When I got pregnant three months into marriage, I did not feel even remotely ready. I remember feeling utterly shocked. I was still blissfully happy to just be in the same location as my husband after months of long distance dating. I hadn’t even had begun having thoughts of babies yet. How could one appear without me thinking about it, even a little? As with many major transitions, there were moments of human emotions, like panic and fear. In one such moment, I remember telling my husband how I did not feel ready at all. He responded by asking me when I would have felt ready.
I entertained this thought and wondered about what my plan would have been if I was calling the shots. I quickly dismissed the current year, and the next year, and the year after that, and the year after that. I considered when we might move and possible career switches for both of us. I thought about the responsibility of caring for and educating another human. By the time I had finished “mapping” out my readiness quotient, I had determined that I would be ready probably around when I was just about hitting menopause. Even in my nervous, not-ready state, I could appreciate the irony of what my heart wanted. I remember being frustrated and simultaneously incredibly relieved that the Lord had intervened and given us our girl in his timing, and not mine, since I never would have felt fully ready.
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this idea of being ready. I’m someone who likes to be prepared and have a plan. I typically have an extra granola bar in my bag in case we are hungry and waylaid. I have an extra diaper on hand when we go out. I like to have an idea of what is happening and to be able to prepare for it. Sometimes this is incredibly helpful. It means there is usually good food at normal meal times and changed babies. But it is also can make it hard for me to trust the Lord. I ask him what’s next, and instead of giving me a plan, he just asks me to show up. I ask him what I need to bring and what training I’ll need, and he just asks me to just say yes. He says that he’ll take care of the rest.
I hate that answer. Because it usually means that I’ll feel incredibly inadequate. It usually means I’ll cry a lot and not know what’s coming. It means usually that he’ll ask me to do hard things. It means there’s no such thing as the perfect timing. It means I’m not in control.
But here’s the thing about feeling ready. It isn’t real readiness. It isn’t really being prepared. I trick myself into believing that I know what’s coming, when I honestly have no idea. I have no possible way of being truly ready in the story Jesus is telling, apart from Jesus.
A dear friend is a year ahead of me in the journey of parenthood. She also had gotten pregnant sooner than they felt ready, about two months into being married. I hoped that she would be able to offer me some wisdom on how to be ready when you feel anything but. The truth she spoke to me around my 7 month mark was spot on. She told me that parenting isn’t any different than anything else Jesus calls us to. It is just part of the Christian life. She challenged me to not make it bigger than it is, but to see it in the context of what it looks like to obey Jesus, to trust and to follow him.
I don’t think the Lord asks us to be ready. When I look at the people he picked to do big things, they usually aren’t an obvious choice of someone who is prepared and qualified. The guy with a stutter gets to talk to Pharaoh and lead thousands of people. The prostitute gets to be one of Jesus’ ancestors. The cheater gets to be the father of God’s chosen people. The murderer gets to help write the New Testament and is an apostle. I wouldn’t say any of them were “ready.” Their past record doesn’t seem to scream that these people are the best person around for what they’re being asked to do. But it doesn’t seem to matter. It doesn’t seem to matter that they are a mess. In fact, those seem to be the kind of people Jesus likes to use. I like the way Brant Hansen puts it: “God is at work, and the way He works is shocking: He raises the humble, the weak, the unlikely. He says, “THIS is how you lead,” and then He washes the feet of a motley bunch of liars, betrayers, and sinners with no earthly status whatsoever.”
I’m fairly convinced that being ready is a myth. If I wait to feel like my life is in order before I start loving people, it will never happen. If I wait until I feel put together before I follow Jesus, I never will. If I’m looking to know what I’m doing before I jump in, I’ll never leap. Being ready isn’t what Jesus asks of me. Being willing is.
This weekend was a rough one for my heart. I think I’m wishing Jesus let me feel more ready before he put me into the arena. I’m wishing he gave me the road map before he asked me to be brave. In the midst of my tears, I felt him whisper these things to my heart:
“I love you. You don’t have to be ready. I’m enough for you.
You don’t have to have it all together or know what’s ahead. In fact, it’s better if you don’t. I’m not telling you what’s next or why because I love you, not the other way around.
You may feel ill equipped and unprepared. I have been getting you ready for this, even if it doesn’t feel like it. You’re not the same person you were the last time you were here. I’ve changed you. And I’m still changing you. You don’t have to know what tomorrow brings. You don’t have to feel ready. You just have to say yes. You just have to trust me.”
I wish I could say trust came easy for me. But it doesn’t. Maybe that’s part of being human. But instead of getting distracted by how hard it feels or how unready I am, I’m working on just saying yes to loving the person right in front of me. Just showing up to the next thing that Jesus is asking me. Just being here, today, now.
That’s my prayer. When I feel like a hot mess, when I’m crying in the shower, when I feel anything but ready, my prayer is that I would keep saying to Jesus, “ready or not, here I come.”
And trust him with the rest.