For our family and for our more immediate circles of friends, Lent was a time of waiting. Waiting for acceptance letters, job offers, test results, moving dates, a new roommate. There has been a lot of “pray for us” and “we’re praying for you” circulating in these parts, which is good. I am reminded every day that I live among people who rely not simply on themselves, but on others and on God.
Some of these waits have come to a happy endings: a sister is determining at which wonderful school she will start the next chapter of her life, a friend’s mother has been declared cancer-free.
On the other hand, the matters that remain unresolved don’t look like they’re going to be settled soon. We are very clearly on God’s time, not our own. As decisions get pushed back again and again, it’s tough not to indulge a “what’s next?” mentality and wonder why God is asking us to wait so seemingly long to take the next step.
Without some kind of milestone to look towards, I find myself struggling to balance having hope without having expectations. I trust that God has good things in store for us, but I can’t help trying to guess what they are, even convincing myself I know what they are at times. I have been through so many iterations of what the rest of this year will look like for us, but I don’t think I’ve gotten it right yet. And how could I?
I am stalled in this mindset until I can accept the lack of control I have in my life. My experience with Ethan is forcing me to concentrate on this lesson.
It is impossible to know at what moment a child is conceived. Even modern medicine confesses there can be up to a five-day range during which conception might occur. As a mother who wants to know her children to the fullest, I wish I could have felt the moment Jacob or Ethan came to be. But I’m simply not capable of that. I only began to struggle with this when I realized I also didn’t know the moment at which Ethan died.
When I learned he had been gone for two weeks before I was the wiser, I was numb. Something told me that would be the part of it all that I would struggle with most, and it has truly shaken me. The lack of control I recognized there has made me want control over something else, the future somehow. But as twists and turns keep appearing on our journey, I am reminded that I really can’t predict what’s next. I pray for the peace to stop trying.
Every day I say two prayers of St. Ignatius of Loyola that I learned while an undergrad at Boston College. They have made all the difference in my life in the last two years, and I realize they are part of what will help me learn to separate hope from expectation. They illustrate for me that pivotal line from Jesus in Gethsemane: “ . . . not My will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42). This way of thinking, this way of living, assumes trust in God’s will, and if being a mother has taught me anything, it’s that God’s will is the only way for me.
The easier and more immediate good in this is that I am finding a renewed desire to live every day to its fullest. When something promising is on the horizon—the birth of a child, a job change, whatever—it is more fun to live in countdown mode. There is nothing to immediately look forward to, so today needs to be enough. Today always should be enough.