Sunday, April 3, 2016

Fear, Control, Trust and Lessons "Learned"

“You know, hon, what I think I’ve really learned this summer? During this whole season we just walked through? That I need to just let go, to stop trying to control everything. God’s in charge and He has it all worked out!"

My confident assessment of a lesson well-learned came on a gorgeous September morning as my husband drove us through Starbucks. Having just dropped off our three young daughters at their Mother’s Morning Out program, we were on our way to the first sonogram of an unexpected, but very joyful, pregnancy.

We were more than ready to put the past several months behind us. That summer of 2012 was one for the books. If it’s true that when it rains, it pours – then we had just come through a hurricane.

But loose ends had tied up, situations had resolved and the storm had passed. I happily sipped my decaf mocha and enjoyed the beginnings of fall in Georgia as we drove.

40 minutes later, belly covered in goop and our eyes anxiously watching every movement on the sono tech’s screen . . .Wait, back up - did I just see what I thought I saw??? Nah. . .what are the chances?! Sono tech: “Did you two just see what I saw?!” Stunned silence followed by outrageous laughter, because really – what other response could there be when TWO tiny, beautiful heartbeats appear??!

And approximately 7 minutes after THAT….

”Hon, HOW is this going to work??! What if I have to go on bedrest? Who is going to take care of the girls? ALL of our family is in Texas!! A schedule. I need to make a schedule of who can help and when. Oh my goodness, people are going to be in our house ALL the time and they will see what a horrible homemaker I am. I need to clean. TWO newborns?? Plus the THREE kiddos we have?? I can’t do this….God got the wrong girl because there is no way …. CRUD - we have to get a new car! We can’t fit FIVE kids in my Pilot . . .or your Cherokee . . .Where are they going to sleep? SLEEP – we need TWO cribs . . .two carseats . . .two of everything . . .I just gave away all the baby stuff! ALL. THE. STUFF. Will the girls be okay? Will they love them? Will they feel neglected? How am I going to mommy FIVE young children??? And did you SEE how much protein they want me to eat every day?? How am I going to do THAT?? Don’t they know I’m a VEGETARIAN??!!”

Seems like God wasn’t actually through with that whole “give up control and trust Me” lesson after all.

But here’s the thing. SPOILER ALERT: He IS in charge and He DID have it all worked out, even if I couldn’t see it yet.

As the next 8 months unfolded, we watched as God stepped in and provided everything we needed, every single day.

Friends encouraged us, laughed with us, and listened to all my fears and doubts without judgment.

I spent a good deal of my pregnancy in a state of denial, so when I was 30 weeks and still hadn’t cleaned out the cluttered spare room for the nursery – an amazing friend stepped in, cleaned, moved furniture, hung curtains and created a beautiful space. (While I sat on the floor with a mostly glazed-over look.)

When a schooling change was needed for our oldest, that same friend stepped in and homeschooled my daughter along with her own. Needless to say, that was her most favorite school year EVER.

The teachers at Mother’s Morning Out always had kind and encouraging words for me at drop-off and pick-up. Every. Single. Day.

Two of my dearest friends were like second mothers to my girls. Carpool, hugs, playdates, lunches, dinners – I have no doubt my girls felt loved and secure no matter whose home they were at.

Our home group was our family away from family. And it was through one of our precious friends there that we met the most amazing nanny that quickly became an essential and much loved part of our family. They even pooled resources and paid for her to come an extra day each week so I could have more time to rest.

The nanny. I just cannot even. Let’s just say that I could not have custom-ordered a more perfect fit for our family. She was more than I could have even hoped for and a tremendous blessing to us and our girls. I think that may be a whole other post!

All that baby stuff I had given away? Came back to us ten-fold through such generous, kind hearts! Strollers, swings, diapers, clothes, blankets, gift cards – we lacked for nothing.

So to go back to my fears . . .Someone to take care of the girls? Check. Baby gear and clothes? All taken care of. Car? We were able to trade mine in for a minivan for very little out-of-pocket. Nursery? Done.

God was pouring out manna for us every single day. My response, however, was right in line with the Israelites . . .

“You have got the wrong girl. I. Cannot. Do. This.”

Even after such pouring out of blessing upon blessing which so evidently pointed out that God was more than capable of taking care of us – I still had my eyes upon my own strength. Which was woefully inadequate and I knew it.

My greatest fear was that I would simply crash and burn. That I would not be enough to meet all the needs around me – my girls, the babies, my husband, the house. And when I crashed, I would take everyone down with me. It whispered to me EVERY DAY a long list of “what ifs” and “you can’ts”. And I believed them.

On one account, I was right. I was not enough. In fact, I cannot count how many times someone would (with very sweet intentions) tell me, “Well, God doesn’t give us more than we can handle.”

