It took me years to get to the point where I stopped saying, and believing, that I'd give it all away, trade it all, change it all, to have them here.
I wouldn't give myself permission to say it.
As if I said it out loud it meant damning myself into a “truth” that I didn't really want to be a mother, that they didn't matter as much as they do, and that we didn't fight as hard and lose as much as we did to try our best to bring them into the world.
Or that we didn't have enough faith.
The reality, though?
We gained more than we lost.
Ugh, that feels so hard to write, let alone publish for the world to read.
My truth, years after losing them and ending our infertility journey without kids, is that I wouldn't trade it all to have them here.
Shit, that sentence is so scary.
And God knows, and my people closest to me know, how much I wanted them and love them still, wondering every day who they would be as seven-year-olds this year.
There is enough room for both.
It is messy and really uncomfortable.
Still, there is absolutely room for both.
This is the permission of The And - the grief and joy, the wonder and gratitude, the truth and grace.
This life I love and have fought so hard for will never discount, replace, or make up for what could have been if our three had walked this earth alongside us.
The truth is that what we gained in and through the loss of them, I truly believe is slowly gaining to tenfold, even if it isn't what I hoped, dreamed, and planned. Because no matter how much we want to read Jeremiah 29:11* from this very human mindset that God's Plans align with what we want, it just isn't what the Lord promised.
God never promised me it would turn out how I wanted.
God never promised me a baby.
God promises never to leave me and always to work all for my good.
Just like God promised the Israelites passage into the promised land.
However not before they spent 70 years in Babylon. I think it's safe to say that was not what they wanted or planned for themselves.
So let us not forget Jeremiah 29:10 while holding onto the promise of 29:11 that God is always with us and is always working for our good.
When we take verse 11 away from the context of verse 10, we minimize God's power and sovereignty. First, the Israelites had 70 years in a place they didn't want to be, second, many of them would never even make it there, and third, when we use it all to say that God promises we will get what we want - it just isn't based on the history.
Similarly, despite what some in the faith community will teach, preach, and weaponize, the strength of your belief, prayers, and faithfulness are not what will get you what you want, baby included.
God's goodness is.
And well we just don't get to determine or even know what that is exactly.
I love what Corrie Ten Boom wrote in The Hiding Place:
"His will is our hiding place. Lord Jesus, keep me in your will! Don't let me go mad by poking about outside of it!"
It's a dangerous message that our faith will get us what we want. And the saddest part is that thinking this is doing severe damage to our relationship with God.
Because for the longest time the thing that held me back from the loving grace of Jesus was what felt like the hardest question of my life: What does it mean when God is the one you need to forgive?
For far too long lies like: We didn't get a baby because we didn't pray hard enough. I wasn't even Christian then and still, am not Christian enough. I don't deserve to be a mother. I did something terribly wrong. God is mean, punishing, and unfair.
These lies kept me angry, in the dark, and worst, not turning towards the loving God that had been there the whole time, just as They promised.
Chad and I didn't not become parents because we weren't faithful enough, pray hard enough, or believe enough.
We didn't not get a baby because God is punishing, because our sins were just too bad, or because we didn't deserve one.
We didn't get a baby because we made the nearly impossible decision to stop treatments before they destroyed everything good about us.
We didn't get a baby because we finally surrendered to God's plan in reclaiming our truth, honoring our three, and glorifying Him. We did the work to finally receive the bigger plan God has for us and let Him love us into building the legacy we are now.
Always for our good.
The Israelites had seventy years in Babylon before returning to Jerusalem, and we live without our three to leave an aroma of the Kingdom behind us in this world.
Always for our good.
What if we had kept going until we got what we deemed was God's will, in the definition we wanted so badly and paid so much for, a baby?
What if infertility had worked?
Would I have still met this loving Jesus?
Would I have made all the life changes I needed to practice happy and be who I was created to be?
Would our marriage have survived?
Would our finances had ever recovered?
I know that God is always chasing us down, pursuing us, loving us into the loving arms of Jesus. No matter how long it takes. No matter how messy. No matter how much we push it all away.
Jesus will always leave the 99 for the one.
If it weren't for tens of thousands of dollars spent, three lost babies, a body broken from synthetic hormones and a grief so dark I wasn't sure I would ever be able to stop crying, yelling, and get out of bed again, I would not have met this Jesus in the way so many of us finally do.
Sitting beside Him by the well, broken, flawed, messed up, mad, and utterly human. Sitting beside a man, both God and human, asking to be seen, begging for answers, flailing angry punches, demanding fairness, and most of all, being in the presence of an empathic love of 'I see you and get you.'
Jesus looking into my eyes and speaking our truth in total love,
Daughter, I know this is not what you want and it doesn't feel fair. I promise I know your pain. I get it. I was always there, and I will always be here. I am here now. And when you are ready to bury this pain so something new can grow, to receive your own resurrection, I'll show you how.
*This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:10-11 NIV