I want to be a wife and mom.
Besides Jesus and maybe a “Beauty and the Beast”-esque library, I want wife-hood and mom-hood more than anything else in this world. More than a better paycheck, more than losing 20 pounds, more than a trip around the world, more than my own house, I want a husband and children.
Not just “Oh yeah, it’s kind of a toss-up between a house and a family for me.” No. If my desire for comfortable high heels is a 1, and breakfast in the morning is a 3, and a walk-in closet filled with dresses that magically look great on me all the time is a 4, and a pink hovercar is a 7, and the most I think I could ever possibly want something in the world is a 10, then husband/kids is probably like a 12.
I’m not always honest with myself about this fact. I hide the extent of my desire (“Nooooo, Husband/Kids is totally only a 7.5. Ptch. I want soooooo many other things from life first.”) from my friends, family, readers, and even myself most days because – well, because of a few reasons, I guess:
- It hurts too much to dwell on the fact that I’m not getting what I want.
- It makes me feel like a failure, like I haven’t prayed hard enough or done the right things to achieve my dreams.
- It makes me seem unholy or unspiritual or a bad Christian, because I want something sooooooo much, when Jesus is supposed to be enough.
Even with this blog, I’ve done quite a bit of squashing the desire for a family of my own. By saying that my hope is in Jesus or I’m learning great things through waiting or Jesus is all the husband I need, I’m telling one kind of truth and suppressing another.
These past couple of days, the desires to be married and to be a mother have reared their tenacious heads and grabbed hold of me and demanded to be acknowledged and nurtured. My first reaction is to be like, “Quiet! Get down. I can’t let anyone know how strong you are or how big you’ve become. Last time anyone saw you, you were a 6.”
But I’m done with that reaction. I’m going to take out my size 12 desires here in front of everyone and show them off right now. I can be just as tenacious as they are, and I’m about to apply the Gospel to these bad boys.
My desire for my own family is God-given. The Bible talks all over the place about how marriage is wonderful and desirable (Matthew 19:4-6), a beautiful picture of Jesus’ love for His church (Ephesians 5:22-32). It mentions several times that children are gifts of God (Psalm 127:3). It also says that every good and perfect gift is from God (James 1:17), and that we should ask boldly for good things from Him (I John 5:14-15).
So if the desire itself isn’t sinful, then why does God let me have this desire that when I stare it in the face makes my gut hurt and my eyes water and my heart ache with longing?
If a man and babies aren’t God’s plan for me right now, then why doesn’t he take away the desire for now and give it back to me when it’s time for those things?
I think it’s for four reasons. Because of my experience with this particular desire,
- I get to know myself better. Two things have made me come face-to-face with myself and fully process life: travel and singleness. Travel enables me to process other people and cultures, and singleness enables me to process myself. God knew before the foundation of the world that the desire to end my singleness would be what sits me down in front of a journal or a computer or a best friend and says, “know thyself.” It informs the way I pray, write, and talk about myself.
- I get to know other people better. Because I’m intimately acquainted with the deep, deep groanings of unfulfilled longing, I can connect with and counsel and pray for other people who are in the same situation – whether their desires are the same as mine or not. Compassion and empathy don’t come naturally to me; but in this area, they’re my default settings.
- I get to know Jesus better. Jesus created a beautiful world with perfect people in it (Genesis 1:31), people who rejoiced in His presence and reveled in His goodness. Then we (humans) sinned and broke fellowship with Him (Genesis 3), and for centuries – millennia – He so deeply, deeply desired that fellowship with us that He came down to earth as a human to do something about it (Matthew 1:21). The Bible talks about Jesus’ longing for that unity so strongly that he cried to God in prayer (John 17), and to His people in lament (Luke 19:41-44). Just as Jesus longed for His heavenly bride, I long for my earthly husband (though, perhaps, there are more hormones involved in my desire than in Jesus’).
- I get to anticipate heaven better. Jesus died to pay for our sins, and He rose so that we can be His bride in heaven (Romans 4:25). Now that Jesus has made a way for us to be with Him, the Bible says that all of creation groans and waits for the day He will return (Romans 8:19-22). If I didn’t know what it was like to desire something with the very core of who I am, I wouldn’t understand this. I would just think that creation is throwing a global warming hissy fit because it’s not getting what it wants. But because I understand desire itself, I understand the desire for sin to be gone and Jesus’ rule to be established forever (Revelation 21). I understand the unspeakable longing for heaven and look forward even more to the end of all unfulfilled desires.
So my desires to be a wife and mother are good, godly, beautiful, and holy. God built them into the fabric of humanity and into my soul from birth. But what I choose to do with them – how I respond when they decide to have a staring contest with me – that’s what makes or breaks me.
I’ve noticed that my wifely/motherly desires can drive me to despair – like when I hold a newborn, knowing most of my childbearing years are behind me, and think I might as well just give up on my dreams.
I think the world would probably say something like, “Get in touch with your desires, girl. Self-realization is AWESOME.” Or “Just have faith, and you’ll get your man someday.” Or “work hard and make those dreams a reality, sister.” I’m going to see “Cinderella” tonight (without a date), and I have “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes” stuck in my head even as I’m writing this blog. I love that song; but at the moment, I kind of want to shoot it in the head. Wishing for something doesn’t make it happen; heck, praying for something doesn’t even seem to make it happen in this case. Thinking like this is what makes me melodramatically despair of everything.
Or my desires can drive me to hope and thankfulness – like when I help my roommate with DIY projects for her wedding and help her boyfriend plan his proposal; like when I do happy dances with each of them separately over the wonderful, beautiful fulfillment of their life-long godly desires, rejoicing with them over their dreams coming true.
When I choose hope in the longing, I get something better than a husband and kids, something better than the fulfillment of my desires – I get life. I get joy. I get a story better than Disney could write. Ultimately, I get Jesus.
I. Get. Jesus.
That’s so important and so impactful because Jesus is and provides what’s best for me. He knew what I needed when I was born a sinner (Him to pay for my sins with His death); He knows what I need to make me run to Him (the unfulfilled desire for a husband/kids); He knew what I’m going to need when I die (Him to rise from the dead, thus conquering death and making a way for me to be with Him forever).
He knows what I need so well that He provided two of those things centuries before I was even born; the other, He provided around the time I figured out that I could marry my little sister off to our giant teddy bear.
So if Jesus
- Knows what’s best for me
- Provides it
then I can trust that this unfulfilled desire is best for me – and that it will be fulfilled when He decides that fulfillment of that desire is best for me. If nothing else, I’m learning that He is better than a level-12 desire. Which makes Him totally out-of-this-world great. And me totally out-of-this-world grateful.
I can only sit in awe of how my most deeply-rooted longings and heartache can turn into such deeply-rooted gratefulness.
And THAT is enough. JESUS is enough.
I. Get. Jesus.