This post is the third in a series called The Gap. Please click here to read from the beginning.
We were driving home from church. It was a bright, sunny day and the roads were quiet for a Sunday morning.
‘I’ve been thinking…’ I wasn’t sure how to have this conversation. We were a year out from our decision to halt our adoption plans. We were loving life and rarely spoke about adoption or children. I had been wrestling quietly on my own, deeply longing to reach the point that The Len always seemed to return to: if it ends up just being to two of us, I’m okay with that. I had never understood his quiet peace about it. Even now, broaching the conversation in the car, I didn’t fully understand but I had a question I needed to ask him.
‘I’ve been thinking about that decision we made last May,’ I continued. He was driving and I was able to watch his face. His lips tightened reflexively.
‘And you want to start the adoption process again,’ he finished, clearly disheartened. I smiled.
‘Actually… no.’ For future reference, is it not recommended to have these conversations while driving.
As I fumbled through my explanation that perhaps we were right where we were supposed to be, I leaned in to ask my question: ‘Do you not feel guilty about that? Does this not feel horribly selfish?’
I had moved from confusion and uncertainty and bone-grinding pain to niggling, irritating guilt. It nibbled at my contentment and plucked at the threads of peace that held my heart together. On those days when infertility pain would rear its ugly head, I would silently recite everything I loved about our life… spontaneity, sleeping in, not having to share The Len, not needing a larger house, not facing all the relentless burning questions that inevitably arise with infertility and parenting.
Everything about my list felt selfish. My list made parenting sound like a world of petty annoyances even though I knew it was more than that. Was I too selfish to tackle it? There were millions of orphans needing homes… so many thousands in our own city. Was I choosing lazy Saturdays or popcorn for dinner because I preferred sleeping over rising to comfort a crying child?
Len’s answer was simple: ‘If God does not intend to crown our marriage with children, where is the guilt?’
And therein lay the heart of my problem: in learning to embrace our life as two I was adopting a similar (though somewhat less severe) attitude as I had when we pursued parenthood. ‘This is my plan, Lord,’ I cried, ‘Please place your stamp of approval here, with some indication of when it shall all come to pass.’ In my mind, I was working through this in order to figure out what I was supposed to do with my life. A small part of me understood that this was well beyond anything my little heart or mind could have dreamed up, but I was still intending to sort through it all on my own. Guilt included.
Since the beginning of time, however, God has been far better at handling guilt than we have. Washing it right away? That’s His best, most beautiful, most perfect work. ‘That isn’t yours to carry,’ He whispers, ‘Let Me take that.’
The Len had quietly placed his desire to be a father in the same Hands he had placed his desire for a wife. Had God not blessed him with a wife, he would not have lived a selfish life. Marriage isn’t easy, nor is parenting. Living a life without one, the other or both should not give birth to restless guilt.
That Sunday conversation reminded me yet again that a life lived for the Lord desires His will first and lives from the confidence that regardless of what that life brings, He will provide us the grace, strength and perseverance to live it for Him.
Please tune in next week as we explore the many other emotions that came with this adjustment.
If you have specific questions as we go along, please leave a question in the comments and I would be happy to address them.