Her little room was nestled into a corner in the basement, the only space we could create in our small two-bedroom bungalow. To some, it might have been a glorified walk-in closet, but I had made it into a sweet baby girl’s room. The walls were painted a light grey, with white trim baseboards. Her closet was a little inlet in the wall, covered with a coral pink curtain with a white lattice pattern. There were owls decorating the walls and her crib, with a nice accent mint thrown in. My favorite spot was the glider. I had put it together when I was pregnant with Parker, but it really didn’t get much use until Avery was born. I remember sitting in it and rocking back and forth, 9 months pregnant and overdue, wondering what it would be like to have her in my arms.
Now she was two. And every night our routine was to sit and rock, read a book, and sing a song. She loved the book with ducks in it and would point at each scene, repeating words she had heard so many times: water, duck, quack, mommy duck, baby duck, flower. Without fail she requested “Jesus Loves Me” as her goodnight song. I would hold her close and sing that familiar refrain, Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Little ones to him belong, they are weak but he is strong. Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me. YES, Jesus loves me, the Bible tells me so. Such simple words, not unlike the childish phrases Avery was learning to say. But that year they meant something so much more to me. It was a song I sang to put my sweet toddler to sleep. And a song to sing to my soul, to put my fears and worry to rest.
Jesus loves me, this I know. In crisis everything becomes unknown. I’d be lying if I said I never doubted God’s love for me. Wondering where he was and why he didn’t seem to care that my heart was being obliterated. Begging him to listen to my tear-soaked prayers and fix my impossibly broken life. But, eventually, I would always come back to this. Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so. When my feelings were unreliable and my surroundings quicksand, this truth was all I could hold onto. “He says he loves me. He says my tears matter and my pain won’t last forever. He promises to redeem my life from the pit. To be my strength when I am weak. Jesus loves me.” That, above all else, I knew.
Two years later, I could never have imagined where I am today. Never in a million years. When the reality of the impending divorce hit me I would often sit and calculate how long it would be before my life was any kind of normal. One year or more to grieve and process, another few to begin to thrive, eventually meet someone, date for a year, etc. Any dreams of having more children were gone. No hope of giving my children a two-parent, godly home to grow up in. Basically, in my mind, life was going to be hard and painful for at least the next six years. Best case scenario. I told a few friends my well-thought-out plan. My wise friend Sherah just said, “don’t limit God. We’ll see what he wants to do.” There may have been wisdom in “my plan”, but it certainly didn’t involve trusting God and finding joy in him, rather than in my circumstances.
I don’t know why I was given the gift of remarriage so quickly — or at all. I don’t know why only one year after my divorce I have a handsome and godly husband, an unexpected but very wanted pregnancy, and kids that are thriving in their new environment. I don’t deserve it. God didn’t owe me anything for the pain I went through. All these blessings don’t prove that Jesus loves me any more than the worst circumstances negated his love. Either way, in joy or in trial, God is unspeakably good. He writes complicated yet beautiful stories. I think it’s why I’ve had such a difficult time writing about this new story. Because it is complicated, it is painful, it joy-filled, it isn’t at all anything I’d necessarily recommend to others, and yet it’s utterly perfect and fitting for us. But regardless of my particular experiences, my friend’s advice stands: don’t limit God. In all things entrust yourself to the one whose love is perfect and unfailing, not in your plans, fears, or expectations. Who knows where you’ll be in a year?