This was his design I’m sure. I don’t doubt that Mary would have refused God anything, but I believe He laid her life out as an example for all of us. Dr. Edward Sri discusses the many times Mary says “yes” to God after her big “yes” to the angel in his book Walking with Mary. He talks about how she was given opportunities at his presentation in the temple, the wedding at Cana, etc each time learning a little more about how His life and hers would unfold, each time getting another opportunity to say yes or no.
Dan and I are celebrating our tenth wedding anniversary this week. We’ve been reflecting a lot about the promises we made ten years ago, about the people we were back then, and most of all how we really had no idea back then how our lives would unfold. We realize, when we said “I do” we really had no idea what we were getting in to.
Had I stood on that altar ten years ago and someone asked me “will you suffer loss after loss of your biological children for the rest of your marriage?” would my answer still have been yes? Had they told me I was signing up for the heartache of saying goodbye to babies I raised as a social worker drives them away to parents who have abused them in the past, would I have run out of that church? If they said “your yes today means the rest of your life will be filled with a roller coaster of custody battles and children who trust you to protect them but someone else controls their future,” I just can’t imagine I could have choked out an “I will.”
We didn’t know all of that. We knew it would be hard, just laying down our lives for the other, and it was…still is. It was a big yes, to give our lives in service to God and to each other, laying aside any plans we might have for the new journey God would take us on. But in his wisdom, He really let us give a small yes. A “yes” to inviting life into our marriage. To letting the holy spirit work. A yes that led to heartbreak, that would have been easy to see from a distance.
But a Yes that also led to peace, growth, understanding, compassion, and even (especially) joy. I would not have been convinced of this until I was there. I wouldn’t have believed as a 22 year old bride that this suffering would be in fact a great gift. That it would be used to draw me closer to Him, draw us closer to each other, and draw others to Him. I wouldn’t have believed the incredible way I would experience the love of God through his presence and through community when I came to the absolute end of myself. I wouldn’t have guessed we could see the absolute worst in each other and actually love each other more.
So he asked for a little yes instead. And I joyfully gave it. And when our babies died we gave another little “yes”, to a different plan He might have. And when a little boy came to live at our house, our yes to him turned into a yes to foster care, a yes I don’t know we would have ever said otherwise. And the heartache is terrible. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, to raise a baby for a year and say goodbye. And I wish it for everyone. Because I got to love that baby for a year and I can’t imagine my life had she not been a part of it. Because I got to love like there was no tomorrow. Because she is made in the likeness of God, and each tiny person that comes through these doors shows me another side of Him I never knew. Mary kept saying yes because she knew the beautiful truth, that the hardest things are the best things. It didn’t really matter what the suffering was, because she was with God himself, and that’s always a good place to be.
This scary, difficult life has brought us the joy of Nathaniel, Samuel, Isabella and so many others whose names I can’t share. So now the phone rings and we say a little yes. Never really knowing what we’re getting into except that it will probably be hard, it will probably be joyful, and certainly God will be there.
These last few weeks we’ve been in complete wonder at the gift of life and the journey God has brought us on as we welcomed a brand new baby boy in September. We’re calling him “Tiny”, and we’re all in love with him. In true stork fashion, he was delivered to our doorstep just a few days old, less than 8 lbs and the most precious thing we’ve ever seen.
We could have said no, with a 6 year old and three toddlers our house is pretty full as it is and so are our hands (people keep reminding us when we’re out in public.) There’s a good chance this little guy will incredibly break my heart. But I’m thanking God tonight that I had no idea ten years ago what I was getting into and that I have no idea right now exactly what I said yes to. Because the only thing I know for certain when I look into his beautiful brown eyes, is that God is here. And yes is always the best answer when God is asking the question.