The darkest pain lays a backdrop for God’s blessings to shine most brightly. Maybe that's because when darkness closes in, our eyes strain to see anything that resembles light. I’ve seen this working itself out in my own life recently.
My two biological children are just over 7 years apart. According to the calendar I had set in my head, the age gap should have been more like 18 months. It seems like neatly aligned bookends now, but the middle ground was anything but tidy. My heart was a mess many-a-days. The pain of infertility and miscarriage (which I wrote about here, here, here and here) was suffocating.
When you're suffering people will tell you "God's going to work this all together for your good," and "He makes all things beautiful in His time." I've even said those words myself. But when you're sitting in ashes, you can't see beauty.
However, I've had time to take a shower since then and, though I may still have a few ashes clinging to me, I'm beginning to see some beauty popping up. Two gifts in particular.
Our infertility was the motivating force that urged us to begin our adoption when we did. The timing otherwise didn't make a lot of sense. We were less than one year into starting South Bay Church and had, perhaps, one or two minor lose ends hanging around (read: our lives were crazy). If we had been able to conceive naturally, I'm almost positive that we would have waited several more years before pursuing adoption. And in the process, we would have missed our Sammy...a possibility that seems more than I can bear.
The sweetness of his smiles, the sound of his belly laugh, the shy way he snuggles close, the dance moves he'll perform (until I grab my camera), his deep love for sausage and tomatoes... We could have missed it. But, by the grace of God we didn't. Sammy is our gift.
Every single part of mothering Karis is a gift to me. I don't think I would have felt so strongly about that if the journey to her wasn't so winding. I remember being mesmerized and enthralled with Caedmon when he was born, but I also remember getting frustrated over sleep issues and feeling desperate for a little time to myself.
With Karis, it's different. We've got our share of sleep issues (probably even more than we did with Caedmon) and I have even less time to myself these days now that I am the mother to 3 children. But somehow, every temptation to sigh is linked to my constant awareness of what a gift she is. (Please don't read this as a confession that I love Karis more than my other kids...it is more a confession that I had no idea how to fully appreciate each moment with them.)
I delight in breastfeeding that baby (even if it means that I don't get to go to Catalyst this year and my "getaway" with Andy in May will include a diaper bag). It is no burden to me when I have to excuse myself from a meeting or a dinner early because she needs my attention. Her smile is pure sunshine to me and I would pay a lot of money if someone could figure out how to bottle the smell of her head.
We receive gifts with deeper gratitude when we know the pain of going without it.
What gifts do you need to thank God for today?