Since it's been so long since I've written, I should probably introduce myself...
Hi, my name is Samantha and I love Ticonderoga pencils, peppermint tea, and houses whose paint is old and peeling. I live in a small little town in the house of my dreams and I love orange. My husband is the funniest person I know and our families are made up of the nicest, most genuine people either of us has ever known. I am an artist who is afraid to hang anything on my 130 year old walls and I'm pretty sure I know all 1030 friends on my Facebook page. I am an English Lit teacher to some of the greatest kids around. My Sunday school class is amazing and my car passed emissions the first time this year, bless the Lord.
There. That's better.
But I can't get away from this one, tiny little thing: my son died almost two years ago and it is that, my almost-motherhood, and a deep love for my God, which continues to define this new woman that I am.
I've gotten several email messages and a couple of FB posts reminding me that it's time to get back to writing. My husband even asked me earlier today, "Do you think maybe you need to go write tonight?"
The season is starting to change-- grass is starting to sprout up in weird places, little tufts of baby green all over the yard, and the trees are sporting tiny nubs of possibilities. Some of the cherry blossoms are even starting to bloom. Surely the dogwoods are next. Our neighbor's pink and red camellias began blooming two weeks ago, and I wonder why my white ones bloomed in the dead of winter when theirs are just now here. So much birth and life, sprouting up and out. When it's not relapsing into winter, this is what my friends and I like to call "porch weather." We sit, like hens, all lined up across the front of my cozy porch, cackling and talking and solving all the problems of the universe. There are plenty of babies to hold and people we know honk and wave as they drive by. Outside is where everyone wants to be this time of year. It's good to be alive in March in the South.
But just as rebirth is happening all around me, there is a deep unrest still stirring in my soul, and it's hard to get away from. I've pointedly avoided the topic in my blog, but it's time to face it: I don't know if I will ever have another baby, and I have to learn to live with that.
I should share the fact that, whenever this subject is broached aloud or just in my head, I feel the need to qualify the statement. I know that I have friends who have not had children and likely never will-- some of them have chosen that route and have peace with it, while others longed for children and for whatever reason never had any. We all have our stories. For me, I always assumed that I would have children. Don and I wanted them (and still do). I have no idea how all the years got away from me-- one day, I looked up and I was 37 and pregnant for the first time. And then I was 38 and the mother of a baby who had just died at birth. And then I was 39 and about to celebrate the first anniversary of his passing. And now I am 40 and still not pregnant, though I had assumed I would be. I had hoped that I would be.
And what do you say after that?
Maybe that's why it has been hard to write. Because I don't want to share this particular ache. Because I know that, once I share it, I am opening myself up to a round of advice (adoption, fertility treatments, druidic smoke dancing-- I dunno, I made that one up) that only sinks the knife of sadness about this particular thing deeper.
Some of you can relate.
We don't want more babies to replace our babies-- no child will ever be Ben. He's alive some other where and I will see him again. I long to hold him and I ache to raise him, but to have another baby is not to replace him... it's to do the thing I feel such a longing to do: bring another person into this world, to raise that person and nurture him or her, to take care of them, to raise them to know God and honor Him. To laugh and cry with them. To see a mash-up of Don and Samantha in a little human package.
But here is my challenge: will I love Him even if that never happens?
And what happens to hope if I resign myself to the possibility of it never happening?
What am I hoping for anyway?
And that's the thing I have been learning in the last eight months of trying to get pregnant (we didn't start right away)-- my hope is in a Who, not a What.
My hope has to be nailed to His heart, His visions, His dreams-- not the thing that I long for. I have to lay that down.
I was looking up the word-- hope-- in the Bible, and most of the time the word was connected to hoping in Him, not for something.
I hope in You, O Lord
Why are you in despair, O my soul?
And why have you become disturbed within me?
Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him
For the help of His presence
(by the way, David repeats this refrain over and over-- Psalm42.11; 43.5-- commanding his soul to hope in God)
My soul, wait in silence for God only, for my hope is from Him.
You are my hope; O Lord GOD, You are my confidence from my youth.
You get the picture.
The psalmist proclaims that God is his hope and salvation. The implication, over and over in the pages of the Word He gave to us, is that hope that is focused on Him is firm and secure. It is founded on solid stuff. It is a hope that has substance. And it is hope in HIM-- not a thing or a reward.
He is the ultimate answer to all of our prayers.
He is what we hope for in the dead of night.
He is our hope.
I don't claim to understand a whole lot of Job, but one of his friends said this about hoping in the things of man:
the hope of the godless will perish,
Whose confidence is fragile,
And whose trust a spider's web.
He trusts in his house, but it does not stand;
He holds fast to it, but it does not endure...
If I focus all of my hope on the thing that my heart longs for, I will grow bitter, because it might not be the thing He has designed for me. And even if it is what He has for me, I might miss the blessing of it because I grow insistent and entitled-- it's my right, you owe me. But if I put my hope in Him, I find myself
Falling in love with Him
Over and over and
Over and over again,
He gets sweeter and sweeter
As the days go by
Oh what a love between my Lord and I,
I keep falling in love with Him
Over and over and
Over and over again...
(if you don't know that old praise chorus, don't look it up-- the tune is so cheesy, but the words are precious)
If I place my hope in Him, I will never be disappointed because He never fails. Baby or no baby, He is perfect in all His ways. I know it. I knew it the day Ben died and I know it now. He has proven it by holding me every single day of this journey.
And I have no idea how He does it.
It's a miracle.
Lord, I put my hope in You again tonight. I take it-- all the hope that is bunched up tight and packed deep in my heart-- and I put it in Your hands. And I confess to You that You alone are holy, You alone are worthy, You alone are God, and worthy of my praise. I consciously take my focus off the desires of my heart and look instead to You and I say that You are the desire of my heart. Oh Jesus, the peace that fills my soul-- how do you do it? I give you my fears and sadness-- here, I hand it to You-- and I receive Your peace. I choose not to let my mind race ahead to all of the things that could possibly disappoint. You are my hope, O God. And I trust You to heal my heart, no matter what the outcome. I have to trust You. Where else could I go? You have ruined me with Your beauty. No one compares to You. You alone have the words of life-- You alone are trustworthy. You alone are eternal. And You are good.