"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.