Tuesday, July 16, 2013

To Plan or Not to Plan?

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I've always been a planner. Whether or not I actually carry through with a plan, I have always been one to make plans. I feel scattered and lost without at least having a plan for many aspects of my life. In other words, it comforts me to know what's supposed to happen. For example, even something as simple as running a few errands compels me to formulate a plan. I list out all the locations I want to go to and then write numbers next to each location to tell me what order I should go to each one to maximize the efficiency of my driving route.

If I'm that crazy with errands, you can imagine how much I planned for big decisions in my life. When we married over 6 years ago, our plan was to enjoy the first few years together "just us." We were both wanting to finish school and a baby was simply not in the plan. Birth control pills were the method of contraception we chose. It was the method with the highest probability of preventing conception - the method that was most likely to keep us on the path of our child-free plan. I've always been meticulous and responsible, so it was no trouble for me to take the pill at the same time every day without missing one.

I took the pill for the first 2 years of marriage, but experienced negative side effects (depression, low libido, nausea, etc.) that made us decide to change our plan. We switched contraception methods to a less certain one - condoms - in 2009. Still sticking with our child-free plan, we knew there was a higher chance that we might get pregnant using condoms than taking the pill, but we decided that was best for us overall.

It's not that I didn't like or want kids at all. They were definitely part of the plan in the future, but not yet. And if I'm honest, I wasn't starstruck about kids. Sure, they could be cute. But they could also be completely and utterly gross. Sticky. Smelly. Slobbery. Worse behaved than my dogs. I was very timid around kids, and had no desire to hold other people's kids. But I figured I would love my own kids someday, hence why they were in my plan. Plus, the way I felt about kids at that time was more like "you're supposed to have kids" not "I want to have kids." (Michael shared my same mindset.) As you can see, God had some work to do in our hearts.

About a year later, I experienced a very late period. I was so scared that I went to the doctor to have my blood tested for pregnancy. I don't know why, but I didn't think about taking a home pregnancy test first. (I think God knew what events needed to take place, so maybe that's why the thought never entered my mind.) We were both very nervous about possibly being pregnant. What would we do?! This is much earlier than we'd planned for. Could we afford to have a baby now? Are we mature enough to raise a child? The what-ifs were endless. I received a phone call from my doctor's office with the test results.

"Your pregnancy test came back negative."

My heart sank. I felt...disappointed. Disappointed?

I couldn't believe that was my response to the test result. Not being pregnant was in line with our plan, so why would I feel sad by the test result? It made no sense to me. But now I know that it was clearly God working and moving in the depths of my heart, stirring a deep rooted desire to be a mother. Metaphorically, he awoke a sleeping giant.

Since that day, my desire to be a mother has only grown. And so from that day forward, my plans changed. I wanted to be a mother as soon as possible.

At first it was I alone that held this desire. Michael was not yet ready to even consider trying to conceive a baby. I still have my old prayer journals full of prayer after prayer that God would work in Michael's heart, help him to be open to becoming a father and gain that desire for himself. I tried to talk about my desires with Michael so that he would be fully aware of how I felt. I was ecstatic when he finally relented in December 2010 and agreed that we could begin trying to conceive.

So I made my new plan in that moment: get pregnant right away and announce it Christmas morning to our families. It would have been magical. There would have been tears and hugs and tons of excitement.

But it would not have been right, because it was my plan and not God's.

Since entering the realm of infertility, God has moved mountains of stubbornness in my heart. Mountains so large and deeply entrenched that I never thought they could be moved. But He is God after all. Most powerful, yet most gentle. Unwavering in His plans.

He taught me that it's okay to make plans, but only if I remain open to His plan above all else. That's the hard part to apply in life.

When you struggle with infertility, there are so many overwhelming decisions to make. What tests and procedures to try, when, with what doctor, how much are you willing to pay, when do you decide to move on to the next step, etc.

Planners like me can be very tempted to make plan after plan and keep trying to force their plan into existence. But at some point, you must stop. You must yield to the unyielding God. You must let him move your mountain of stubbornness where He pleases (which is out of your heart). You must trust that He has a plan, that it includes you, and that His plan will truly be the best one. And then the hardest part, you must decide to choose to follow His plan instead of your own.

I continue to struggle with this, but I recognize and am thankful for how far I've come in this struggle. I know how stubborn I used to be, how hard I fought to keep my plan in place.

But I reached a point where I finally relented and decided to let go of keeping my plans in first place. My desires to be a mother have not changed. My desires to conceive a biological child have not changed. But pretty much every other part of my heart has been forever changed.

I no longer look at kids as just part of the plan. I no longer view adoption as a charitable act of kindness. I know better than to pry into other couples' family planning ("So...when will you guys have kids?"). I know that if I do end up conceiving a biological child, that child is never going to truly be mine, but the Lord's. I know that whomever ends up being my child, it is the purest form of a blessing from God, and I should be grateful day in and day out at having the honor of such an important role as a mother.

Most importantly, I know that all of this pain and heartache is ultimately meant to bring glory to God and all His goodness. He has been so faithful and gentle in dealing with this stubborn planner in yours truly. He took a girl who was lukewarm about kids and transformed her into a woman longing for children of her own yet seeking God's will even if it does not line up with her plans and desires. He took a boy who had superficial and unrealistic views about children and molded him into a man with a deep heart's desire to be a father and to teach his children about the glory of the Lord. He took a marriage that likely would not have survived had we conceived according to my plans, and transformed it into a lasting and beautiful expression of grace. He made us partners. He showed us that children are not to be idolized because all good things come from God, and He deserves all the glory, not the object of the blessing.

As much as I think my plans are best, I believe His plans are even better, and I want nothing more than to allow Him to carry out His plan in my life.

Jeremiah 29:11
"For I know the plans that I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope."

The Latest Update On Us:
We are loving our new diet and lifestyle and plan (lol) to stick with it for life because we believe it's the best way to honor our temples, no matter the outcome (hoping for biological conception but whether our journey ends with conception or not will not change our decision to adopt a plant-based diet). I don't think we ever would have been open to adopting a plant-based diet unless we'd experienced this trial, so praise God for that.

We have been plant-based for almost 9 months, and although we have yet to conceive, we are not interested in pursuing any form of medical procedures to help us conceive. We have felt the Lord confirm in our hearts that He wants us to keep waiting at this time. The only way we will include the medical field in our family planning is if the Lord clearly moves us in that direction.

We are open to God's will, whatever that may be. We are open to adopting, but will not pursue adoption until we feel Him leading us down that path. Adoption is not an easy process. It will require an extensive amount of research, financial planning, and emotional commitment. We have decided to wait until December 2014 before we begin to research the adoption process, unless the Lord moves us to act sooner (or later) than that time. This is an example of me making a plan because it brings me comfort to have a date to look forward to (December 2014), but God's plan and timing come first. We will ultimately do what He wills, when He wills it.

Thank you to those who continue to pray for us. We are grateful for your love and friendship. We look forward to seeing what God has planned for our lives.

Hope & Love,

1 comment:

  1. I think it's exciting that you have a tentative date for considering adoption. I love having something big to look forward to! It sounds like you guys are doing well. Just wanted to drop a line and say hi. I will continue praying for you guys! May God grant you the desires of your heart.