And then comes the curveball.
Mine was infertility. I'd always planned on having a bunch of kids. Of course, I cloaked that under the phrase "however many God gives me," but at the end of the day, the plan was not one kiddo in six years.
These six years have brought so much heartache as I have wrestled with how my reality meshes with my dream. How to make the two work?
Maybe God's timing was a little slower than mine, I thought. Another month, another six months, another year, passed by - no baby. Maybe He was just testing me. Maybe I needed to become "more spiritual." Maybe there was too much sin in my life. Maybe, maybe, maybe. I tormented myself with "maybe's."
But I never once considered this: that maybe my plan was wrong. Maybe my plan was just that: mine. Maybe I had never really taken the time to seek my Abba's plan for our family, for how many children He wanted us to have.
Maybe my infertility was a gift.
It sounds strange, bizarre even. How could infertility - something that brings so much emptiness, so much grief and pain - be a gift - something wonderful and special and treasured that is given out of love?
It was a thought that randomly ran through my mind several weeks ago, totally unprompted. I was trying to sleep and then, there it was, in all of its confusing-ness.
Yet, as I look back over my life to this point, I see a principle ringing true - that often the twists and turns my life has taken have been for my best, even when I couldn't see them at the time.
Take, the guy I was interested in, back in 2005. I was extremely courtship-minded and was definitely heart-invested with him. He had a pretty major accident and stopped writing for several months, but I waited. After all, he fit "my" plan, right? He must be the one. One February afternoon, I discovered he was not. He was married, and I have reason to believe he was married the entire time we were communicating, though he led me to believe otherwise.
I was crushed. How could this happen? I'd tried to be so careful, involving my parents during the process and trying to stick to spiritual conversations. I didn't understand.
It was only a short time after that that I met my husband. Over the months that we spent getting to know each other, all I could think was just how thankful I was that things hadn't worked out with this other guy. Sure, it was painful. But the end result - falling in love with a man who truly loved me, who helped me to heal and grow in ways I didn't know I needed - was so much more beautiful than my plan.
And so, I look at my infertility, in all of its ugliness, and have to wonder - can He make something beautiful out of even this? Can this become a gift?
It's hard to imagine. It's hard to believe. But I cling to the truth that my Abba can take even the ugliest of things, even the hardest struggles, and make something radiantly beautiful out of them.
I can't wait to catch a glimpse.
"Unless a grain of wheat that falls to the ground dies, it stays just a grain; but if it dies, it produces a big harvest." (John 12:24)