But what got me thinking about this subject had more to do with the thoughts and attitudes people have about their plan, regardless of what that plan happens to be. I've been involved in a lot of discussions on this subject, and there's a trend that seems to be predominant; something that isn't said outright but is everywhere all the same. And that thing, that underlying element, is control.
Is there anything wrong with having a game plan? I really don't think so. Having an idea about what you and your spouse want for your family seems practical, and maybe even responsible. Being on the same page with your husband or wife about how many kids you want and when you want them is just plain healthy for your marriage. So, what in the world am I talking about? What's the big hairy deal?
I'm not exactly sure. It's one of those subjects that I sense better than I articulate. But since this is a blog and you won't be sensing what I sense anytime soon, I'm going to give it a try. Basically, I feel like sometimes we tend to get a little to wrapped up with our "plan." I know I'm big time guilty of this, and having Poppy just helped open my eyes a little in this regard. It stands out to me more than it used to when I hear something like, "We're spacing our kids 18 months apart so that we can have all three in high school at once." Or, "I am never having my kids closer than 3 years because I don't want to deal with diapers for more than one child at a time." Or, "We are waiting until we have experienced everything we want to before we decide to start a family." Those aren't real quotes, but I've heard versions of all of those statements in the past few months. And is there anything really wrong with those statements? On a surface level, I don't think so. There is something innate in us that wants to make a plan and stick to it with as few detours as possible, and that's not necessarily a bad thing!
So what is it that I thought was worth writing about? I guess it's all about attitude. I get the feeling that for a lot of us, giving God the reins in this particular area is out of the question. This is not a subject that is open for discussion or input from anyone, including God. In fact, I feel like a lot of us would get the wind knocked out of us if God stepped in an altered that plan we had so carefully mapped out with something like infertility or an unanticipated pregnancy. But ironically, I've noticed this is exactly the kind of thing God tends to do. I think we all believe children are gifts from God, so why is it we tend to get all in a wad when we don't get the gift we want when we want it? And I'm not trying to make light of the pain that comes with not being able to have children, or the overwhelming nature of having more than you think you can handle. But still, there is that reality that in most of us there is something, buried a little under the surface, that wants God's gifts, but only in our timing. I know. I've been there.
None of my kids really came in a way I expected, but who in the world am I to say that my way would have been better? My girls are my gifts, given in God's timing, with His fingerprints all over their stories. And the same is true for each precious child out there.
I guess this is an area like so many others where a balance must be struck. A place needs to be found where you can have a general idea of where you're going while at the same time being open and willing for God to step in and steer your boat in a different direction if He chooses. I think that's all it's about. Not only being willing to hand the control over, but recognizing that the control wasn't really yours in the first place.
Child spacing certainly doesn't have a monopoly on this concept, but it's something almost all of us face at some time so it's kind of universally experienced. We have different ideas about what we want and different reasons for wanting it, but as long as we get that it's not really in our power to make our plan unfold like we want it, as long as we realize that really the control is all God's, I think we'll be in good shape. That doesn't mean the outcome is going to be easy to swallow when a detour comes across our path, but I do think that letting go of the control makes it that much easier to accept what God brings, the good and the bad, and let Him work it all out for good for His glory.