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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Learning to Submit

At the beginning of this year we were chosen by a birthmother to adopt her baby, who would be born in June. The situation involved a birthfather who was less than thrilled about adoption, and more particularly the choice of the birthmother in selecting us as the couple. As a result, the first few months of this year were filled with ups and downs. We weren't sure whether to embrace the anticipated joy of welcoming a little boy to our family or whether we should keep ourselves aloof, to protect our hearts.

Near the end of February, we received word that the adoption probably wasn't going to happen and that it was in everyone's best interest to limit our contact with the birthmother. We had already grown to love this incredible girl, who was trying so hard to make the right choices for herself and her unborn baby. And, we had already grown to love this little boy who would soon be coming to earth, and genuinely hoped for the best for both him and his mother.

As we faced the reality that the adoption probably wouldn't happen, I crumbled. I spent a couple of days feeling completely devastated and broken. Fortunately the Lord blessed me with some obvious evidences during that time that He loved me and was aware of me. Feeling that love from Him in the midst of my disappointment, humbled me to the point of complete acceptance of God's will, whatever it was. 

I remember one day very clearly... in a moment of prayer I admitted to God that I didn't know what the outcome of this adoption would be. I didn't have the insight or wisdom to see how things were supposed to work out. As difficult as it was to do, I handed over my will to God in that moment, letting Him know that I trusted in Him and in His love for me so much that whatever the outcome would be, I wanted it to be done according to His will. That experience was incredibly liberating. 

I remember thinking at the time, "wow, this is so much easier to handle knowing that all I have to do is accept however God intends for this to work out." Of course, the foundation of that feeling had to be the strongest assurance that God truly loved me and had my best intentions in mind. All of a sudden I didn't have the burden of trying to convince God to make "my will" be done. I finally handed it all over to Him... it was now in His hands.

Well, within a month of having that experience, Marc and I experienced the biggest shock of our married life - we were pregnant! And, then two weeks later, the second biggest shock of our married life - we were expecting twins! At the time I felt like my submission to God's will was all He was waiting for... the result of that submission was this most incredible blessing. And, I remember thinking, "this is so easy to accept God's will when something really wonderful like this happens... the real test would be to accept His will in the midst of disappointment."

Since our first pregnancy, five years ago, ended at 7 weeks, we felt very cautious in those early months. There were a number of times I expressed the feeling that "no matter how this all turns out, I will always consider this pregnancy the most incredible miracle." And I did. And I still do. I think approaching the pregnancy with caution made me even more grateful for each moment, each new experience, not knowing if/when it might end.

Morning sickness was awful... but, it was such a joy to experience it, knowing that my body was working to make two beautiful babies. After throwing up, with tears streaming down my face, I would pat my little belly and tell my babies how much I loved them. Watching them in our ultrasounds, and finally feeling them move around inside me... these were all miracles and blessings that brought us such incredible joy that would often leave us in tears. After five years of "unexplained infertility" these were all things that we had wondered if we'd ever experience. 

The day of our 10 week ultrasound, I recorded in my journal how nervous I was before the appointment. I had gone in our nursery and kneeled down to pray. My first inclination was to pray for a healthy, full-term pregnancy, without any complications.... that was my desire, afterall. That was exactly what I wanted, so I started to express those very specific desires to God. I paused, though. I found myself offering a completely different prayer than the one I intended to offer. Instead, I prayed that everything would work according to God's will... and with tears flowing, I pled with God to "please bless me with the courage to accept thy will."

Well, that appointment went wonderfully... as did many of the subsequent appointments. As the pregnancy progressed and our fears were settled, we started to allow ourselves to feel unleashed excitement at the anticipated arrival of our two precious little girls.

Then, came July 16th. We had been rushed down to UCSF when my water unexpectedly broke. After laying in that hospital bed for almost 12 hours, with nothing happening, except that I was losing more and more fluid as the clock ticked on, I became very frustrated that no one was doing anything to try and save my babies. I felt so helpless. I was fighting to keep them and I felt so utterly alone in that fight.

As I reached that point of total desperation, I offered a silent prayer. Again, I found myself admitting that I didn't have the wisdom or insight to see what the outcome of this situation was to be. I expressed my feelings that I was fighting an uphill battle, and that if God was behind me in that battle that I was willing to fight, to do whatever I had to help my girls live. But, I also was able to see that my fighting to keep them here may have become a fight contrary to His will for them and for me. And, then came another moment of submission... "please, Father, help me to have the courage to accept thy will."

