Living with an open hand
I don't know if it was the icon, the fact that many people I know are pregnant, or the fact that I am forty and haven't had a baby in 3 years, but the phrase "open to life" has been bouncing around in my head with increasing trajectory for weeks.
In my history as a mother, not one other question has been asked of me with more frequency and with sincere curiosity than, "How many kids do you think you'll have?"
After about 5 years and 4 children, I landed on an all purpose answer that got my point across, wasn't hostile, and usually ended the line of questioning quickly. The answer?
"I don't know, because my husband and I are open to life."
Interestingly, no one asked me, "What does 'open to life' mean?', which was fortunate, because I am not entirely certain I knew what it meant. At the time it meant being willing to hear the "yes" to new children, even if it was challenging, or I was afraid, or I was feeling overwhelmed.
Eventually, I had to work through the idea of using Natural Family Planning, and if I was still "open to life" at that time. Could I still hear the "Yes" to creation that God was whispering to me? Turns out I could, as we had baby number 6 during that time, and when one leaves a window of opportunity open for God, and He wants something, He uses that window.
Now that I have seven children, and I am nearly 41 years old, being open to life is beginning to mean something else entirely. Something I never imagined. When people ask me now if I think I "am done", I still use the same answer, but a sinking feeling hits me at the same time and whispers, "I might be done." Now, being open to life means being open to hearing "No" to creation. It means not assuming there will always be a baby in our home, and yet, still keeping the ear ready to hear the "yes", in case that should be in God's plan.
I thought it was very challenging to keep my heart open to all the "yeses" God asked of me. I am finding keeping my heart open to the "nos" to be even more difficult. Or should I say, to the "maybes". I can say I do not look forward to 16 weeks of severe nausea, or the inevitable weight gain, or even the long, sleepless nights of the newborn phase. And yet, the thought of never having another one or "our" babies here, no more new combinations of my husband and I to marvel over and love, well, that makes my heart ache.
So now, open to life doesn't mean just being open to a new baby, it means being open to God being finished with the co-creation in our marriage. It means being willing to accept my life in thanks and joy regardless of what God's plans are for me. It means living my life with an open hand, and open heart, and not always having a vision for what my future will bring, and it means believing that God already is there, in my future, giving my all the blessings I need, no matter what they are.
(Photo found here)
Labels: children growing up