Anyone else feel like all plans are in the trash and instead uncertainty looms all around? I can so relate with my guest blogger today, Barbara Shippy from Simquily Magazine. She’s gone through hard seasons of discouragement and came out the other side to share her wisdom with us. I thank her for writing to us in vulnerability, courage, and faith.
Accepting God’s Good plans When Life Doesn’t Go Our Way
By Barbara Shippy
I am an only child with a love and deep appreciation of big families (my mom is one of seven, and my dad is one of six), and my husband is one of four children. So when we were engaged and would dream about what our future family would look like, it didn’t come as a surprise to either of us that we both said we would love to have a big family of our own—like six kids kind of big.
We got married, and three years went by. Then four. All the while, we had moved four different times, and our last move landed us in a tiny one bedroom apartment seven hours away from our families for a job that had my husband on the road for eight months out of the year. Life was not exactly going according to plan. . . . Well, my plans at least.
It wasn’t long before holidays like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, which were ever only about celebrating my wonderful parents, had suddenly become painful reminders of the fact that we were not parents. Infant baptisms and the weekly invitation for children to join pastor up front for children’s message made my eyes pool with tears. Seeing parents in the store raise their voices at and yank on their rowdy children made me indignant. Happy announcements from friends and cousins who were expecting caused the awful green monster of jealousy to rise up like a beast that threatened to consume the joy I truly had for them.
And then there was that question we like to ask in our culture: So when are you two going to have kids? It got to the point where I would have to walk away and let my husband answer—not because I was frustrated at the person asking, but because our go-to answer of “Whenever the good Lord gives us one” was becoming increasingly difficult to say. After four years, my heart was starting doubt what my head knew to be true: that the good Lord truly is good and that His plan for my life, for my marriage, is truly the best plan there is.
I knew the Scripture verses particularly applicable to our situation:
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8–9
But this is what hit me like a ton of bricks:
“You shall have no other gods before me.” Exodus 20:3
Had children become an idol in my life? How could something so biblical, a command even from God to be fruitful and multiply on the earth, be an idol?
The truth of the matter, though, was that children had become an idol in my life. And it was a sobering realization that slowly (very slowly) began to change the way I looked at our situation.
By God’s grace, I began to realize the value of surrender. Of surrendering what I wanted our life to look like to God’s plan for our life. Of surrendering my fears of what the future might not hold in store for us to God’s good and amazing gifts He had bestowed on us already. Of surrendering my fear of the unknown to God’s all-knowing ways, and surrendering my design for the future to God’s greater plan.
The tears didn’t necessarily go away—and neither did all the doubt that God truly knew better than I did. But what we didn’t have became less and less consuming, which made room for what was most important: faith in Jesus Christ and His Word, which has eternal significance. The constant struggle, however, is that in this world, it is so easy to lose sight of the eternal as we relentlessly pursue the temporal.
Surrender is simple in theory, but it’s certainly not easy. It was, and continues to be, a journey that requires God’s mercy and help to let go of control.
For me, surrender happens through honest conversations with God (He can take it!), fellow Christians who will walk the journey with me, pastoral counsel, and most of all a Bible that is read often—because “faith comes through hearing, and hearing through the Word of Christ” (Romans 10:17).
A few years later, God, in His timing, blessed us with a miracle—a beautiful baby who is now an incredibly busy and fearless toddler. Among many things, I’ve learned that the journey I began years ago, of learning to surrender my will to God’s, was just the beginning. Now, as a mother, my fears and doubts have not gone away, they’ve just changed. And they still have the potential of becoming idols. So while my journey to motherhood was full of valleys and peaks, it was one that taught me great lessons about God’s patience, His love, His timing, the goodness of His plans, and the importance of surrendering my will to His.
“Pray then like this: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.’” Matthew 6:9–10
Barbara Shippy is a wife, mother, and the editor of Simquily.com. An online magazine for the simple and quiet life, Simquily aims to encourage readers to approach daily life with a renewed sense of determination and joy. Formerly a book editor at a Christian publishing house, Barbara enjoys the opportunity Simquily offers to remain the world of words while navigating life as a stay-at-home mom.
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Andrea Chatelain’s mission is to meet women in their struggles and love them forward with God’s truth. She’s a Midwest mom of three, faith and family writer, and college English instructor to immigrants and refugees. She believes Jesus transforms lives when His people boldly seek Him. Her writing reflects her love for Jesus and heart for fellow believers.