Edward Albee, the playwright, said something years ago that’s always stuck in my head.
“Sometimes it’s necessary to go a long distance out of the way in order to come back a short distance correctly.“
I could never understand it because I heard it before I’d lived it. Now? I understand perfectly. I learned the hard way that God’s not a genie in a bottle, He’s not a microwave and He’s not my own personal Magic 8-ball. His job isn’t to satisfy my every desire and fulfill my every whim. And sometimes, He’ll take us a long distance out of the way in order to bring us back a short distance correctly. In fact…
…He will take us out to bring us in.
I’ve wanted lots of things in my life, good things mostly, but none so much as a big family, messy and delightful like big families often are. Children and babies under my feet, crayons, crumbs and chaos, toys strewn, laundry in piles, play dough stuck to the kitchen table. My very own Five Little Peppers all lined up on Easter morning, scrubbed shiny, with little man suits and lacy dresses, patent leather shoes and bow ties, marching into church. My own fuzzy ducklings and me one proud mama. Big family blessings filled with fights and friendships, noisy meals around a big farmhouse table, toddler kisses and scraped knees. My heart, my dream.
He had a different dream for me and my husband, not one we would have chosen but when do we ever know what’s best for us?
We didn’t know when on Labor Day 26 years ago, I would nearly die from an ectopic pregnancy, exploded fallopian tube and all.
We didn’t know as we wept over the infertility diagnosis.
We didn’t know after they did the test where they shoot this dark dye into your nether regions to see if the surgery to open the stubborn tubes held.
We didn’t know when the dye didn’t shoot out of the tubes as it should have but pooled into a stagnant, evil rorschach blot that mocked our pain.
The doctor was clear and clinical, dismissive even, in his diagnosis.
“You won’t be able to get pregnant again.”
Have you ever actually felt your heart break? My future collapsed that day, my dreams imploded as hot tears gushed and hope crashed. “You can always adopt.” He said. Crash. My ever stalwart husband did the best he could. We lived in New Jersey then and our doctor was in Philadelphia and whenever we had an appointment, we rewarded ourselves with legendary Philly cheesesteaks. That day was no different. By force of habit and love of food even when our worst nightmare just came true, we drowned ourselves in hot chopped steak, gooey provolone sauce, caramelized onions, mushrooms and soggy french fries and drove home shattered. Full but oh-so-empty.
God, in His wisdom and graciousness, had given us one amazing daughter 2 1/2 years earlier and now He was saying to us, can that be enough? But it wasn’t, not for a long time. This mama’s heart was broken and recovery was long, and 3 failed adoption attempts later, painful. I learned, albeit slowly, how God always has future generations in view. I learned the hard way that our futures are often about something bigger than ourselves.
God knew in time healing would come and baby announcements and showers wouldn’t be pure torture. Going into Babies-R-Us wouldn’t generate a rush to get-the-hell-out-of–there-before-I-break-down panic every time I had to buy a baby present. Self-pity, my favorite bad feeling, gnawed at my heart like a rabid dog with a bone, reminding me Who was really to blame, Who it was who wouldn’t give me the desires of my heart.
Eventually though, I began to heal. As our daughter grew she started revealing gifts and talents that astounded us and God began to show us how to dig deep and bring out those gifts, polish them up and offer them to the world. I wrote a whole book about our journey raising her. It’s called Growing Great Kids: Partner With God to Cultivate His Purpose in Your Child’s Life.
He showed us her life was going to be a public one, her ministry large and far reaching and she would need our full attention to help her get there. We began our journey together discovering the music business and learning all we could to help her launch her dreams.
After years of holding God hostage for not living up to my expectations I began to realize the value of what He’d given me. At a women’s conference I heard Him whisper clear as a bell in the midst of my pity party,
“Am I enough?”
And it broke me. He slipped out of the box I’d worked so hard to close Him in and did the unexpected. He gave us one child with a world class gift, one with a purpose far bigger than I’d imagined and He said, “Can you take this on? Will you? Will you be satisfied with the road you’re on no matter where it leads?” Then He took my heart hostage as He whispered, again,
“Am I enough?”
God never asks a question He doesn’t have the answer for so like Moses, I let Him answer.
And He is. He’s everything and there’s nothing I’d trade for the life I’ve been privileged to have. He taught me the most valuable lesson of all–to love Him for who He is, not for what He gives. In spite of my slow to learn heart, God gave us an incredible and loving child and now a wonderful son-in-law and 2 precious grand children who are my absolute heartbeats. And I get to enjoy plenty of crayons, crumbs and chaos. My 2 little peppers, precious little ducklings with a Mimi and Poppy devoted to the moon and back.
And that’s how He answered my prayer for children. It was a no, but qualified. It took me a long time to get it through my thick head but eventually I did. And today I’m grateful, so very grateful that He took me a long distance out of the way in order to bring me back a short distance correctly. What about you? What broke your heart that made you love Him more? Are you in the midst of heartache now? I’d be privileged to pray for you.