Tomorrow will be March, the month we meet our son.
It felt so far off for so long, and now it is here. I can hardly wrap my mind around that. Is it possible to feel so ready and anything but, all at once?
I had so many ideas how I would spend this past month; all the things I would get done, all that I would accomplish and check off my list, all that I would have organized and settled before we entered this season of newborn life.
But instead, the month of February was filled with sick days. First, there was a sick week for my husband and I. Then, my daughter caught a bad cold. And I’m finishing the month with a cold myself. There was so much more rest than I would have chosen. So much less productivity. So much more laying on the couch. So much less of what I would picked for myself and our family.
I found myself having to surrender again and again my own ideas of what I thought I needed. It felt like a daily struggle to hand over what I thought what would be good, and what I’m told these last days of pregnancy should hold for me.
In the midst of all that I didn’t want, when I stopped clenching my fists around my ideas about what would be best, I found something beautiful. When I opened my hands to what I’d been given, I found grace.
I saw Jesus using a sick week at home to give us some beautiful family time. For the first time in months, we had space to enjoy quantity AND quality time together. Our daughter couldn’t have been more thrilled to have both her parents home for an entire week, days full of snuggling and snacks, books and movies, cozy on the couch.
I saw Jesus using my cold to slow me down and remind me that I am more than the results of my efforts. Did it matter that my floor was dirty? Did it really matter if we ate cereal instead of a meal I would have spent 45 minutes preparing? When I let myself sit in the grace, I knew it didn’t really matter. The things I wanted to get done were only things I wanted, but not things I needed. They weren’t things that gave me worth or value. Sure, a clean floor and homemade soup & bread might have been nice, but it didn’t matter.
I saw Jesus using my daughter’s sickness to give us time , just the two of us before her brother comes. We enjoyed such simple things together as we stayed at home, giving her time to recover. We drew pictures and had pretend picnics and drank tea.
How often does Jesus use the things that we desperately don’t want in order to give us what we need?
All I have to do is look at my own life and there are too many times to count. Some of them feel “small” in the grand scheme of things, like this past month of sickness. Others feel so much “bigger” as I can see the Lord bringing about pivotal moments in my life by giving me something I didn’t think I wanted.
It was difficult to believe that God’s best for me in this season of my life was something so downright foolish in the eyes of the world. That his best may be the very thing I wanted with all my heart to avoid. That his best is often what the world tries to convince us is our worst. (The Lucky Few, 55)
This month I read one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. I’ve followed Heather Avis for a while now on her Instagram account, taking delight in her transparency as the mother of three adopted children, two with Down Syndrome. But I’d only had a taste of the beauty of her story from her photos and captions. The Lucky Few is her honest, stunning story of what happens when we say yes to Jesus, when we open our hands and hearts to what he says is best even if it isn’t what we want at all.
As Heather shares her heart, her specifics, her dreams and what it cost her to surrender those dreams to Jesus, she invites all of us to do the same with our own specifics. I found myself laughing and crying to see my own life through this redemptive lens, where the things we don’t want turn out to be what Jesus uses to transform not only our own lives, but the lives of those around us. Heather paints the most redemptive picture of what happens when we invite Jesus to tell our stories; Jesus turns our mess into utterly beautiful beyond our imaginings. I am utterly grateful for her courage to live and write her family’s story.
So on this, the last day of February, a month that went so differently that I would have chosen, I can’t help but smile and see how Jesus gave me exactly what I needed. He gave me time with my family. He gave my heart and body rest. He gave me the reminder that I am loved not for what I do, but for who I am. And he gave me the story of someone else’s faithfulness to tell my heart that I am not alone in saying yes to him.
His story is always the best one.
And so often, his story looks nothing like what we think we want.
It is costly and feels scary.
It is often uncomfortable and without the assurance of promising results.
But it is always, always the best one.
As I look to March, I’m reminded of all the unknowns and uncertainties that come with birth and newborn life, with any big life transition. Yet, I’m grateful for the peace that comes when I say yes to Jesus. It isn’t just for show or because I want it to be true. It is a deep settling in my soul that comes only after I’ve surrender what I want and trust whatever the Lord chooses to place in our hands. Here’s to March!
As we headed home that evening, I began to think about the difference between coming to terms and coming to grips. I thought about all the times I had failed to grip the thing God placed in front of me or the thing he allowed to pass through my door. How many times had I made demands about what God was calling me to do? How many more times would I try to negotiate God’s best than than grip what was right in front of me, no matter how terrifying?
Friends, we are talking about God. God, who loves us more than we can ever understand. God, who wants more goodness and wholeness for our lives than we could ever want for ourselves. (The Lucky Few, 72)
Friends, I haven’t stopped talking about The Lucky Few since I finished reading. Heather’s (& her husband, Josh’s) humility and courage prompts me toward living with similar humility and courage for the things Jesus asks of me. (And it has only renewed my hope to adopt someday, although probably not right now, since our son could show up anytime, ha.) Their beautiful book comes out March 21, but if you pre-order there are a few freebies you get. Or if you want to read the first chapter (which completely hooked me with its transparency and tremendous story-telling in those first pages) you can get it emailed to you. Either way, this is a book I wholeheartedly recommend, and not just to those who struggle with infertility or are interested in adoption or any of the Avis family’s other specifics. I recommend it so strongly because it is the story of what happens when we follow Jesus. It is messy and imperfect and breathtaking with its grandeur, the kind of story that only can come when we say yes to Jesus.
*I joined up with Emily Freeman and What I’m Into at Leigh Kramer’s blog as they share what they’re learning and invite others to do the same as February comes to a close. What a gift to reflect and learn together!