Over the past couple weeks, I have had a very low energy level, limited mobility due to pregnancy related leg & pelvic pain and the most intense desire to sleep that I’ve ever experienced. My 18mo son is gracious with me. Earlier today he covered me with his stuffed friends and noisy toys while I sat in my chair in the living room. He was content to bring me the books he wanted me to read and occasionally even put them back on the shelf when he was done listening. When it was nap time, he pointed to the music and fan which we turn on before he goes to sleep, picked up his security blanket, “Buddy,” and held onto the crib until I placed him in it and left the room.
I’m not sure if he knows that I can hear him in my own room, as he talks with Buddy and the other toys, or if he is aware that I’m listening to his singing and playing.
Thoughts While My Son Is Singing
This was not the plan. I was going be a successful businesswoman, living on the opposite side of the world with a large number of frequent flier miles. I planned on dating a successful young brain surgeon in my mid twenties. I was specifically not going to be a mom or a youth pastor’s wife, and definitely not supposed to be establishing roots in the Midwest United States, let alone in a small town in Wisconsin. And I was going to have a dog. I still don’t have a dog.
I am one of those people who loves to make lists. I write to-do lists, idea lists, grocery lists, lists of more lists. I write them on paper, type them into my phone, share them to my computer, and repeat them before bed. Sometimes I even write sub-lists in the margins of larger lists. I love lists.
When I was in middle school, I made a very particular list of all the characteristics necessary for the person I wanted to marry. In my mind, this list needed to include everything from appearance to occupation to motivations. It would also add to the lists of goals and plans that I constructed to direct the path of my life. I was pretty positive that all of my lists were not only attainable, but that everything would happen exactly according to them, and each of them on my own timeline.
Needless to say, God had other plans.
In short, I was married during the last year of college, one year after we had postponed our first wedding date. Six months later, I found a very unexpected plus sign on a pregnancy test. 8 months after that, my adorable preemie son arrived. While on maternity leave, my husband took a second job so that we could barely pay our bills and was rejected from the 90th church that received his resume. That fall, both my childhood dog and my beloved grandfather passed away. My son didn’t nurse well, so he became undernourished and we dropped breastfeeding. We were totally humbled and deflated, hanging on to the very last drops of happiness that we could find.
Through this all, I was blessed to have great friends and family who reminded me of the joy, who listened to my rants and also rested on my shoulders (sometimes consoling someone else can heal my own heart immeasurably more than a hug that is meant only for me). These friends also reminded me to remember that God’s plan is for good (Romans 8:28). Even when it felt the hardest to believe them, it was true.
There’s a song that always seems to play on the radio or in the church service directly following or in the midst of heartache in my life. The lyrics to the song “Blessed Be Your Name” are as follows:
Blessed be your name in the land that is plentiful, where the streams of abundance flow. …Blessed be your name when I’m found in the desert place, though I walk through the wilderness. …Blessed be your name when the sun’s shining down on me, when the world’s all as it should be. …Blessed be your name on the road marked with suffering. Though there’s pain in the offering, blessed be your name. Every blessing you pour out I turn back to praise . When the darkness closes in, Lord, still I will say blessed be the name of the Lord. …You give and take away , You give and take away. My heart will choose to say, “Lord, Blessed be your name”
When this song began to play, I used to do at least one of the following things: stop singing, sit down, start crying, leave the room or turn the station. In that moment, I would focus on the words near the end of the song… “you give and take away” and I would think about what or who the Lord had taken away from me. I wondered who or what He would take away next. I could only focus on the desert places, the wilderness, the suffering and the pain. I couldn’t bring myself to truly praise or bless the name of the Lord. My disdain for this song (and my frustration with God), continued until one day while I was sitting in church and watching the lyrics roll across the screen. I heard a new part of the song that day… “I turn back to praise.”
In the midst of our trials, yes, we need to bless the name of the Lord, to tell Him our burdens and trust Him with them… but we don’t have to feel perky and perfect and full of sunshine and grace. Yes, we thank Him for all things in all times, but sometimes that means that we will turn back after the hardship has passed, whether or not we realize the significance, and we will praise Him for things more glorious than we could ever have planned or imagined with lists or spreadsheets… things that might not look glamorous, but things that are good.
If we “lean in” to the pain, if we allow God to work in our suffering, he is faithful to produce good fruit in us (Philippians 1:6) and our lives may not look spotless or lovely, but they will be truly beautiful because of God’s work. It’s a good thing. That song still hits a raw nerve somewhere inside me, but it’s no longer a tune I dread, and I can even bring my lips to sing it sometimes.
As I prepare for my second baby, “Littler Lindy,” I have made lists upon lists to get ready. I’m really far more prepared than I was with my first as we have all of the baby furniture, clothes, some diapers and other necessary baby items ready in their places. I’ve written my birth plan (another list, and more of a goal than a plan really), I’ve typed instructions for care of my toddler and I have all the emergency contacts and numbers neat and handy. Hospital bags are (nearly) packed and major freelance projects have been wrapped-up. At a little over 36 weeks, I am ready for “Littler” to come any day. I am as ready as possible. I’m also well aware that anything could happen. I can’t really begin to fathom what will actually come to pass in and through my children. Just as I did not know my first son would come early, would dislike nursing, would sleep through the night at a young age, would walk at a “late” stage, would melt my heart with a simple utterance of “mama” or light up my whole existence with a twitch of his eyebrow and a tiny teeth revealing smile… I cannot know what will happen in his future and I know even less about baby number two.
While my son is singing, I remember what I do know: God is in control. He has a plan, His lists are better than mine, He is faithful, and it’s a good thing.