Last night brought a cold snap right in the middle of spring, so though there are new buds on the trees outside my window and a thick coating of pollen on the ground, I’m wearing jeans and a sweatshirt. For a little while at least. And I’m gazing anxiously out at the little tomato and pepper seedlings that went in the ground just last weekend, hoping they weather the cold. I know it’s early still. But we were impatient to get our garden planted again.
It’s no secret I’ve struggled these last months waiting for our baby. We started the adoption process one year ago, so in a way it feels like a whole year of waiting (plus many more years if we count the time since we started wanting to adopt).
I’m being so careful to eat healthy food and reduce caffeine and to exercise (okay, the exercise is still a little patchy), and yet this week I sat in my doctor’s office this week with my head down, accepting another prescription for anxiety medication to help with my stress level. Because as much as I want to hope an end is just around the corner, we all know that The Waiting could continue for months, and I need help. My body has never carried stress well.
It’s better in some ways since I started Streams in the Desert. I highly recommend this little, old-fashioned devotional book, which brings a daily reminder of God’s purpose in trials. I’m thankful for the prayers of many and wise words from those who have walked hard roads themselves, roads on which God appeared absent.
I’ve taken my friend Tara’s advice and made a “reminder book,” just a little notebook that I copy my favorite quotes from Streams in the Desert, snatches of songs or Psalms that speak to me. She said, “Julie, keep that book with you at all times – open on the table while you’re homeschooling, in your purse when you go out. And when God feels silent or when the Enemy tells you lies, read it and remember the truth.”
Because that’s where the rub is. God’s silence.
Every day brings new, wonderful news of babies born or adopted, and I rejoice with those who rejoice but at the end of it I turn to God and say, Have you forgotten me? Why are you blessing them, not me too? Why are you so silent!?
I’ve begun to notice a pattern in my heart. I realize that there are swaths of time that I long for our baby but also feel grateful for my life, with the busyness and people and blessings of right here and now. But then my gaze turns onto someone else, on what God is doing for them. And the despair comes close after. I feel cast aside and forgotten and sometimes jealous.
Today it hit me that this is bad fruit in my heart. If I gauge God’s care of me by what He’s doing for other people, I will be filled with doubt and despair — or conversely with pride. Comparison is always poisonous. It doesn’t just hurt other people; it eats away at my own heart and makes a prison for it.
But God is offering me something else right now. He’s offering for me to leave the prison and embrace the freedom of living in my own story, the one He’s writing for me.
I needn’t feel threatened by the gifts He’s giving other people. They have no bearing on what He’s doing for the Gentino family. That’s one of the mysteries about God: He created us all so unique and complex and the ways we can glorify Him are as varied as humanity.
Maybe one of the ways I can most glorify Him right now is being content with my own story, not asking Him for someone else’s.
This morning I opened my devotional and read, “He will do ‘wonders never before done’ if you will learn the mystery of His silence and praise Him every time He withdraws His gifts from you. Through this you will better know and love the Giver.”
So that’s what I’m doing today. Every time a lie sneaks its way in, making me doubt God’s goodness, I’m praying, “Just let me live in my story today. Help me learn the mystery of your silence. Show me how to thank you and honor you in it.”
And there’s a spark of freedom there, I feel it already. When I think of my friends’ blessings I feel so happy. They are living in their stories and when I stop comparing I can stand back and see how big God is.
He isn’t just good and loving when He gives me what I want, in the way I want it. He’s good right now, in the mystery. Today I’m at peace with that.