I walked out of Chile's this afternoon completely stuffed and ready for a carb-overload induced nap. "What a waste," I thought as I reflected on the quesadilla I regretfully ordered. On my quest to live adventurously, I ordered something from their menu I wouldn't normally order. Why not, right? Well, I didn't like it. It's not that it tasted badly, it just didn't offer the flavor packed, mouth watering sensation that the burger on my husband's plate across the table had. Though it crossed my mind to switch plates with him when he wasn't looking, I realized that would be futile and I ate my own food. When we finished, I had nothing more in mind than coming home and curling up on the couch with Ashton to watch a movie. However, since I passed "Jasmine" street on the drive home, my mind has traveled elsewhere. Have you ever found yourself in a moment where you're significantly impacted by something so seemingly trivial? Like a street sign? Maybe you once loved someone named Anita, but for ten years have been happily married to someone else. One day you're driving home from work but with the commencement of new road construction you find yourself on a detour into a neighborhood you've never previously been. As you flip through the radio stations barely paying attention to your surroundings, you're brought to a four way stop. While you drum your fingers on the steering wheel to the latest new pop hit, you look up to see you're crossing over "Anita" street. In an instant, you're taken back in time to a place where only you and Anita existed. Has anything like this ever happened to you?
This wasn't exactly the effect "Jasmine" street had on me, but close. It didn't take me back in time, but rather into the future. As Ashton chattered incessantly on the 20 minute drive home, I struggled to hear anything he said. His voice sounded far away and my focus was intently placed on the baby girl I may never have. For a long time now, I've had the name "Jasmine Abigail" picked out for a girl, should I ever have one. However, it has recently become a painful reality that I may not ever get to have another child. Just be thankful for the one I have, right? Trust me, I am, but I would be lying if I said I didn't want to have just one more. My desires for another child aren't entirely selfish, however; I would love nothing more than for Ashton to grow up with a brother or sister. As it is, though, another baby isn't possible at this time. I've been bitterly resentful of the situation on even my best days, but until today I believed I had let it go, at least for the most part. However, as I crossed over Jasmine Street, my eyes tempted to fill with water and my heart began to break. Seems letting go "for the most part" isn't letting go at all.
I remember when Ashton was born. It was both the happiest and the scariest day of my life. He was born two months premature and I didn't know whether or not he would survive. Though he came home in just three weeks after being born, the first year of his life was an emotional roller coaster. I never had time to consider whether or not I would want another baby some day because my focus was so obsessively on him, his health, and the overall whirlwind of first time motherhood. I honestly don't think I planned on ever having more, but in the last five years the day finally came. I began wanting another child, but for reasons known only to God, it's not possible, at least in the natural. I find myself torn between unhealthy levels of resentment towards the situation and peaceful gratitude for whatever it is God sees that I don't. Perhaps my body can't handle another child? Maybe God is saving my life by denying me this one request?
Though I don't believe punishment is the reason, I have considered the possibility that God is denying me another child because of what I've done in my past. I had an abortion when I was 18, and 13 years later it's still not easy to openly say or write. It was my freshman year of college and I was irresponsible, careless, and quite frankly, stupid. Not such a nice word, but honestly, I have no better way of describing my behavior at that time. I drank recklessly, partied constantly, and moved from one relationship to another. Making the decision to do what I did nearly killed me afterwards. However, I believe a portion of my punishment was received the day I went through with the procedure when I opted out of anesthesia. When you lie on a small table, perfectly conscious and aware of what is being done in that situation, something inside of your soul dies along with the child. As tears sprang from my eyes and I covered my own mouth to muffle my screams, I became intimately and frighteningly aware of what was happening. The sounds, images, and pain are forever seared into my body and mind. I don't look back and recall waking from a deep sleep while the doctors aborted my child. No, without the anesthesia, I lived through every second of it and the physical pain, though it was severe, has never compared to the mental, emotional, and spiritual collapse that followed. "Was that my Jasmine Abigail that I helped murder?" I've shamefully wondered in recent years. (This is a topic and story that will eventually have it's own entry, but not today)
No, I don't believe God is punishing me, and to dwell too long on those thoughts is not only unhealthy, but also quite destructive. Maybe before I knew Him I would have thought so, but I don't believe He would have given me my amazing and beautiful son under the circumstances He did if punishment were His core reason. Even more than that, however, is the forgiveness I've since received (Romans 8:1; 1 John 1:9). What I've concluded is that I may never know why He is forbidding me another child right now, but whatever His reasons I know they're good (Romans 8:28). The negative energy and bitter resentment are battles I face regularly, but in all things we're given a choice. I can choose to be resentful for what I don't have, or I can focus my attention on what I do have. I don't have Jasmine Abigail, but I have Ashton Jacob, the most beautiful and precious son for whom I could ever ask. I could resent the reasons for which I'm not able to have another child and destroy my marriage, or I can be ever grateful for the cup I've been given that daily overflows with love. Most importantly, however, I can continue hoping in the Lord that one day I'll meet the girl I plan to call Jasmine Abigail.
Whatever you do in this life, don't ever lose hope because without it things become not only dark, but also very dangerous. If your hope is to have a baby, keep hoping. If in ten years you're still without child, keep hoping. If you conceive but miscarry, keep hoping. If doctors tell you it's impossible, consult the Doctor in Heaven and put your hope in Him. Holding onto hope isn't a refusal to accept reality. I accept that God may never give me another child, but not until I leave this world will I stop hoping that He will. I accept that it's not His will for my life right now, but I hope one day it is. "Well, then why bother hoping if things may never work out?" you may ask. Simple. Hope keeps us alive and going. If we're not hoping in something, we're not truly living. I don't know that I could even abandon my hope for another child (and believe me, I've tried) but I do know that, despite my best efforts at different times, I don't want to. Imagine living, really living, without hope. What do you see? Once hope is completely burned out, so is life. Hope is absolutely beautiful and life giving. Hold onto it no matter where you've been or where you are, and if you need forgiveness for something you've done, focus your attention to 1 John 1:9 (below). Hold onto hope and hold onto Him.
"Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see." Hebrews 11:1
"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:9
Image taken from www.nouthetic.org