Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Open to Life

There is a lot of talk in Catholic circles about being "open to life," about what it means, what it looks like. Often, discussions can get heated, feelings can get hurt. "Open to life" can look like a large family, one with half a dozen or more children. Sometimes "open to life" looks like my bunco friend, mother of 4: one in college, one in high school, a second grader, and a 3 year old. Often "open to life" is nearly invisible, the pain of multiple miscarriages hiding secret desire.

DH and I have spent many hours discussing what "open to life" means for us, for our marriage: what it looks like, how it plays out, how we rectify "our" family plan with God's family plan.

I think we get it wrong more often than we get it right.

I could say that again and again, about so many topics. It's no secret that I am a control freak, that I am prideful, demanding, and have a hard time letting go and trusting God. I think we get it wrong more often than we get it right.

But, for all that "getting it wrong," one way in which DH and I have always defined "open to life" included "open to fostering or adoption." I cannot begin to count the number of conversations we have had in the past nine years in which we've talked about fostering and/or adopting, when the time seemed right, when the kids were a little older.

Eighteen months ago, I began to pray for a fourth child. I desperately wanted a second daughter to round out our little family. Instead, God blessed my dear friend with a beautiful little girl. DH and I were chosen to be her Godparents, and I contented myself with the knowledge that God had provided me with that second daughter. I just didn't have to get up with her in the middle of the night.

God's plan doesn't always look like our plan. Actually, it rarely does.

On Sunday, my sister called. Can my 11 year old niece come and live with us for a while? There are details to be worked out, but there was no hesitation in the answer. Of course. It's not the "traditional" way to grow a family. It wasn't in my plan. It wasn't in my sister's plan. This is not an easy decision for her, but it is the right one for our families at this point in time.

And so, I am learning to step aside and let God lead. I don't get to define what "open to life" means. I don't get to decide what path my family is placed on. My role is one of loving service, of learning to bend my will to His.

My role is accepting that "open to life" is not a state of mind, but a state of heart.

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