Updated: Mar 21, 2019
When I was younger I did not want the mess, the noise, the chaos, or the financial burden of children. And I was under the impression that I could be in control of this area of my life ( as if we are really in control of anything.)
When I was in my mid-twenties, I began reading about Catholic teaching, and I became convinced that this area, like every other area in my life, needed to be put in the hands of God. At that point, I had not even met the man who I would marry, but I was already nervous about allowing God to do what He would. When I met my husband and we got engaged, we discussed our hopes for our future family. We thought that we would have about 10 biological children, and then adopt maybe 10 more, possibly a large sibling group so that they would not have to be separated.
When we got married, we expected to have our first child 9 months later, but when I did not get pregnant I began to really wonder what God was up to. I thought that he had brought me to the point where I was ready and willing to accept loads of children so that he could give me loads of children, but I continued to wait for a baby with tears and disappointment every month. Ten months after our wedding, I finally got pregnant and miscarried the baby early on. I was devastated. Two months later, I miscarried our second child, and a then months later, our third. Why had God converted my heart into that of a hopeful mother if he was not going to give me any children?
As friends congregated and discussed their children, I felt empty and sad. At one point, our priest asked us in an accusing tone, “Why don't you have any children yet?” I burst into tears and a torrent of questions about what God was thinking. Over the next year we attempted to adopt twice, and both of those adoptions fell through, one of them after we had our little girl with us for 6 months. I said to my husband, “I think that God doesn't actually want me to be a mother. Perhaps the reason I never wanted children was because I wasn't going to be good at taking care of them.” It felt so unfair, because I had been happy not wanting them before my change of heart, and now I was miserable and longing to be a mother.
But God had more in store for us, and we went on to adopt two beautiful children. My desire to be a mother was fulfilled. Over the next few years, we lost a baby during the labor to placental abruption, but I also gave birth to two gorgeous, healthy baby girls.
A couple years ago I found out I was pregnant again. I was completely overwhelmed with the four children I already had, especially with of all of the doctor's visits and therapy that my kids with trauma histories required, and a series of very violent outburst that required an in-home intervention and a lot at help. So I was not happy, and I felt guilty that I was not happy. I went over to my best friend’s house and collapsed in tears, not knowing what I was going to do with another child in the middle of the mess. After good counsel, prayer, And spending time in Adoration, I became resolved. After a few weeks, I even began to grow excited. When I was 12 weeks along, however, I underwent a painful miscarriage again, this time more like actual labor then I had experienced in the past. Again I was struck with how discomforting it is that when I finally said yes joyfully and willingly to God's plan, the rug was jerked out from under me.
But that is the thing about saying yes to God's plan. You really are saying yes to not knowing, to not being in control, and to being OK with whatever He gives you because you trust that He is your loving father and will only do what's best for you. Each of my kids was an amazing and unexpected gift. Nothing about our family plan happened as we had expected it to, but it happened exactly as it was supposed to.
On Monday we will celebrate the Feast of the Annunciation - one of the twelve major feasts of the Church - when the angel Gabriel came to Mary to tell her that she was chosen to be the mother of Jesus and she gracefully accepted God's will for her life. How little she knew about what she was saying yes to! But she said it, and Christ became incarnate.
God wants to use our yeses to be world-changing and life-saving, too. It is a good time to re-examine our response to God, and to pray that we have the grace to emulate Mary's willingness to say yes, even though we have no idea what will come of it.