Within an hour of offering that prayer, my physical condition worsened to the point that made it clear that infection from the surgery a week before, was the cause of preterm labor... and ultimately the doctors were concerned for my life. Some may consider it coincidence. I felt then, and still feel now, that those turn of events were confirmation that God had a different outcome in mind for our little girls than what we had expected. Their purpose and mission would be fulfilled in simply receiving a body... and we were entrusted with the bitter-sweet experience of being the means whereby they could fulfill that purpose.

I share all of this more for myself than for anyone else. You see, I have been struggling to remember that the events of the last few weeks and months have all gone according to God's will... and that, on more than one occasion, He was preparing me to accept this outcome. I have had moments of complete submission, where I willingly gave up my most coveted desires, and I entrusted my life into the hands of God.

The pain in my heart sometimes whispers thoughts of bitterness and anger that my girls were taken from me. "If God really loved me, why would he do such a thing?" And, I find myself needing to discern between the truth and the lies that fill my mind. God has not taken my girls from me. He has not abandoned me. He has not stripped me of my promised blessings. No. He has rather ensured the immediate return of our girls to His presence and with that the blessing of motherhood to come in a day not far distant.

I know that over the course of the last six months, maybe even much longer than that, God has been preparing me to accept the outcome of our daughters' short lives. It is a daily battle to fight away the feelings of frustration and sadness that try to deceive me into believing that I have been robbed and cheated and denied. Deep down I know I haven't. Deep down I know that God loves me and is so tenderly aware of me right now. Deep down I trust in Him and in His will for my life. Deep down I want to submit my will and desires to Him, like I have before, knowing that He will bless me with the courage to accept the outcome, just like He has before. 

"... the submission of one’s will is really the only uniquely personal thing we have to place on God’s altar. The many other things we “give”... are actually the things He has already given or loaned to us. However, when you and I finally submit ourselves, by letting our individual wills be swallowed up in God’s will, then we are really giving something to Him! It is the only possession which is truly ours to give!"

 - Neal A. Maxwell (Ensign, November 1995)


Andrea said...

I am at awe with your words, testimony and strength. You truly are amazing!
When we were at the hospital with Wyatt and praying for a miracle to happen I knew I had to submit to Heavenly Fathers will. Every prayer ended with they will be done. There was a certain power and comfort that came to me when I did this. When the time came to watch our little boy leave this earth a peacefulness come over us and we knew it was Heavenly Fathers will that Wyatt should leave this earth. That strengthened us. Now after 5 months there are days when I question and wonder why. I needed your post today. Thank you Megan. I truly am grateful for the strength and understanding your words give me. I'm grateful our paths have crossed. I've gained so much from you.

The De Vries Family said...

I just wanted you to know that you are in my prayers today. I'd give you a hug if I could.

Kamie said...

What an amazing example you are to me.

Love you guys!

Clark and Jolie said...

Megan, you don't know me but I must confess that I have been reading your blog....because your words help me as I struggle with infertility and adoption losses. I came across a link to your blog while searching an FSA website. I am so sorry for your loss. My heart hurts for you. Please know that your words and your testimony are a strength to others. My prayers are with you and your family.

mindyluwho said...

I have such a struggle with submitting my will to the Lord. Today I was very whiny and questioning some circumstances that are certainly very trivial compared to what you are going through and I am humbled by your words and sweet testimony. My prayers are with you.

Gourley Family said...

I needed that today. I forget so often that I am not the one in control. It reminds me of when kids get to the age where they want and try to do it my themselves. And although they have the potential to be able to do it, they try and try to do it by themselves, but seem to always need some loving hands to help accomplish the job. I am going to find it in my heart to submit my will to our Heavenly Father. I miss my babies so much, and my arms ache so, but I know I will be a Mom again.

Sam and Lacey said...

I love this and it truly is all in the lords hands. I just have to remember that he is in charge. He gave me my life as a gift and could take it back anytime he wants. I know he wouldn't do it to hurt us sometimes he just wnats to show us what we are capable of and that he really is helping us and loving us.

Josh and Cali said...

Wow. You are so amazing at being able to express your thoughts and feelings in a way that brings on the spirit so strongly. I am in awe by your example and the things that you have written. You said that you were mainly writing this for yourself- but I know differently. :) You have touched so many different people and I am so grateful for you, your family, and the words that you are able to express. I am positive that your little girls are so proud of you because I know that I am!!