As Christians, we're taught to cushion our prayers and petitions with "as long as it is Your will, God…"
But what about when God answers our prayers with an emphatic "No"? Not "maybe" or "not right now." But black and white "No."
For the past few years, our family has felt incomplete to me. I have felt a growing longing to have another child. I have prayed that God would either grow our family or settle my heart, still my desire for another child.
This week, we found out that the baby we lost last month had Down Syndrome.
And, just like that, God has swiftly answered my prayer to grow our family with an emphatic NO.
Sure, we could try again. But, with 5 early miscarriages, 2 babies lost with Down Syndrome and Bodie's heart defect, it would just feel like bowling in a field of land mines. The risk of major medical issues would just be so high. And our life is so complicated, between our housing situation and Bodie's medical issues, to intentionally try to bring another child into the world with such a large probability of special needs.
We would have loved any child that God chose to bring to us, and embraced his or her disability. But, to knowingly try to get pregnant with such high odds is a whole different scenario.
And yes, adoption is always a possibility. But, I think anyone who has watched our life unfold in the past year would agree that our life is hardly stable enough for anyone to want to place a child into it.
And so, just like that, the door is closed.
No, actually, it's flipping locked and they don't even make the key anymore.
And so I find myself desperately trying to open a locked door, saying "WAIT A MINUTE! What the heck just happened here? WHY is that door closed all of the sudden? I swear it seemed open a second ago…I'm not ready for it to be closed - I need to talk this through first!!!"
We have prayed that God would guide our family decisions.
And He has.
But not the way I ever expected.
Certainly not the way I anticipated when I prayed for Him to guide and grow our family "according to Your will, God, not mine."
Did I really mean that? Would I have really meant that had I known what HIS will really was?
So what now? What, then, do we do when God answers and we don't want the answer?
Do we kick and cry and scream? Do we plead and try to negotiate?
Always my first instinct.
I don't think I ever reached anger in this, or anything we have faced in the past few years. I don't know why, except that it never makes much sense to me to be mad at God. But I have definitely wrestled with sadness, with wanting to understand. Struggled with not understanding why He continues to allow the pain in, wrestled with wanting to take my life from Him, and manage it as I see fit. I have this thought that, if only He would allow me to help Him manage my life, and, heck, the entire world, things would run a lot better.
And yet, I know it is futile. He is the creator of the universe. What could I possibly know about running my life that could even pale in comparison to how He would run it? And, I know He loves us. More than I could ever even begin to fathom.
He knows the pain I have in losing so many children from my womb. He knows my confusion, my sadness. He feels everything. And He loves me through it all. What immense comfort there is in that.
So in answer to what we do when God answers and we don't want the answer?
We pray. And then we pray some more. And then, when we think we're done, we hit our knees and pray some more. We pray for understanding, for enough understanding to find peace. We pray for patience to wait on His timing and goodness. We pray for forgiveness, to get past the hurt, the wrongs and the disappointments. And we pray for softened hearts.
We seek out wise counsel. We talk to pastors, to counselors, to Godly Christian friends. We ask them to pray with us, and for us, and over us.
We seek out His comforts…in friends He has sent to walk alongside us, in "coincidences" that make our journey to recovery a little easier, in family members who love on us. We choose to see His hand not just in the bad, but in the good.
We open our Bibles. Even if they're dusty and haven't been cracked in awhile. Maybe even moreso in that case. We seek out His promises. We ask Him to remind us when He has provided in the past, to provide gentle reminders that He is always there and always will be.
And we pray for HIS will…even if it's not ours.
Especially when it's not ours.