Holy Discontent: Redeeming my Deep Daughter Desire, Part 3

"Heaven is not here, it's There. If we were given all we wanted here, our hearts would settle for this world rather than the next."

- Elisabeth Elliot, Keep a Quiet Heart, pg 28


[[You probably know I had 3 boys in 3 years. You may not have been hanging around my nook of the internet long enough to hear about my strong desire for a daughter. If you don't know the back story, start with Part 1 and Part 2 before reading this.]]

I didn't just want a daughter. I always assumed I would have one.  I have 3 boxes of barbies, two boxes of dress-up clothes, a mountain of favorite little girl clothes from my childhood, and more American Girl doll clothes than I can count just waiting for the daughter I knew I would have. Then I had three boys. The daughter I planned for never came.

I've done the Gollum thing. You know Gollum, the guy in Lord of the Rings who constantly obsesses over "his precious." He is so consumed by the desire that he completely loses his identity as the hobbit Smeagol and becomes the ring-obsessed Gollum. He values the ring so highly that it's all he can think or talk about. The desire for it destroys his life, because nothing seems to matter as much as having that ring. He thinks it's for his best, the ultimate prize, but it destroys him. I've had a ring, a good thing, a good desire that slowly took control of my thinking and living.

When I got pregnant with my third child while my second was only 5-months-old, I thought, "If God is going to make me go through the difficulty of having two babies 13 months apart, then surely he will give me my longed-for girl." I'll never forget that ultrasound. My husband sat down and cried as the tech finished, and as soon as she was done I gave into the grief myself. I couldn't stop weeping. I could barely speak to the doctor through my tears. I knew I should be thankful for another healthy boy, but I couldn't see past my desire for a girl.

I lived in that space for a long time. Where my head was happy to have three sweet boys and an amazing husband, but my heart was lost to the daughter I wouldn't have. 

Praise God, he wouldn't leave me there. Slowly, against my own will to wallow, God has how my heart experiences grief. I'm never going to not want a daughter, but in that constant state of always wanting, but never getting, I can still be fully satisfied in Jesus. This is a place of holy discontent, where I'm constantly aware that my circumstances are wholly insufficient to satisfy the desires of my heart.

When I feel the punch of unexpected pain, I now find the wholeness of a triune God. When the grief floods my soul, God is waiting. God the Father reminds me: I know the pain of letting go of a child. I know that it takes loss to create a redemption story. Jesus empathizes: I understand what its like to bend my will to the Father's, to walk through the shadows to achieve redemption. I sat in the darkness of my Father's wrath to achieve your freedom. The Holy Spirit whispers: May this sadness remind you that there is no satisfaction in the gifts of this world. Let this holy discontent point you to the only true source of contentment. Your family is not enough to make you whole, but I am.

I begged God for a daughter, but he answered with his Son, in whom all the promises of God are Yes. I can live like Gollum, holding so tightly to my unfulfilled desire that I lose myself in it, or I can make peace with my holy discontent. My daughter desire will never go away, but it can be redeemed from something that drives me to sin into God's tool that drives my wandering heart back to Jesus, in whom all of my desires will be satisfied.

From March 2013, Loss of the Little: Thoughts on the 31st birthday of the brother I haven't met yet.

March 1. It comes every year, and every year I see my parents struggle through it. But the past three years have been different for me; they have allowed me to understand in a way a never did before pregnancy and motherhood. On March 1, 1982, my older brother, Joshua Isaac was born without life. 


When I spoke with my dad today, he talked about not knowing his son. That’s what I kept thinking today too. I have a brother that I do not know. God gave me this one simple encouragement: I will know Joshua one day, and our relationship will never be tainted by sin as my relationships are with my other brothers. Great times of fellowship and love will be shared, and no sin will be a part of it. That is a beautiful thing. Praise God.


I found myself thinking about my brother all day. He was supposed to be my mom’s second child, my mom’s second son. And he was, but he wasn’t. My parents never got to know him; they only got to release him to the Lord. Now I am pregnant with my second child, my second son, and I can only pray pray pray that God will grant this little boy the grace to live. With this second boy thing: I just can’t help but think of Joshua Isaac. I named my first son after him, with a holy fear that he would not be the sacrifice I had to give. Now I am praying that God will not repeat my family’s history. I am not living in fear every day, but there is always that nagging reminder that sometimes pregnancy doesn’t end like we planned it.


