Between I will and I do….the “baby” question

Getting married at this stage of my life has its definite advantages. There is much of what I wanted to achieve and do that has been done.  It also comes with its own challenges.  Challenges that one would expect like learning to let go of some independence, learning what inter-dependence looks like and figuring out how to share my space naturally with another, appreciating that when God says two are better than one and a cord of three isn’t easily broken, that the bonding of this cord happens as things are resolved (this means wrestling, stand offs, choices and inevitable conflict at times). Challenges as families shift in their understanding of each other and the way that we are involved in each other’s lives.

It also means that we learn to trust another’s involvement in our lives and our life choices:  not because the other is the “boss of me” but because the other actually cares about me and wants me to be a good “boss of me”.

One of the hardest things for me, especially as we have made choices not to live together, not to sleep together and are doing our courtship the “old school” Christian way of preparing for marriage- there is lots of anticipating and excitement, but also recognising that our first year of marriage may have lots of ‘refining moments’– is the fact the people frequently feel the need to tell me to hurry up and have babies because I am getting on…. (Open private speech bubble: It’s hard not want to ask you what you know about my ovaries or my fiancé’s reproductive capacity in these conversations: Close private speech bubble)

Thank you for believing that I will make a good mom.

Thank you for being interested in our lives.

And now I am going to thank you for trusting that this is something that my fiancé and I have spoken about; have prayed about; have made choices about too.  A wise friend said to me when I voiced my frustration:  There isn’t only one way of having babies nowadays – and there are no guarantees regardless of age or planning or how much of a good parent one may potentially be. My Ouma had her last child at the age of 44, AFTER a mastectomy and a bout with breast cancer.  He is perfectly healthy.  Yes, the risks are there.  Yes, it may be harder but it also may be easier for me than for some of my other friends who have done EVERYTHING right – they eat well, they keep their body fat at the optimal percentage, they exercise, they LOVE children and they have a supportive community around them and yet, I know their heartaches and things just not happening despite trying for months at the optimal age. Not just one friend – numerous friends! There are no guarantees in any of this.

It has been hard to know how to respond when the day we got engaged people started telling me I needed to start trying; or asking how long we planned on waiting because….well, you know, Lex, you are old; or going to an appointment with the lady doctor and being told to go home and make a baby now because the egg was in the perfect place according to the scan (She got asked to behave!).  It’s hard when I know that people don’t mean this badly. 

We would like to walk down the aisle first.  We would like to be in a position, where as a self-employed person, I don’t need to work for 3 months and we will be financially comfortable.  We would like to have memories of us 2 before we make memories of us 3 or us 4.  We also know that we want to choose a baby –regardless of whether we ‘make a bio-baby’ or not.

In the midst of all the pending changes, the last thing my heart, my brain and my body can cope with is the idea of being a mom on top of this all.  Yes, there are risks. We are risking joining 2 lives.  We are risking making decisions around careers and homes and futures as a couple.  We are risking giving up individual adventures to have a joint adventure.  Allow us to risk this well before we risk together with the life of another little person.  We want to risk for and with them. We want to love them well – more than well.

Just give us a little bit of time to get there!

Loving WHOLEheartedly

God doesn’t ask us to love in halves……. (2009)

This has been tumbling around in my head; over and over and over again…..during a discussion with a friend recently I was warned to guard my heart in terms of the way I loved a foster baby… through my tears I responded God does not call us to love in halves.  Nowhere in scripture does it say:

Kinda love them

Love, but hold back

Share your love in part…..

Imagine if God only loved us half.  He adopted us so he is under no obligation to love us with everything, I mean we not really, totally his since we get to make choices  – oh and we are going to hurt him and let him down, so you know if He only chooses to love us partially, then that’s okay – NO!!!!!  That is so not what love is: chosen, adopted, love means He does whatever it takes for us to understand what His love means.  Yes God is wise in His loving, knowing we are mortal, but does it mean that he loves us less – NO.  In fact it’s almost as if through our brokenness He gets to share His love with us more.

Guard your heart I hear you say – most definitely I respond.  But who better to guard my heart than the author of love – God.  I mean Jesus knows what it means to hurt for love and if I can’t trust Him with my heart then who is safe?

It may mean my heart feels hurt when things don’t always work out comfortably for me – but He won’t let me be harmed, or damaged or permanently wounded so I can’t love and the reason I know this is because if we are called to love and to be an imitator of His image why would we only need to do this in halves?

SO when I look at A, or people in Mozambique who lose everything to natural disaster, or L whose mom poisoned her and I weep for her, it’s because I have opened my heart to love and to feel compassion in a way that means my heart has to be engaged, not just my head.  It means when I look at A that I see an opportunity to love wholeheartedly, knowing that whether I get to love him for 6 weeks or 6 months or 6 years I get to practice being like Jesus.  I look at A, this little 2 yr old ball of energy and am humbled that I get to love him – what an honour.  Me.  In my brokenness, I, Alexa, get to love unconditionally, with all my heart, someone who can’t give back beyond simply being.  Isn’t that awesome?  He chose me long ago – he was the first child to look at me and call me mama.  This invisible thread that connects us that my mom sees and others’ recognise is simply genuine love.

Will I miss him if he gets parents – of course; would I adopt him full time, 24-7 if I could? Without a doubt.  Can I love him enough to let him go to other parents?  I pray for this to happen, much like I pray that God will open the doors if I am going to be the person who gets to love him for life.

Throughout it all though, how dare I try and love in halves, partially, with a big guard across the entrance to my heart?  That’s not love – that is self-protection.

God has taught me that He wants to be my guard.  He wants to hold my heart in the safest place in the universe – His hand and mould it, and grow it and guide it.

Why is this important?  Imagine if we all let our guards down, just 5% – we just were willing to love 5% more.  Real, genuine love.  How different this world would be.  Imagine the depths of relationship we could attain.  Imagine the amount of hurt that would be healed.  Imagine children growing up learning empathy through living in it.  Imagine how more potent our prayers would be – not just for those we are safe to love, but those we have yet to meet.  People in countries we don’t see, yet hear about all the time – are we willing to allow God to show us His heart, just 5 percent more than what we would normally allow in.  How different would this world be?

SO I look at my world and I ask myself:

Who do I get to love in my world?  Who do I get to treasure in my world?  Who do I get to impact with the heart and mind God birthed in me?  And when I put my head down at the end of my day, I don’t ask myself what did I protect myself against – the question I need to sit with is:

Did I love – wholeheartedly, passionately?  Did I love with wild abandon? Did I love generously?  Did I love the way in which I have been loved?

Did I love?