I suck at waiting. Stoplights, checkout lines, doctor’s offices – all annoy me to no end. Whether it’s a minor inconvenience or a major impediment, any circumstance that places me in a state of suspense throws my contrived sense of order and stability into a maelstrom of anxiety-addled emotions. Put me on call hold, I’ll immediately start nervous toe-tapping or earring-tugging until I can find some way to multitask and make efficient use of the time. If you’re telling a joke and it takes longer than a minute to get to the punch line, save your breath; I may give a courtesy laugh, but really, I checked out 30 seconds ago.
This tendency of mine can partly be attributed to the influence of our cultural-driven conviction that we’re entitled to immediate gratification, which sounds like and is in fact a cop-out. More so than this, I think the reason I detest having to wait for just about anything is because it defies my plans. I’ve got a schedule that in my ever-discerning mind I approved to be good and wise and darn-near infallible. Thus, any disruption to this schedule wreaks havoc in the Universe According to Jennifer.
Once after venting to Colin about something or other, he remarked on how my complaints about my busted plans reminded him of the hospital scene in The Dark Knight, wherein Heath Ledger’s Joker persuades Harvey Dent (Two-Face) over to the dark side: “The mob has plans. The cops have plans. Gordon’s got plans. They’re schemers, schemers trying to control their little worlds. I’m not a schemer. I try to show the schemers how pathetic their attempts to control things really are.”
My pathetic attempt to control our family called for baby-making to begin four years ago. Once we decided to start trying, I wanted to get pregnant right away. Heck, I didn’t even want to wait for nine months of gestation; I was ready to have a baby from the word(s) go (procreate). In the big picture, I had been waiting all my life for the opportunity to be a mom, ever since I was little and bossed my siblings around while dressing my dolls and pretending to nurse my stuffed animals, which my siblings now tease me about as payback for the bossiness. Waiting to have kids until a few years after getting married was a sensible part of my master plan; having to wait a few years after deciding to actively pursue parenthood was not.
As Colin and I started trying to conceive, confusion about why things weren’t working right led to disappointment; disappointment over unsuccessful fertility treatments led to sorrow; sorrow over failed IVF and its implications for never getting pregnant led to despair. The waiting weighed down on me, stifling my hope to become a mom. Friends tried to offer encouragement through truthful yet irritating statements like “God has a plan” and “God causes all things to work together for your good” á la Romans 8:28. Thanks, but seriously people, I wasn’t born again yesterday. I knew God had a plan; I just preferred my own and could not understand why His caused me so much heartache.
And then, about a year ago, at one of the darkest points in my life, the Lord lifted a corner of the veil and revealed at least one purpose for the grief I had experienced. We got an e-mail from the adoption agency about a baby boy whose biological mother wanted to make an adoption plan, submitted our profile for consideration, and a few days later, exactly a year ago today, brought our son home. In all my visions of how I would have a child, I had never imagined it would happen that way.
After the initial shock wore off and the haze of newborn caregiving dissipated, I reflected on the road that led me to Calvin and realized that God had answered my impertinent, oft-repeated question over the past three years: “Why aren’t You giving me a baby?” As I looked into Calvin’s beautiful brown eyes and snuggled with him wrapped in the crook of my arm, I knew the answer was because He wanted me to have this baby. An adoptive mother from my church described a similar revelation she experienced the day she brought her son home: “All the years of infertility finally made sense.” The Lord turned my sorrow into joy by giving me the sweetest, most adorable little boy in the world. (Colin and I feel like we’re allowed to brag a bit about his cuteness because it’s not our genes that made him so stinkin’ cute.)
Of course, it’s not like my life suddenly became perfect after adopting Calvin, or that the sadness of infertility was erased, or, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, that my desire to get pregnant went away. Rather, all of the physical and emotional pain of fruitless medical procedures, feelings of failure and isolation and discouragement, and grief over the loss of a dream were worth it for this: to be Calvin’s mommy.
There are many, many things that happen in this life that we won’t understand this side of heaven. I’m so very glad that despite my lack of faith, God chose to show me a purpose for my suffering and give me an incredible gift as part of His perfect plan.