When Good Doesn’t Work the Way You Expect

About a month ago, I bared my soul to my MOPS group.  But because I write more eloquently than I speak, I put down these words first.  I’ve done some editing and sat with this post for awhile.  But now I’m ready to share it.

I have always been a “good” girl.  Rule-follower.  Non-confrontational.  A pleaser that masquerades as a peacekeeper.

I became a Christian young, when I was nine, and though I truly believe I was saved at that moment, if I’m honest with myself, I didn’t think I had much to be saved from.

I did all the “right” things. Saved sex for marriage.  Went to college and got a BA and an MRS.  Had a baby two years in and another eighteen months later.  Bought a house and a minivan.  Joined a church.

Somewhere along the way, I got the notion that as long as I was “good”, as long as I did what was expected, and did nothing that was “wrong”, then I would get the life I deserved.

Funny thing about plans is they never quite work out the way you expect.

Just eighteen months ago if you had asked me if I was happy, if I was content, if I believed in God’s plan for my life, I would have told you yes.

I would have been lying.

You see, we had a plan.  This time it was a plan I had prayed over, we had been patient with, we had prepared for…..it wasn’t like when we bought our house just so I would stop crying about being in a rental or when we got ensnared in a vacation package because we really thought we could use those free airline tickets.  (By the way, we’re a lot smarter now.  Age really can bring wisdom.  And 20/20 hindsight.)

The plan was simple.  I was going to quit teaching, and we would be frugal and simple and live off Joshua’s salary.  I would sub a few days a month, get this writing career cranked up, and have playdates at the park with Amelia and cupcakes in the classroom with the big girls.

It seemed like a really good plan, even when he lost his job in the FDIC takeover.  It still seemed like a really good plan, even when his new job doubled our healthcare costs and tripled our gas budget with a 45 minute commute one-way.

I was so proud of myself for holding onto faith.  But guess what?

Pride really does come before a fall.

I started my staying home gig with a part in the community theatre version Diary of Anne Frank.  Ironically, I played Mrs. Frank, a mother whose world was now out of her control.  So when the fatigue started, I thought it was opening weekend exhaustion.  Then the nausea that hit backstage on Sunday afternoon was explained away as nerves.  Then when I could hardly pry myself out of bed the next day, I figured maybe my iron was low or my thyroid levels had gone wacko again.  So I took myself over to my OB’s office where they were always so good to reassure me I was fine.  It was Madelynne’s 7th birthday, a clear, sunny September day.  I took Amelia with me and remember now how the nurses distracted her when I fell apart in the lab after my midwife told me my iron was fine, my thyroid was normal, and I was pregnant.

That was not in the plan.

So I went into hiding.

When I came out, I was bitter and angry and ashamed.  I was mad.  I was good.  I was doing what I was supposed to do and I couldn’t help but feel like I was being punished in some way for being ready to move to another phase.  I really, truly, didn’t believe I wanted another baby or that I could handle four kids or that I was ever going to be a good enough mom.

Our plan was unraveling.  We were struggling to pay the bills.  A refinance we thought would come through was halted when it was realized that our loan was sold 30 days past the fed’s cutoff date for mortgage assistance.  Kelly Services put my application to sub on hold until November.  When I began to ration the milk I was giving the girls on their cereal, I broke.  Humbled, I found myself in the local health department filling out paperwork for WIC.

This was not the way my plan was supposed to work.

Then, in December, the mice came.  Dozens of them nesting in our storage shed and dying on those sticky traps and chewing through Christmas decorations and the camping pillows.  I really, really lost it then.  When my husband tried to talk me down and remind me that this wasn’t the end of the world or some sort of punishment, I spoke words I am so ashamed to admit.

I don’t believe God is taking care of me.  And my husband gently, but firmly, set me straight.  He reminded me of the bills we had paid when we had nothing.  Of the food that graced our table.  Of the Santa gifts already bought and hidden away.  Of the miracle in my belly.  It was then I realized.

Those mice were nesting holes in my home.  My doubts were nesting holes in my faith.

When I finally sat down to put words to my feelings what came out was a realization about my impatience.

Things didn’t get better overnight.  But they did get better.  Somewhere along the way, God began to show me that he wasn’t punishing me for not being good enough.  He was loving me for being a flawed, despicable, horrible mess.  He was showing me grace.  He was blessing me even when I didn’t deserve it.

Honestly, the day before Gus was born, I had to take the girls over to a friend’s house because I thought I was going to lose my mind.  I was so scared and so guilt-ridden and I was looking to the actions of a six and seven year old to make me feel better.

Well that didn’t work.

Then he was here.  He was little and snuggly and needy and lovely.  He was mine.  Somehow this tiny baby that I didn’t even know I wanted brought me out of my pit.

I could never be good enough to deserve this.

2 thoughts on “When Good Doesn’t Work the Way You Expect

  1. I don't have much to say to this. Except, if I were physically anywhere near you, I'd ask, can I give you a hug? Would that be OK? And then, can I hold your baby? Just so I can see and touch this evidence of God's amazing grace.

    Thank you for being so brave, and for sharing this. ❤


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