Sunday, March 9, 2008

A Child's Faith, A Mother's Heart, and Daring to Hope -- Hope Chronicles 23

Several years ago Julie was driving back to visit her family with her children. The oldest was in the third grade. She pulled out a yellow legal pad and announced that they were going to make a list. This got Julie's attention. After all, it was spring and Christmas was many months away. Julie inquired as to what the list was for. Her daughter announced that it was a list of things they wanted in a husband for their mom. (Sorry, Oprah, this little one was way ahead of you on love lists!)

Her younger daughter started off with things like money and a nice car. With all the wisdom of a third grader, her older daughter said, "No, he first has to be a Christian." And then, after getting the younger girl more focused, they moved on from there.

Recently, Julie's girls (now both teenagers and the older one a year away from college) were cleaning out their memory boxes. Her oldest found the list that Julie had stowed there. "Mom," she said, "he has all these things." You see, Julie remarried a few years ago after dating her husband for five years! He was patient enough to wait around for her to be ready.

I got teary as Julie related the story. She rushed to say, "I didn't tell you that to make you cry!" I know she didn't but I didn't know if I dared to hope. Sometimes it feels easier not to hope than to have a hope and not see it fulfilled.

What are the things you hope for but can't see yet?

This week a friend looped me in on some communication she was having with another single woman. This is a portion of the email she sent:

"I want to encourage you that you can still be a mother in a non-traditional way. My friend, Amy, is 39 years old and never married. She, too, sometimes gets down about her desire to marry and have children. But I want you to know that she has so connected in my kids lives that she often mothers them. She takes them for fun outings. She watches them so my husband and I can have time. She has had some deep conversations with them when they've asked deep questions."

I was touched by my friend's words. "She has so connected in my kids lives that she often mothers them." In my separate conversation with Julie, I asked, "So why did God give me a mother's heart and empty arms?" Julie suggested that maybe it is just a "not yet" and that I needed to keep myself open. To think that it is a lost cause closes off my heart to possibilities. She wanted me to make a list.

I know some of you reading are not single. But I hope you can still relate. What is it that you so hope for that it scares you because what would happen if that dream didn't come true?

It is hard to hope and not see how that hope might be fulfilled. Sometimes people try to make you feel better and say, "God has a better plan for you." They mean well, but sometimes it can make it feel harder. I do know that God doesn't take that longing, that hope (whatever it is in your life) lightly. Scripture recognizes the weight of it. In Proverbs 13:12 (NIV) it says, "Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life."

It's okay to have that longing -- whatever it might be for you. It's okay to sometimes feel down about it. But be careful. Don't make it into an idol. (An idol is anything that takes center stage instead of God.)

So, some of that is okay. BUT, God also calls us to turn our eyes to Him. I'll only quote part of Psalm 42 here (8-11), but I encourage you to look at the whole thing:

By day the LORD directs his love,

at night his song is with me—

a prayer to the God of my life.

I say to God my Rock,

"Why have you forgotten me?

Why must I go about mourning,

oppressed by the enemy?"

My bones suffer mortal agony

as my foes taunt me,

saying to me all day long,

"Where is your God?"

Why are you downcast, O my soul?

Why so disturbed within me?

Put your hope in God,

for I will yet praise him,

my Savior and my God.

Even when my dreams feel far away, I am called to put my hope in God -- to praise my God and Rock. So, I thought about all the kids I've "mothered" over the years: Elizabeth, Hannah, Jonathan, David, Billy, Theresa, . . . and I could come up with quite a list if I really looked back and took stock. In that perspective, my arms have been anything but empty!

Julie also reminded me of Sarah in the Bible who went to great lengths to have a child and really made things worse than if she had just waited on God. I'm like her in wanting to just make whatever happen. And Julie said, "Don't be like Sarah. Don't laugh at God." (Genesis 18:12-16).

So, I'm daring to hope. And though it feels risky, I started that list. Meanwhile, I will not waste the mother instincts God has given me.

What will you dare to hope for? What will you do while you are waiting and trusting and praising God for whatever may come?

5 comments: said...

Amy that was a great post. Thanks for sharing that special part of your heart. I can identify with your need for hope. I'll be praying for God to grant you the desires of your heart.


Laura said...

You have such a sweet heart and I pray God blesses you above and beyond what you could ever ask or imagine. I think we all have seasons where hope is all that is getting us to the next day. And then there are seasons when the sun shines a lot more. Blessings sweet internet friend!

Christy said...

Amy, Thanks for sharing your heart on such a personal level. I know it will minister to many.

I understand the fear of letting go of Hope because the dream just might shatter and then what. I was completely scared to let go of the hope that I would be a wife and a mother. I busied myself in doing others things to fill that void in my life. But then, God made me deal with stuff and He lead me into a time of sweet sweet desert wandering. And after a time, He began sending new blessings my way. You see, my hope didn't change. But how I was helping God fulfill that hope changed. God didn't need me to help. He's quite capable. I knew that. But I didn't live that. When I started living what I beleived, I started seeing Him at work in ways I had never seen before.

God changed my list - my husband list. God showed me His list and then He showed me Jason - my husband.

My story about my hope of having children is quite lengthy. We throught there was no hope. But now we have two beautiful girls. I'll share it later if you like.

My story won't be your story. God may not fulfill your hope as He did mine. But I know this - God knows your desires and He has a plan. I think the part we forget is getting in line with Him - getting our focus of our our unfulfilled hopes and just resting in him being enough. I know it is easier said than done.

Do you know what I miss though? Now that I'm married and busy with a toddler and an infant. I miss my time as single person. I miss being able to be unscheduled. I miss spending time with students in the youth ministry. I miss sleeping in on Saturdays. I love my life. I didn't think there was anything to love about being single. But it was a season. It seemed like a LONG ETERNAL season. I don't know how long your season will last. Don't miss the beauty of the season while you are in it.

By the way, my sister is in her mid-40s and is getting married this summer for the first time. She thought she would never be a wife or a mom. Now she's getting both - he comes with a prepackaged family of 3 boys! You just never know. But God does.

I also believe that having others pray with you about your hope is key. Only when you share your heart can others shake the gates of heaven on your behalf. There's nothing like having some cheer for you.

Sorry for the long post. You stirred up alot for me today.

swile67 said...

Hi Amy! Thanks for stopping by my blog! To answer your question about snow...we actually get similar amounts to you guys in Illinois....I live near Toronto and this winter has been a rare one in regards to the amount of snow we received!! And it is usually not this cold around here!!:) Oh well..spring is in the air...I feel it!!:) It was great to visit your site as you worked for IV...I was involved with IV in university in Toronto...LOVED it! I even went to Urbana '86 and LOVED it -life changing!
Have a great week and God BLess!
PS Did I read somewhere that you have compiled a list of all the recipes from Lysa's post? If the case, are you sending it out and if so, may I please have a copy...thanks soo much!! From your Canadian neighbour!!:)

Nicki said...

This was so great! You are an incredible writer. Thank you for sharing you very sweet heart! I've seen you all over blog land and just wanted to say hello! I'm glad I did! Your blog is great!!