There was a day this summer when I had my three little boys at the pool by myself. The two oldest were swimming and playing, my toddler was kicking around in his floatie having a blast, and for the first time since having children, I was actually just watching them and relaxing, instead of freaking out that someone was going to drown.
Now I had just returned from watching my sister have her first son, and it was weird to be thinking of my children as the older cousins. But in that moment, I had the thought. “Lord, it makes me sad to be done with having babies, but right now I see the beauty in finishing that phase and moving on to the next. Things do get easier. Children do grow up. Things change. But change can be beautiful. Wow, I’m done with little babies. And I’m peaceful and happy with that.”
Then I found out I was pregnant with our fourth COMPLETE SURPRISE baby two days later.
As a wife, as a mom, as a woman of God…I always like it when most things in my life are going smoothly. Actually, I often crave it.
Times when the water is calm. The noise is low (or in my house on a less than loud level). The worries are far from my mind. Times that seem to meet the criteria of the “good” life. How life is “supposed” to be. Times that just make you feel peace in your soul.
But realistically for me, those times in life are more of an anomaly than something I have grown to count on. Yes of course I experience them for periods, but then they pass and I am left with the next thing. An adult dilemma, a parenting issue, a relational complication…something that seems to change my world from feeling peace to concern.
“So what is that rash on his skin? Maybe it’s something serious.”
“He doesn’t seem interested in books. Is he going to flunk out of preschool? I need to add an hour of reading to our daily regimen.”
“This ones sticks his tongue out a lot. Is he subconsciouly taunting me? Or is it a poor muscle tone issue? Or is he going to end up with a rare airborn disease if he doesn’t learn to keep that in his mouth?”
“Should I be working? Am I setting a good work ethic as a mother?”
“I have not talked to that friend in forever. Am I being a good friend? Should I invite them over? Oh my gosh. They ARE mad at me.”
And speaking of mad, I used to feel mad at God when these times would come and wreck my peace. (Who am I kidding? I still get that way now.) “Lord, can’t I just sit and relish in this peace a little longer?” Am I not allowed to feel good about everything for forever?! Please. That is my request! Make it so.”
But no matter how many times I pray this, a lack of any complications in life still never comes. And I’m always left with one thing.
I find myself saying, “Alright, God. If you’re not going to make this easy. Then I guess I’m just going to have to pray about it! If that’s what this has come down to.”
Then I do. And I pray A LOT. And I regroup. And I reevaluate and reset. And often watch as things begin to solve themselves before my eyes. And then I thank God. And laugh. And repent.
When I found out I was pregnant with my fourth baby and then my worst first trimester nausea set in a week later, sheer panic about how I could do four may have been the most accurate way to explain my feelings. Sure I was excited, but I felt so unequipped. “I can’t even get up off the couch to make dinner for my three….how am I going to take care of a baby?”
Then I began to pray, and give my panic to God. And I can honestly say, I still have not one logistical thing figured out about four, but I am absolutely JOYOUS at the thought of having my fourth son. I can’t thank God enough for this surprise. I feel gleeful. No exaggeration. Because I gave it to God.
Why is it that it is so hard to grasp or remember that God doesn’t want us to do it on our own?
Why is it that we always assume that the right way is when things are so good we don’t need God?
All the while God is saying, the “right” way or “the good life” is both when things are going perfectly or things are going terribly, as long as you are doing life WITH ME. It’s like He says, “When you rely on me, and not yourself. I come through for you. You see, you don’t need a perfect life for peace. You just need me.”
So today if you are in the middle of some worry, crisis or loss, I want to encourage you to lift your worries up to God. Ask for peace. Ask for joy. Ask for answers. Ask for wisdom. Ask for what you need. Or ask for nothing at all. Just ask for him.
I gave him my fear. And he gave me back joy.
That’s how it works.
So get to praying. And see what he delivers to you this Thanksgiving season.
“You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy.” Psalm 30:11