Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Getting rid of "what if?"

 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Ephesians 6:12 

I have made a lot of decisions based on the words "what if?" In other words, fear. And I didn't even know I was doing it. When my son was born, it was the best time of my life. A mom was all I ever truly cared to be. It's great to work and contribute in other ways, but overall, the only thing I knew I HAD to be was a mother. I finally had my baby. He was my greatest joy on earth. 

By the time he was 9 months old, his developmental delays started showing up, and I began to see that my mental picture of motherhood was in reality turning out to be something very different. Right after his first birthday, the diagnostic process began. And at 19 months old, before our blood work came back to tell us anything further, we got the diagnosis of autism. Right after his second birthday, we found out the next part. He had Fragile X Syndrome, a genetic disorder named because of damage to the X chromosome that causes global developmental delays and sometimes autism, as was the case with Lucas. The worst pain came from finding out that he inherited that disorder from me. Something I had never before even heard of in my life had apparently been passed through the genes of my family for generations without knowledge to any of us. So with a broken heart, I told everyone that I could not have any more children. 
I love Lucas and have often said that I would not have traded the experience of having him just the way he is for anything else, and I mean that. But two kids just like him would be quite a hand full. I couldn't possibly give birth to any more children because WHAT IF the the next child had Fragile X too? 

So clearly, adoption would be our next step. Yes, I always believed adoption was a wonderful thing and my husband agreed. We had heard about many families who adopted though foster care with ease and no cost. So that would be our plan. We thought it best to take it on when Lucas entered kindergarten. Yes that was the plan. Lucas needed a sibling and adoption would provide. 

This story would become way too long if I told you all the ways adoption in different forms did not work out for us and why. I kept praying that God would open some door or show me how we could do this. I prayed for him to lead us to the right child who needed to find their home with us. It just never happened, even though I felt like God was leading me to pursue it in different ways. I kept asking Him WHY and WHEN things would change. In desperation, my mind started going to IVF, in which we could go through the expensive process of genetic selection in order to reduce our risk of Fragile X being passed on. But it felt too much like "playing God" to get into that and the cost was astronomical, just like many forms of adoption. On some random night in November of 2015 I was in my bed reading. I was reading a book about someone experiencing a miracle, and throughout it were scattered Bible verses related to each aspect of their story. I read the following piece of James 4:2

"You do not have because you do not ask God." 

Suddenly, the voice of God flooded my heart and mind and I was left in shock. He told me that we had never once asked Him if we were meant to adopt, we had simply decided that without consulting Him. I could hardly believe that we had made that kind of life decision without asking if it was right. We really had just assumed that it must be what God wanted us to do. Then I heard God say that if we wanted another child of our own with no disability, He could have provided that if we had asked Him. We didn't have it because we didn't ask. 

The next morning, when I told my husband about it, he agreed that shockingly enough, we had never prayed about it and just concluded that not having any more children ourselves was the responsible thing to do. He didn't hesitate to believe that God knew our need for Lucas to have a sibling who could be his friend in life, who wouldn't share the same challenges he had. So from that day forward we started asking God for what we had not before, and we began trying to conceive. For month after month we were disappointed. I especially wanted this new revelation to come to pass quickly because my mom's health was failing and I really wanted her to meet her next grandchild. Finally, after about 10 months of trying, I saw the positive pregnancy test I longed for. For nearly an entire first trimester I endured the regular symptoms of pregnancy but on my ultrasounds, things were not looking good. They could not find a baby growing, and I was diagnosed with blighted ovum. The day before my birthday, a second ultrasound confirmed that despite my many prayers and believing God for a miracle that this was the coming to pass of His promise, no baby would be born. Less than one week later I was in the hospital because the blood flow during the miscarriage was out of control. It was the worst birthday and worst September of my entire life. 

After that, I felt some anger towards God and kept wanting to know WHY he would lead me to this choice if this was what was going to happen. And I never thought when I was lying in that hospital bed or following up with my doctor that I could try this again. I was already old anyway, and what if I had heard God wrong? What if He didn't mean to say what I thought He said? What if He never really intended for me to have another child at all? 

Despite my fears and my emotions, God began the work of repairing my broken heart sooner than I could have imagined. Although I was angry and didn't know how to pray, I watched some revival services that Elevation Church was having online that month. Christine Cain was the first person who spoke healing words from God to my heart. She spoke about some painful things in her past, and declared that there was no denying that they happened. But then she asked the question, "why would you let one event from your past define your future?" And I almost felt like I could hear God asking if I would keep trusting Him to do what He said or if I would be too afraid because of that one thing that caused me so much pain. 

Then I did an online Bible study with Proverbs 31 Ministries around the book Wait and See. The author confirmed to me that just because it sometimes takes what seems like forever to see God's promises to us come to pass, that does not meant that we heard Him incorrectly. Rather she said that doubt was a tool of the devil to get us to stop believing God and following His instructions for us. 

My mother's passing was another thing that opened my eyes to how short life really is, and that it would be foolish of me to allow fear to get in the way of my dreams and God's promises. I began to feel confident that I needed to make the most out of this life and never let fear be the reason I didn't try something. 

In my reading one day, the Lord spoke to my heart again, through a reading in Job. After Job had lost everything, the Lord promised that He would restore it all to Him. There was one verse that I took from it as mine. I felt like God was telling me that He would also restore what I had lost in the hospital that day in September. And then, In December, and final Word sealed my decision that we could not be afraid to try for another baby. 

It was while listening to Elevation's service again. Pastor Steven Furtick delivered a message called "There's More to the Story." In it he detailed the story of the woman whom Elisha promised she would have son after years of being infertile. She did. And years later, the boy died. She believed that God was just going to have to do something about this and she called Elisha to help her. Her son was raised from the dead. The pastor illustrated through this that sometimes bad things have to happen before a true miracle story can be made. He said while life itself is a miracle, it's no big deal for a woman to have a baby. That happens every day. But sometimes a baby has to die before there can be a miracle. It couldn't have been any clearer to me. I listened to that message the first week of December. That was the first month my doctor had said it would be safe for us to try again. And so we did. And so we conceived. The first time we tried after all the past failure...the first time we took a step of faith after losing, it worked. 

The verse I opened with is there because the devil has still tried to talk throughout this pregnancy and he asks me what if the baby doesn't make it? What if he is born with the same disorder because I heard wrong? What if God does not do what I hope he will? Praise God that I can say the voice of truth overpowers "what if?" I know that God can be trusted and whatever He has in mind is going to be good. I know that all these things happened the way they did and on the crazy timing they did for a reason. None of it seemed right to me. I wondered why God couldn't have revealed this truth to me years ago when we kept trying to adopt.  But God is on time and He will always do what He promises. I am so thankful that He works through people the way He does and for all the things that he brought me to for comfort, peace and the courage to go forward. That verse in Job about restoration? Last September I lost and experienced the biggest disappointment of my life.My new baby is due September 3rd. Whenever he decides to make his entrance, I have a feeling this September will feel very different than the last. Isn't that just like God? His goodness is astounding. 

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