt. I thought it was a terrific idea. But for some reason, I hadn’t ever considered it for my own family. I don’t know why, exactly. I think I just assumed that my future family would look just like the family I was born into: a dad, a mom, and the kids they created together.
But then I met Baily.
Baily is my future sister-in-law (come on, February!) and a complete darling. Her story is incredible, and I’d love to have her share it here, but for the sake of time today, I’ll abbreviate. Basically, she was adopted into a family…in her twenties. She was already considered a grown woman, in college and on her own, and yet a couple with two other teenage children learned about her situation and could think of nothing better than for Baily to join their family. I had never heard of anything like it before. Baily brought the concept of adoption to life because she related it to the Gospel:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.” — Ephesians 1:3-10 (ESV)
How could I have forgotten this? God adopted me into His family. I wasn’t supposed to be part of the family, but He handpicked me and made me feel at home in His arms. I did absolutely nothing to deserve Him choosing me, and yet He chose me all the same. What a beautiful picture of His great love toward us, and a unique way to show that kind of love to others.
Without meaning to, sweet Baily convinced me of both the beauty and the possibility of adoption as a way to make children part of our family. I still long for the chance to physically have children, but for the first time in my life (which yes, is incredibly embarrassing to admit), I’m open to other options. My unintentional narrow-mindedness is shifting, by the grace of God.
Even after all of this, though, I still couldn’t shake a lingering, sinking feeling in my stomach brought on by one tiny little question. I’ve spent my whole life wanting to have kids, my whole life looking forward to those feelings of fulfillment that are sure to only come from those experiences.
But……………………………what if I don’t feel fulfilled?
What if I’ve spent all this time waiting for it and it’s not everything I hoped for?
What if that first baby, that prayed-for, hoped-for, begged-for baby, is snuggled up against my chest one night and I’m looking down at him or her with tears in my eyes because I DON’T have that “Ahh, this is what I’m meant to be doing!” feeling?
There it was. Finally, after all this time, there it was. The monster I was afraid to look in the eye. At last, I was forced to come face-to-face with this terrifying question. All of my worrying, all of my questions, EVERYTHING, had finally come to a head in one overwhelming, defining moment.
It doesn’t matter if I give birth or adopt. If I look for fulfillment in my children, for that feeling of total satisfaction, peace, and security, it will never come. From what I’ve observed, kids are not exactly manufacturers of satisfaction, peace, and security. Kids are wonderful and God uses them in unique ways to reveal pieces of the Gospel to us, but they can’t help but be like tiny convicting mirrors, reflecting your flaws back to you. If I look to my kids for contentment, I will never fully be at peace. I will never feel completely safe and established on steady ground. I am grossly imperfect, and my miniatures will be sinners too. There is only one Person in my life who doesn’t reflect my sin back to me when I look at Him.
Here’s the raw, unfiltered truth:
Christ. is. enough.
If I’m not able to physically have children, He is enough. If I have a difficult pregnancy, He is enough. If I am completely healthy and have lots of healthy babies, He is still enough.
No matter what, He is enough.
He is enough.
He is enough.
He is enough.
“But what if – ”
No. No more.
I have spent my entire life “What if”-ing. I can’t do it anymore. I can’t get caught up in stressing about things that haven’t even happened yet. God’s purpose for my life is not for me to be trapped in a constant web of panic, fear, and doubt. He has never been unfaithful to me at any point in our relationship, and He won’t fail me now. His plans for me are always good; I know I can bank on that.
This series doesn’t exactly have a ‘happy ending’. It doesn’t end with me being like “And now I’m pregnant and everything’s JUST SO PERFECT!”, though that would have been a neat way to announce it. :) I’m still scared. I’m scared of things that are out of my control. I’m scared of having a perfectly healthy baby and then ruining it with terrible parenting. I am the world’s worst at creating unnecessary things to worry about, but the best truth in the world is Christ is enough for me. Jesus is and always will be better than anything else I’ll ever want. Lord, make my heart believe it.
“Surely the righteous will never be shaken;
they will be remembered forever.
They will have no fear of bad news;
their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.
Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear;
in the end they will look in triumph on their foes.”
— Psalm 112:6-8 (NIV)
“The Lord is good,
a stronghold in the day of trouble;
he knows those who take refuge in him.”
— Nahum 1:7 (ESV)
“And now, O Lord, for what do I wait?
My hope is in you.”
— Psalm 39:7 (ESV)