At 10:30 pm a year ago today I look at my husband while leaning over our bed, breathing deep, and said to him, “We’re not going to make it!!”
I was in labor. I knew this was it! Our girl was coming. And while I knew I was in labor, I could also tell that this wasn’t active labor. Contractions were not regular enough nor strong enough. I knew it would take longer than an hour and a half for this girl to come.
Why did that matter you may ask. Weren’t going to make what?
So our littlest one I carried last year, she was not in the plan, my plan that is. There was no fourth child at 39 on my schedule for my life. It has been quite an adjustment for me to take in the all the ways that this gift of joy (because I do believe that is what our Lily Joy is) has altered my life. She is God’s surprising-and-disruptive-but-oh-so-good gift to me. I believe that to be true.
I spent much of my pregnancy, and to be honest on the hard days I still do spend time, doing the work of claiming the promise of JOY this child is and will be in my life. We even sealed this promise of joy in her name, Liliana Joy. But that does not mean it hasn’t been a hard journey to reorient myself to this new landscape of my life… life with a baby, and a 4th child at that, at now 40 when I thought I was nearing some open space for other parts of myself that have taken a back seat during this intense period of being home with my children. I thought I might be able to walk through an open door into that next thing, only to find instead a closed door and an unexpected path facing me.
As a woman who has chosen to stay home with her kids until they begin school, it has been a good but hard choice in many ways. It has involved a sacrifice of part of who I am. The gifts I believe God has called me to live into have in many ways been put on the back burner during this period of being the primary caregiver of my kids which requires intense care and attention.
And so last year, with 2 kids in elementary school and my son beginning preschool, I felt like some space had opened up in my life for these other parts of myself… that is until that positive pregnancy test sent me spinning back into the world of breastfeeding schedules and diapers and naps and the intense needs a little one brings for the one who cares for them.
And then her due date was calculated: September 7th.
Now my first child came at 40 weeks to the day, my second came at 39 weeks to the day, and my third came at a very surprising 37 weeks to the day. Given my history and the fact that this was my fourth child, I figured I would probably go early with this child too. I didn’t think I would make it past the month of August. So I had my hopes set on an August baby, partly due to the fact that the last few weeks of pregnancy are pretty miserable who doesn’t want the relief of an early delivery, especially in the midst of a miserably hot Southern summer we had last year?!?
But more than this, I had already been calculating the time until this little one would start school… when that moment of space I thought I had almost arrived at last year would come again.
Guess when the age cut off for beginning Kindergarten is here?
So at 10:30pm on August 31st last year when full-on labor hadn’t taken hold and instead of heading to the hospital, I headed to bed to try and sleep until my body kicked into high gear, I knew I wasn’t going to make it. I wasn’t going the make the August 31 deadline for Kindergarten.
The fact that we were turning the calendar to September 1st was probably not significant in your world. It was just another day. But last year, for me, it meant my sweet, unexpected gift from God would be home with me an extra year.
Our sweet girl decided to grace the world at 4:41 am on September 1st. The irony of it does not escape me. 4:41 am. 4 hours and 41 minutes past the deadline.
Here’s the thing friends… as the days to the end of August counted down, I sensed my anxiety level increasing, my longing to go into labor intensifying, and finally I was confronted with the hard truth:
Even in this place of feeling like I didn’t have control over this significant shift in life for me, in this reorientation to another plan I hadn’t made, I was still trying to control things!
I was still trying to force my plans into this unexpected plan that was now a part of my life. I was still trying to arrange things to get a desired outcome. My logic was, well, if I am going to have another baby, at least let her come by the end of August so she can start school when I am 44 and not 45.
I was 39 weeks pregnant at the time and so I have that to explain for some of the crazy in my thought process and anxiety.
But friends, the deeper truth is that I have some serious control issues. The fact that when I was on the edge of active labor and what was on my mind was missing the Kindergarten deadline, revealed to me so much about my issues with control. My need to plan and orchestrate my life. Here in this place where I felt completely out of control, I was still trying to grab hold of the reigns!
It was clear to me: I am a control freak and I needed help!
I like to be in control. I like feeling like I have the power to manage things in my life. But truth be told, don’t we all?! Don’t we all have some control issues in one way or another? Don’t we all live with the illusion that we have some, if not a lot, of control over our lives. Where we live, what job we have, what happens in our day to day. But the truth is, we have a lot less control over our day to day lives than we think we do.
As our hearts go out to the people in Texas who were in the path of Hurricane Harvey, it is just another reminder that we have a lot less control over what happens in life than we think we do.
Our Lily Joy, she broke me, but in the best of ways. She has shattered the illusion that I am in control of my life.
God has used our sweet September 1st Joy baby to school this control freak in a lesson of learning to give up control and give in to the ways of God.
You see at the heart of the issue of giving up control is trust. If I am not running the show, can I trust the one who is? We are pushed in to ask the question, is God really in control? Is God really looking out for my good? Can I trust God to work for my wholeness and well-being when my life doesn’t go according to my plan?!
The answer my friends is yes! Yes, you can trust our God to hold your life secure no matter what happens. Yes, you can trust God to work for your good no matter what unexpected things occur that you didn’t plan. Yes, your God has you and your future fully and completely in his firm and loving hands.
Tomorrow, on September 1st, we will celebrate the birth of our Lily Joy, the one God has used to help me learn to give up control! And, it has been the best gift this control freak could have ever been given. Because you see, I’m finally leaning into the truth that while I may plan things big and small for my life, ultimately it is God’s plans that will stand. I am learning to give up control and give in to the wisdom and goodness of our God, who in the good and the bad, is always holding me secure. I am learning that when you don’t feel the need to be in control of everything you actually live more freely and lightly. And that friends, is a good place to be.
15 Bible Verses for the Control Freak
I imagine I am not the only control freak around who may need such a lesson in giving up control. Soak in these 15 verses that can help us control freaks lean in to the wisdom and goodness of our God who controls all things.
1. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9
2. And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you. Psalm 9:10
3. Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases. Psalm 115:3
4. Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Proverbs 3:5-6
5. Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand. Proverbs 19:21
6. 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
7. Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me? Jeremiah 32:27
8. Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10
9. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
10. For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor? Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. Romans 11:34-37
11. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. Matthew 6:34
12. Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29
13. But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26
14. In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will. Ephesians 1:11
15. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7
Feel free to download this prettier version of these verses!