And I wanted to scream “YES. Actually, YES, He does. Because I CANNOT handle this on my own.”

Thankfully instead of a scream, what normally came out was a self-deprecating laugh and “Actually, I think He does. That way I have no choice but to depend on Him.”

But admitting I had no choice but to depend on Him? That meant trust. Like REAL trust. Not a summer camp fall-into-my-arms trust exercise that at worst might result in a few bruises. But a real “If you don’t show up then this will be a disaster” kind of trust. And that level of trust requires that whole giving up control thing.

Yeah. Back to that again.

Fast forward to a beautiful Wednesday morning in April. We left our 3 girls with my parents who had been able to drive in from Texas to help (and maybe also love on two new sweet grandbabies). I was a nervous wreck – epidurals scare the crud out of me and this would be my first C-section. My fear wheeled right into that operating room with me. Nothing like a sterile, white room with 6 people in scrubs and masks plus no feeling in half my body and no sight past the screen draped across my chest. In case I had any illusions of control, they all flew out the window at this point.

But, then.

Then, courtesy of my husband, one swaddled beauty appeared on my right and her sister soon followed on my left. The joy, relief and awe was inexplicable. If there was ever a case for a Creator, it was confirmed, underlined and highlighted as I took in these two masterpieces, so marvelously knit together.

The recovery room? The joy and laughter spilled out over and under the dividing curtain – so much that other nurses kept peeking in to see what the commotion was all about. This was one of those “Mary” moments – one that I treasured up in my heart.

My husband was able to stay with me night and day, thanks to my parents and our amazing nanny loving our girls so well in our absence. I had read ZERO books on having twins. And since I wasn’t nursing (no judgment, kthx) I just really hadn’t thought through the logistics of feeding two babies ON MY OWN. My hubby was with me - we would each feed one, burp one, change one . . .we had man-to-man coverage and it was working great.

The little voice kept trying to remind me that I would eventually have to figure out how to do all that on my own – Brad would return to work, parents would have to return to Texas and unfortunately the hospital nurses couldn’t come home with us.

But I kind of did that mental equivalent of sticking my fingers in my ears and going “la la la I don’t hear you!” Staying in my pretend world was working pretty well so far.

What happened next was almost a holy moment, an orchestrated whispering from my good, good Father that He called me to this and He would equip me for this – that this was no mistake.

The babies were nice and calm, I was comfortable and resting and it was a good time for my dear husband to grab a quick shower. No problem.

Until one woke up. And then the other. And they were HUNGRY. And I all but panicked.

But it’s just me here!! What do I do??!! Feed one, then the other? But they are both screaming! I don’t want to call a nurse just for this!! PANIC and fear were having a good ol’ time with me, reminding me that I couldn’t do this.

Mom instinct (otherwise known as the Holy Spirit grabbing my face with both hands, looking me in the eyes and yelling, “Get a hold of yourself, woman!”) kicked in. Before I knew it, I had fashioned two little “nests” out of pillows in front of me on my bed – to keep them secure and their heads inclined. With a bottle in each hand, I watched as my two little birdies quieted down and contented baby gulps filled the silence, a realization took over.


(This is where God gets a good laugh at me finally grasping what He’s been trying to tell me for 8 months.)

Please, let me leave no illusion that the days, weeks, months and years that followed were by any means easy. Reality of life with 3 young children and 2 newborns set in. I had my share of breakdowns. From crying until I made myself sick, to a good dose of post-partum depression and going semi-catatonic on the kitchen floor because I could. not. do. it. any. more.

But my good, good Father – He provided something EVERY single day that encouraged me and got me through those times.

An unexpected nap. Some good quality time with the bigger girls. A friend to offer to hold babies so I could shower. Coffee chats full of laughter. A phone call. Even just the overwhelming feeling of joy – in the midst of fatigue – that TWO tiny new lives had us all completely in love.

That first year is still kind of a blur to me, but I know we made it. All my fears? Completely silenced. And now those babies are a week shy of turning THREE. What in the world?!

I’ve always thought that God makes the best visuals to accompany His lessons for us – butterflies are a beautiful picture of a changed life in Him, Spring reminds us that He makes all things new and the ocean serves to compare our smallness to His majesty and vastness.

I like to think that I have two of my very own walking, talking visuals – currently playing dolls in the next room. Reminders of God’s goodness, faithfulness and His incredible patience with my unbelief. That I indeed CAN do all things through Him who gives me strength. That fear has no hold on me when I trust His loving provision.

And control. I can indeed give up control and trust Him. Although I have a feeling this will be a lifelong process for me, I feel like I’ve grown by leaps and bounds.

But I’ve also learned enough not to declare a confident lesson learned and done with.

We all know how that went down last time. ;-)