Let me tell you about a small, but beautiful, picture of God’s redemption and how sweet He is to me.
Sometimes, the goals/expectations/limitations/conditions that we put on ourselves are so ridiculous. They can seem so arbitrary, or excessive, or purposeless, if you stop to think about it.
One expectation that I clung to not so long ago was that I wanted to have my first child before I turned 30. This was a really big deal in my mind. I always wanted to have children while I was still somewhat young for a lot of reasons – so that their grandparents would be around longer, so I might have easier pregnancies with a younger body, so Will and I would become empty-nesters then grandparents at a younger age, et cetera. This is not a bad goal. But it almost became an obsession for me, a line in the sand, a sharpie circle on a calendar.
Will and I have enjoyed our early years of marriage so very much. In 8 years, we have been blessed to be able to travel and have so many wonderful experiences with just the two of us. We have learned so much about each other and ourselves; we have learned how to communicate and resolve conflict; we have enjoyed so many nights of spontaneous trips just to have dinner together. I wouldn’t change that for anything. But when we decided to start a family, it was because I felt the proverbial clock ticking, and wanted to still be a younger mother.
There have been times that I have wished that we had started trying sooner. I’ve thought that if we started growing our family sooner, then by the time I got to actually have a child, I would be younger than I am now. But God, in His great love and mercy, has taught me time and again that this was His plan, and He brings redemption to my story.
You see, the idea of having a child before 30 had become an idol for me, in a way. It was something that was inflexible and that had to happen, like an ultimatum. When we began having the miscarriages and periods of waiting, and the fact that this would not happen in my timing became evident, I began to become very fearful and obsessed with that looming deadline. I calculated that I had until around September of 2017 to conceive a sustainable pregnancy in order to have my first child before I turned 30.
And how ridiculous is this? I mean really, is birthing a child at 29 years and 11 months any different from 30 years old? Of course not. But something about that number 30…it was just inconceivable to me to have my first child after 30.
I remember even telling someone that I felt like I had set this up as an idol in my mind, and that what would probably happen is I would birth a child right after I turned 30. I meant this as if God operated to have the last laugh, or maybe not allow us our hearts’ desires. Of course, I knew that this was not true about God’s character, but I guess I was a little bitter. But it seems that God, in His infinite wisdom and mercy, has basically allowed it to turn out just that way. I will give birth sometime in the month after I turn 30. Ironic?…no, providential. Let me tell you why.
I heard a sermon in 2012 about how God relentlessly destroys each and every one of our idols until all we have left is Him, and He is our ultimate joy. And I am forever grateful that He does this for us. It is not something that we have the power to do on our own, and sometimes we don’t even recognize our idols for what they are. Sometimes, for instance, things we turn into idols are essentially good things, but the fact that we place them before God makes them not good for us. Having a child at a younger age would have been a good thing, and there is nothing inherently bad about that. But the fact that I had set it as an immovable goal in my mind, something that HAD to happen, and felt that I would be dissatisfied unless this happened, was a problem. I had placed my plan and my will above that of my Father’s. And this is always something that is dangerous and grieves our Father’s heart.
So, here we are. Once that “point of no return” loomed closer and closer back around August/September of last year, I began to realize how ridiculous this goal I had set really was, and I began to come to terms with the fact that I would not have a child before 30. As I began to release this to God, I truly began to have peace about submitting to His will and timing instead of my own. Around this time, we had decided to not only continue to pursue having a biological child, but also to pursue the adoption process, knowing that adoption can take a very long time. And I was at peace with this as well – knowing that we have always had the desire to adopt at some point, and recognizing that God’s plan is better than mine, I was content to wait and see how His plan would unfold and how He would choose to bring about our first child.
Of course, this is when I conceived.
One of the first things that I did after discovering that I was pregnant was to figure out when I was due, and I laughed when I realized it was after my birthday. But, finally, I had true peace about my birthday coming and going, not caring for once that I would be 30 when my first child was born. I was simply grateful and elated to be having a healthy pregnancy and believing this was God’s plan for us. I also realized that my due date with this pregnancy was July 24th (which my doctor has not changed, even though he was measuring ahead), which was my due date with my very first pregnancy. This too felt like a little bit of redemption.
Can I just tell you about how God has redeemed this birthday I dreaded once I gave it over to Him? He is so sweet to me. The calendar lined up to have my baby shower on the day after my birthday. My parents, who live 5 hours away, wanted to be here for my shower, so that meant that they would also be able to be here for my birthday (which rarely happens!), as well as my brother, my husband’s siblings, and some best friends. I had one of the sweetest, most fun, most relaxing, and most wonderful weekends with my favorite people in the world. I have never felt so celebrated, so loved, and so utterly blessed as I did celebrating 30. To anyone/everyone who had a part in making me feel incredibly cared for this weekend, I thank you from the bottom of my heart!
God pours out His grace on us when we least deserve it. I never would have imagined that my 30th birthday would be the sweetest and most memorable, or that I would be completely okay with having my first child in my 30’s. I’m so grateful for this small redemption story, which all points back to the larger redemption story of Christ redeeming us for eternity. So next time you recognize an idol in your heart, no matter how small or innocuous it seems, this is my advice (and I’m preaching to myself here!): release your grip, hand it over to the Lord, and watch as He redeems what you thought you needed for something so much sweeter.
Here’s to a new decade; may it be full of the presence and goodness of the Lord, first and foremost. He is ultimately all I need, my deepest love, and my greatest blessing.
Photo taken by my gorgeous-talented-amazing best friend Katuschka of Reclaiming Eden Photography, based out of Atlanta. She shot our maternity photos on my birthday, and I don’t have any other photos from the day really, so I thought it was fitting. For me, this is what thirty looks like!