I had never planned to have children. Then I met Michael. When we discussed children, he said, "God loves life." We talked about God telling his creatures to be fruitful and multiply. Suddenly it seemed so clear: God wanted me to have children -- I wanted to be fruitful, not barren -- and God would give me what I needed to be a good mother. The God who gives life to the dead, who gave babies to barren women (Sarah, Hannah, Elizabeth) certainly could change my heart.
Then John came along, and then I felt angry at God for not keeping up his end of the bargain. (I know that this isn't theologically correct, but it's where I am still.) Arguably, he's done what I expected: John is a beautiful, happy child, so apparently I'm able to give him enough, with the help of God and other people. But it's been torturous! Not because of John -- I think it's God's grace that he is as easy as he is -- but because of my own brokenness. If I'm following God's will then why is it so excruciating?
I was discussing this with one of my sisters, who said it bothers her that I blame God for my own responsibility in choosing to have a child. She's got a good point: God didn't force me to do anything. And I am responsible for my false ideas about what motherhood would be like. We talked about how to know God's will. It's a hard question for me. I wonder how much following God's will means being the person he created me to be, and how much of that is who I am today vs. who I can become if I let him stretch me. Honestly, I think that having a baby was/is God's will for me, and that I need to accept how difficult it is as part of God's gift.
I didn't know it when I chose to have a child, but John is, in addition to a beautiful, sweet baby, God's little instrument of sanctification in my life. Nothing has humbled me like this experience. Nothing else has shown me how selfish I am. And I have no right to complain that this is excruciating. Not only is all discipline painful, but my true desire is to follow Jesus, wherever that takes me. Today, Good Friday, we remember how in his death on the cross, Jesus bore the excruciating pain of the weight of the sin of the world on his broken body. (Doesn't excruciating come from the word for cross, perhaps in Latin?) My own suffering pales in comparison but also shows me my need for a Savior more than ever. If following Jesus leads me through a few months of hell, so what? Eternal Easter awaits.