So this is happening! I'm twenty weeks as of yesterday, and we are so very excited about this little munchkin whose best photos are, well, black and white blurry dots on a 3x4 bit of paper. Technically, we have some much more distinguishable photos after our twenty week ultrasound appointment this past week...which, by the way, was the COOLEST THING. God bless technology. I might have teared up at the ultrasound, and for those of you who know a bit of my backstory, you understand what a gift that was. I'm hesitant to write this one out for the world to read because I think I might be part of a minority here, and we all know that whatever the case, being in the minority usually feels vulnerable. I'm going to try to keep this short, because Lord knows the minute details of story call my name and I follow their alluring little voices down rabbit trails on an entirely too-routine basis. I wonder if there's therapy for the overly-detailed? I could probably use it. Anyway, here's the general gist of my story without all of those fun little details you really don't need: BEING A MOM HAS NEVER BEEN MY DREAM.
It's never held its own spot on one of my many lists of goals, dreams, and curiosities. Pete and I have had this conversation many a time, and it's honestly less that we haven't wanted kids, and more that we've been reluctant to relinquish our independence. We've been married for going on six years, and the fact is the last half of a decade has been fantastic. We love our life.
The truth is that I am simultaneously naive and hyper-aware of the challenges of motherhood. For most of my life, really all of it, my internal response to the idea of motherhood for my own life has been, "Thanks, but I think I'm good."
I actually think it's perfectly fine for people to opt not to have children. I certainly understand the choice, because bottom line, like it or not, is that the not-sure-I-really-want-kids camp is the one from which I come. I could go into the whys, but that's a conversation better suited to a summer night of honesty around a campfire with friends who are safe for the heart. So what changed, right? If we think it's fine not to have kids, and it doesn't sound like we really want kids, why are we having one?
*Massive bunny trail ahead. This might actually be like Main Street in Rabbitville. I promise I have a point.*
I hate churchy and religious-sounding stuff (blech), but there's this story about this guy name Jacob in the Bible. It's in Genesis. This guy Jacob is in a tough spot. He tricked his brother out of something super important when they were young. His brother got mad and was planning to kill him (overreact much?!), so Jacob ran away, and literally started a whole new life with relatives in another land. This is years later. Jacob is now married, well off (camels and donkeys were apparently a big thing), and has a passel of kids. Then God tells Jacob he's supposed to go home. There's a lot of drama in the leaving, but Jacob and his village (for real, if you read it, it sounds like he was moving a village so we're going to call it that) are approaching his presumably still-angry brother's territory. Jacob is stressed. He's sent gifts ahead to let his brother know he's coming, hoping presents will help smooth the waters (smart move, Jake). It doesn't look favorable when his brother's response is to gather four hundred men to come meet them. Sounds a wee bit like an army. Jacob prays, and reminds God that this was His bad idea to return to the motherland. Actually, Jacob was substantially more mature with his wording, and I really loved his prayer. He thanks God for what He's done, he is humble, he asks God to please save them, and he reminds God of what He promised. That's my favorite part. He reminds God of what He promised. It does so much for our souls when we repeat the promises God has spoken over our lives back to Him. It's like going to the chiropractor for our souls. Worry and fear will throw you out of whack every time. Reminding God of things He said is free soul therapy. It's not a quick fix. Therapy never is. It's what we do for our long-term health. (That was a bunny trail from the original we took, and it was free. You're welcome. Back to Jacob.) So Jacob prayed, and later that night he sends everyone across the river and he stays on the other side. This "guy" shows up, and they wrestle. I really wonder how that went down. Did the "guy" just show up and be like "Hey man, you wanna wrestle?" Or was it like a crouching-tiger, hidden-dragon sort of thing where he just hits Jacob out of nowhere? (Never actually saw the movie so no idea if this reference is appropriate or not.) I will ask Jacob about this over coffee in heaven someday, assuming he’s not too busy herding his camels. Anyway, they wrestle all freaking night. No joke. Who has the energy for that? Turns out the "guy" was God. Zero idea how Jacob managed to stick with God in an all-night wrestling match, but he did. So dawn comes, and it says that "when the man saw he could not defeat Jacob, he struck Jacob's hip and put it out of joint" (a.k.a. when God cheats at wrestling). Jacob hangs onto Him even after the hip incident, and God tells him to let go. Jacob bargains and says "I will let you go if you will bless me." This story just keeps getting weirder. Who asks someone they just fought with to bless them? God does bless him though. All of that was for this itty-bitty takeaway:
WE ARE MEANT TO WRESTLE WITH GOD.
WRESTLING WITH GOD WILL CHANGE YOU IN THE BEST WAYS.
It will be ugly and you will get your butt kicked, and if you're any good, He'll throw your hip out so He wins. The humility is the gift that comes in the process of wrestling it out. God owes us nothing. He didn't have to show up to fight with Jacob. He didn't have to bless Jacob. He doesn't have to bless us, but He wants to.
