When I think of reconciliation, I think about things meeting up and matching the way God intended. It is said that the space between expectations and reality is disappointment. To me, reconciliation holds expectations and reality by their hands and helps them reach each other across the gap of disappointment. This is hard work when what needs to be reconciled is two people’s expectations of each other. It may be even harder when the reconciliation is between our own expectations and the reality of God’s plan for our life. When the work of reconciliation is within our own spirit, we can no longer blame anyone except for ourselves or God.
I know a bit about that latter form of reconciliation between the desires of my heart and God’s plan for my life. While I certainly did not have a trouble-free life, I did not run into serious disappointment until my husband and I decided to start a family. It wasn’t until it became evident that our plan was not going to take the desired path that I realized how strong and specific my expectations were. Months and years went by as we waited for a child.
I was disappointed.
I was discontent.
I was grieving.
And I was not reconciled.
After several years of waiting, we faced a dilemma: should we pursue infertility treatments or adoption? While making that decision, I felt I was finally at peace with the infertility. I was ready to pursue adoption. I felt like my mind’s understanding of God’s love for us and the grace and goodness to be found in adoption had helped convince my heart as well. But the reality of that decision also flooded me with overwhelming emotions of sadness, discouragement and anger. It wasn’t a lack of peace with the decision; I have never doubted that adoption was the right choice. Rather, it was a new level of grieving over the finality of our decision. And I was finally forced to confront something I had ignored for years.
I was angry at God.
The vision I always had for my family was based on my understanding of God’s plan for all families. It made me angry to have to abandon that vision. I knew He had created me to be a mother and placed a strong desire for children in my heart, but I was angry at being asked to wait. I knew I was more ready than many to become a parent. I felt resentment when others were blessed with children while I was not. Our infertility and God’s decision to direct our path towards starting a family differently than my vision did not make sense to me.
The Reconciliation Process
Shortly after starting the adoption process, I agreed to go on a teaching trip to Tanzania. I viewed it as a welcomed distraction that would fill the wait for our child. Looking back I can see that God intentionally called me to Africa because He wanted me to be alone. It was time for Him and me to work out my anger. I was assigned to teach on faith, but as I prepared I knew I wasn’t quite ready yet.
I knew my infertility story needed to play a part, but I didn’t know how to share. I didn’t know that I hadn’t yet discovered the missing link that would bind it all together.
I spent the evenings of the trip studying Hebrews 11, the assigned passage for the faith lesson. I tried to prepare my teaching outline. Every story in that chapter was speaking to my spirit about how God’s plans are not our plans. God taught me that week that faith is a choice we make, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to say yes to God’s plan. My faith in God, in Christ’s redemptive work, and in the Holy Spirit’s power to assist me leads me to a reconciliation between my desires and God’s plan. When we make that choice, it allows Him to bridge the gap of our disappointment so that our expectations can be reconciled with His ultimate plan and purpose for our lives.
God’s Plan Revealed
Because of what God was showing me in Scripture, I changed my teaching outline to center around my journey to become a mama. I stood up to teach my lesson in the heat of the day, in a little church on a hill. I had not slept well and was feeling weak, so we prayed for a cooling rain just before I got up to teach. As I began to tell my story, the women’s attention was magnetic. In their culture, women are defined by their motherhood, so my willingness to stand from a place of weakness as a childless woman and teach about God’s design for me as a mama was powerful.
Shortly into my testimony, the rain we prayed for began to fall. The cooling relief was immediate, but the rain fell harder and harder. As it hit the tin roof it drowned out my words despite the power of the microphone. My interpreter stopped me and decided to say a prayer that the rain would stop so the women could hear my story.
Immediately the rain slowed to a gentle shower, allowing me to finish my teaching in the cool quiet that followed the rainstorm.
I am so thankful for the gift of that experience. It was an exclamation point that emphasized what God taught me about His power in our lives and the role our faith plays in reconciliation with Him.
I came home from that trip a changed woman. That experience did not take away my need to grieve my disappointments, but it reframed my experience. I finally confronted my anger towards God. He met me there and gently taught me about the gift of reconciliation. Through faith, He had already given me what was mine for the choosing. Then he showered a little miracle upon me as a reminder of his loving care for me.
[Image via a’Shioji/Flickr]