“We must be willing to get rid of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” – Joseph Campbell
This spring, my husband and I adopted an eighteen-month-old little girl. I haven’t had much sleep or time for reflection. However, last week, in a brief moment of solitude, I was overwhelmed with the realization that while I cannot give birth to children, I have the joy of being a mom. I was thinking about how incredibly blessed I am to be the parent of two beautiful adopted children (our son Nate is six). All parents love and cherish their children, but adoptive parents know that there is something unique about the experience of longing, hoping, and waiting for child and then, finally holding a baby in your arms. You can’t believe it is real. It makes the gift of children so precious. I have learned so much from infertility and adopting. One of those lessons translates into so many different areas of our lives.
We all start out with dreams of how our lives will turn out, but eventually life breaks our hearts: divorce, death, a debilitating illness, the end of a career, or even infertility. Sooner or later, life doesn’t go as planned. As a pastor, I have had many conversations with church members who can’t seem to let go of the life they imagined. For some people, the tyranny of the dream is just too much. As a result, they get stuck. I try to help them see that for people of faith, trust in a loving God, a God who is an expert at bringing good out of bad, can change everything. God can help us to let go of the life we planned and recognize that there are other dreams to be had. It is like the prophet Isaiah says,
“Do not remember the former things,
or consider the things of old.
I am about to do a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.” (Isaiah 43:18-19)
Isaiah 43 was written to Israel while they were in exile to remind them of God’s love and commitment to them. Despite their circumstances, Isaiah assures them that God is going to “do a new thing,” which will lead to transformation. Isaiah tells them, “do not remember the former things.” In other words, you have to let go of plans you had. It is time to move on. There are new dreams and bundles of joy to be had, like parenting two children that I didn’t give birth to but that I love with all my heart.
Carol McEntyre is pastor of First Baptist Church, Columbia, Missouri.