If you are wrestling with God on something, don't stop. The process will humble you, and you will find yourself changed and called by a new name when you are through it. You will be different on the other side, and that is a good thing. I think Jacob's late night wrestling match was the catalyst for him to become who God meant for him to be all along.
I think our personal wrestle with God is the catalyst for us to become who God means for us to be too. Back to our story.
So my wrestle for about four+ years now has been kids. I know a lot of you won't get this, because having kids IS a dream of yours, and I genuinely believe that it is a beautiful dream, but for me having kids has felt like a death sentence to MY dreams. I think more than anything, that has been the rub. It is less about not actually wanting kids, and more about fearing what they will do to my admittedly wonderful world. There is the ugly, selfish truth. Yikes.
The wrestle was that I sensed Him telling me that this was something He DID have for me. It would be one thing if I hadn't heard Him speaking to me about having kids, but that wasn't the case. Over the past few years He's made it abundantly clear that I need to release my death grip on control. It's been such a fun process. I'm kidding. Letting go is dreadfully painful, and I could write a whole blog post on just that. He was actually super nice about it though - like He knew my heart needed to be warmed up (or de-iced) to the idea. And it really has, which is pure craziness and straight-up miracle. The thing about wrestling with God, is that even when you lose you win. The point is engaging with Him so that He can change the way you think about things that you really don't want to think differently about. Getting your mind changed is as dreadfully unpleasant as it sounds - like wrestling through the night, but it really is worth it. I eventually and finally got to a more soft-hearted place. Pete and I softened to the idea of having kids simultaneously, which has been such a gift. It's never been the kind of thing where one of us was ready and the other one wasn't, and I'm beyond grateful for that.
This space of having let go of needing control is so much happier. It's not magic though. When you choose a path because you're being obedient to what you feel like God is telling you to do, it doesn't mean you aren't still you. When Pete and I found out we were having a baby, we were excited, but honestly, I'm not really sure if it hit either of us until our twenty week ultrasound a few days ago. Pete is much more grounded, but I am used to having big feelings about everything, and when twenty weeks of pregnancy go by and your internal emotional response is showing virtually no activity, you honestly feel a little weird, especially when the standard response to pregnancy from most of the universe is, understandably and rightly, high levels of excitement. My best friend told me that the fact that we never really freaked out was a definite sign of grace, so that was something.
Then we had our twenty week ultrasound, and it was so dang cool you guys. For the first time since I've been pregnant, I actually felt connected to this little human, and you have NO idea what a gift that is.
WE'RE HAVING A BOY!
And heck yes we found out. We promptly went shopping after the appointment with the intention of buying one outfit. We bought six. And the cutest newborn shoes that no child of that age actually needs or will likely even agree to wear. Oops. Hashtag #classicnewparentmove But it was fun, and I feel really grateful, because it feels like we've turned another corner in this mind-changing process. Shout out to my sweet friend Janelle who gifted us with the cutest pair of little Hunter rain boots in the smallest size she could find. Our kid is mud-puddle ready! ;) I doubt I will ever be the hardcore awesome mom type who has her act together.
I don't think it's me, and I'm starting to realize that maybe that's okay. God was never trying to push me into some sort of mold that doesn't fit me. Trust is probably the name of the game, here. Perhaps motherhood need not be what I've made it out to be either - as my friend Bethany reminded me when she shared this post on her blog. Maybe God actually does know what He's doing. Who knew?!
To wrap up this way-too-long blog post, if you're trying to trust God with something - if you disagree with Him about something, just know that I feel your pain. Wrestle it out with Him. It's worth the fight, even when you lose, probably especially then. He has this way of bringing us joy in the most unexpected places. Fight it out and don’t let Him go until He blesses you with that new name and the grace to see things in a new way. Huge thank you to my sweet friend Ashley of Ashley D Photography for the photos in this post! It had been far too long since Pete and I had stepped in front of a camera, so having a little one was motivation to finally make it happen, and Ashley gave us such a fun experience!
Hey there! I'm Deborah Grace, and this little space you've stumbled into is a peek into my world, and into the world of those who've allowed me into their stories . I'm a photographer, an artist, a storyteller, and a dreamer. I adore the way photography has afforded me the opportunity to glimpse into people's stories. People are beautiful, imperfect, messy and wonderful. I think most times we just need to know that we're doing okay at this life thing. That's why I take photos. I think people often miss the beauty of their own stories because they're in the middle of them. I think my lens is basically just a gift God put in my hands to help others see how wonderful they really are, and that their stories matter. I always feel like the lucky one because I am. Getting to hear your messy, imperfect, hilarious, one-of-a-kind adventure-of-a-story never fails to convince me that in spite of everything, God is making something really beautiful out of all of us. And that inspires my socks off every time. So yes. I'm the lucky one who gets an in to the beautiful stories that people are. I love new friends so drop me a line if you'd like to connect. -xoxo
P.S. To keep up with my everyday you can find me on Instagram.