This year has been a tough one in this regard. After months of waiting to get pregnant, I find myself pregnant while my best friend suffers her second miscarriage. Her second baby boy gone. She was due two days after me, yet I will remain pregnant and she feels empty. Why? These pregnancies were God’s double blessing to us. We both needed them, but hers was taken away while mine remains. It’s the kind of mercy I can only tremble at.


These thoughts don’t get wrapped up in a pretty bow. I wish they could. But through the pain of baby deaths around me, God reminds me of this: HE holds life in his hand. Only He can give life. Only He can take it away. Nothing that I have done deserves this precious life inside of me. God’s blessings don’t come to those who deserve them, and those who don’t receive them don’t deserve them any less than those who do. Deserving anything other than death is a lie. I am a sinner: I deserve death. God gave me life, and He gave me life inside of me. I don’t know why, but that’s what He chose to do.


So let’s strive to take away the shame of infertility and child loss. Ok? There is nothing wrong with those women. There is nothing they can do to trick God into blessing them with babies. God holds life in his hands. He will give and take away. In our video session for Bible study this week, Beth Moore challenged us that maybe the women we know who haven’t had things come naturally to them (like marriage, babies, perfect Christian children, etc) don’t have anything wrong with them. Maybe they don’t have a hidden sin to deal with before God will bless them. Maybe there isn’t a lesson they need to learn. Maybe it’s just that God chose those women to make something natural into supernatural so that when they are blessed people can’t help but see the glory of God in it.


Glory to God, I am praying that for every woman I know who is waiting for something supernatural right now, and I can assure you, I know a lot.

Broken and Rebuilt: a purpose for the little years

Sometimes motherhood breaks you apart. A couple of years ago I was in a season when two of my children would express their displeasure by banging their darling heads against the wood floor. One was simply imitating the other. He was less hardcore in his passion and would usually choose a softer surface, but the other son was serious. He would move to a hard floor to bang that head because carpet was simply too plush to properly display his passion. These fits came often and felt like failure. I started thinking that motherhood might kill me.

Motherhood got a hold of me and it was wringing my neck. Not physically, of course, but it was cracking apart all the pieces of my personhood. I felt like my personality, my passions, my self was sinking into the quicksand of this impossible job. All I could manage to be was simply mom, and I was barely surviving that.

The little years are such a short season. Put your head down and plow through it. Survive what feels impossible and motherhood will get easier. I've heard this advice practically everywhere: podcasts, instagram, blogs, and interviews. The consensus seems to be that baby and toddler years are nearly impossible, but don't worry, it will be over soon.

This advice misses the point. If we merely grit our teeth and simply survive this season, it will mean nothing. When every day feels like it is sucking a month of your life away, this short season can feel like eternity. I simply could not experience this draining, exhausting breaking of myself just to make it to the other side with a pile of pieces of who I once was. There had to be something more.

God has a greater purpose for these impossible years of little ones. God's purpose in motherhood is not keeping our kids alive. God's purpose for our motherhood is not even raising perfect, Christian kids. God uses the tool of motherhood to hollow us out of all the things that we've built ourselves upon so he can fill us up with Jesus.

I'm mostly on the other side of this season now, and I can tell you that God holds who you are in his hands. He is your keeper. He who created you will salvage the best pieces of who he made you to be, and rebuild a new you out of this season--a you fully reliant on the power of the gospel for every moment of every day. Don't just survive this season. Don't grasp the pieces that you think define you so tightly that God can't rebuild you. Give up yourself, not to your kids, but to God. Give up your energy to be renewed with his. Give up your checklist for his best laid plans. Give up yourself, and find God's faithfulness.

Jesus makes all things new (Rev 21:25a). Even you, worn out and broken mom. Even in this overwhelming impossible season. Renewal by Jesus is worth the pain, trial, and tears. Discovering his faithfulness makes being broken apart worth every painful moment. If you're empty and broken, take heart, Jesus has plans to rebuild you into something new.