I wish that I could find a (nonexistent) journal entry from back when I was in college where I said something like: “Ten years from now, I can see myself…” And then I described the vision of my life. The vision I had before marriage, before kids. Wow.
That would be good for a laugh.
When I met Randy, it was (eventually) true love. The love was so incredible that it propelled us right into this life together. How blindly we walked into it. How risky it was to say “yes” to that kind of unabashed, unapologetic, unreliable kind of passion. And yet, here we are. I can honestly say that my vision for marrying this man fell way short of the real life version of what has happened.
However, this marriage looks nearly nothing like my early imaginations of it.
We now have six children.
I don’t remember ever envisioning myself as a mother. And if I did, I certainly didn’t imagine how all-encompassing motherhood is. I may have thought of it as: we will do all these things, we will follow all these dreams, we will accomplish all these goals, and we will also have children.
We certainly never planned on having a large family. About the time Rosie was born, we were thinking it would be nice to have a child. (And we were right.) Childbirth brought out fears in me that struck me to the core. And though I have said countless times, “I can never do this again,” God, in his mercy has given us the grace to walk through pregnancy and childbirth six times in 10 years. This process has been both the greatest struggle and greatest joy of my life.
I never had the vision for six children. My prayer, repeated over and over in my journals, has been this: God, please help us to have the children you want us to have in this life.
So far, I have felt the nudging of the Holy Spirit not long after the birth of each child that it is time for me to be open to the idea of another. God did not give me faith for six children. But he gave me the faith for one more, five times.
I have filled journal after journal with prayers for the future, with lists of things I want to accomplish. I have spilled out all of my visionary plans onto blank page after blank page. So little of what I wanted to do has actually been accomplished. So little of what I thought is the reason I was put on this earth has come to fruition.
But it is okay.
Because I have been doing something else.
The pre-children me could not have anticipated how deeply motherhood would change me. How many hours of my day are non-negotiably set aside for the immediate needs of our children. The younger version of me couldn’t have understood how many of my earlier dreams were rooted in a part of me that would one day cease to exist. I have become a different person. And sometimes the vision cannot be transplanted into the next season of life.
The vision of marrying Randy was enough for me to say yes to forever. But having this family has taught me that we are to hold visions with care, and allow them, as we allow the relationships in our lives, to grow and live and breathe and take shape other than what we have preconceived them to become.
When our souls are anchored to Christ, He is our Vision. Everything else must be allowed room to grow and breathe. Everything else must remain flexible. If we hold too tightly to a vision, even one we are sure that He gave us, we may choke the real life out of it. Maybe we weren’t meant to see the vision fulfilled in this lifetime. Maybe believing the vision was going to come to pass–and only this belief–was the purpose for it because it caused us to make choices that were important to the greater story.
We have a choice. When we have a vision in our lives that has not come to pass and because of circumstances now beyond our control, it appears it never will, we can choose to look back in regret, blaming ourselves or others that our purpose in life was not fulfilled. Or, we can give that vision back to God and pray that He will allow it to live and breathe in us in the way it was meant to. Just because it didn’t happen doesn’t mean that it had no purpose in our lives or that it is not a critical part of our stories. God sees every word of the story from beginning to eternal end. We can only see the chapters that have been written.
Living with children has taught me to hold loosely to plans and visions. Sometimes, life is just day by day. I am constantly praying for insight for how to make life in our family work. Marriage, children, homeschool, work, house, etc. The systems in place that are working now will not work in a few months. We are all growing and changing, we have different needs, different struggles, different perspectives. We have different personalities and learning styles. We have varied interests and levels of understanding. My current plan will serve us for a season, but it won’t be long before it starts to wither before my eyes. In this moment, I will need the creative inspiration from the Holy Spirit. My vision may need to be fed and watered. It may need some pruning. Or it may be beyond saving. The dream may need to be uprooted, and the ground may need to lie fallow for a season so that, in time, the seed of a new vision can be planted there.
I am learning to hold loosely to vision. To let it guide me where it can, but to allow it the flexibility to grow and change or fall away.
My prayer for our family is that we will hold steadfast to the unchanging Christ alone. And in Him, we will find the guidance for every changing dream and season of our lives.
Photo Credit: Wallhanger Photography