Friday, 13 April 2012

Losing Control


Once upon a time, I was a perfect wife and mother with a perfect husband and two perfect children, and we were leading a perfect life. My baby and toddler knew what was expected. They ate and slept and smiled beautifully at all the right times because I was a wonderful mother. In fact I was doing such a fantastic job I thought I could easily handle a third child. I was going to wow the world with my organisational skills. Three little children under three? No problem. I could handle it.

So we ordered up another baby and soon we were looking ahead to the birthday of our next child.

But then something unexpected happened. At first I ignored the symptoms. Surely I was mistaken. Things like miscarriages don’t happen to people like me. But they do and for the first time in my mothering career, I faced the possibility I was no longer in control.

Four miscarriages later, facing the likelihood we would never have that large family we had imagined, I knew for sure I had lost control of my life.

So who was in control? It took me a long time to realise it was God. Eventually after a lot of pain and suffering, I gave up setting my heart on a third child. I still hoped but I was willing to accept whatever happened. I was so very tired of trying to pursue my own dreams and I gave in and let God take control.

God in His goodness eventually blessed us with three more children, and slowly I started taking the strings of my life back into my own hands. I started to forget the lessons that had taken so much heartache to learn. I knew it was risky but I had a plan.

Surely if I was a good enough Catholic I wouldn’t need to undergo any more suffering? Perhaps I’d had my fair share. All I had to do was keep praying and sacrificing and living a model life.

So I never failed to say my Rosary even if it meant praying it very late at night. I always added the Chaplet of Divine Mercy to the end for good measure. There was Mass and spiritual reading and anything else I could think of. It was all very impressive. But…

It didn’t save me.

No, God knew I took pride in all these prayers. He knew I didn’t want to surrender and trust in Him. He knew about my own plan for my life, a plan that included a 6th child.

That beautiful 6th child was conceived and we discovered he had an abnormality ‘incompatible with life’. He was going to die after birth.

My life went spinning out of control again. How I begged God to save me the sorrow of losing a child. But Thomas was born and Thomas died and I grieved.

And finally I learnt how to trust, how to accept the plan God has for my life, how to give over the control I was so tightly attached to. I had to. For without God I would never have survived.

I have had more children and more miscarriages since then. And those losses were easier to bear than the earlier ones. Yes, I mourned the children I never got to meet. But at the same time I felt at peace.

Many years ago, I couldn’t have imagined ending my mothering career with a miscarriage. I thought that ending on a sad note would be unbearable. But things did end sadly. Little Anthony Plunkett died at 12 weeks of gestation in a spectacular manner. When the emergency was over and I was back in one piece in my hospital bed, a social worker came to visit me. She gave me the usual consoling talk and ended up with, “I hope next time you are in here, it will be for a happy reason.”

I replied, “There won’t be a next time.” And as I was saying those words, I realised I accepted that. I was at peace. God had decided. I went home, feeling sad about never meeting Anthony Plunkett but at the same time, I was filled with gratitude that I was alive and returning to the children God had already blessed us with.

So have I got things all worked out now? In my head? Yes. But I am human and sometimes I still think I know better than God. I still get afraid of the thought of suffering more… I am still not perfect.

But in my heart I know that the only way I can survive is by giving control totally over to God. In losing control of my life, I gain joy, peace… God... God who loves me so very much. 

How can I seriously question His plan for my life?

15 comments:

  1. This is another honest and very helpful post. More than you can imagine.

    Yes ... we all like to be in control. It's our nature and no matter how much we like to say we trust God, deep inside, there's always that feeling of ... "what if". "What if what He has planned fo me is not to my liking".

    You're not alone in wishing to be in control. We all do it. And He understands because He created us that way.

    Thank you for this wonderful post Sue.

    God bless.

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    1. Victor,

      Thank you for reading my post.

      It is reassuring to know everyone struggles with giving control over to God, and not just me. It seems to me that the hardest thing about surrendering and trusting God is making the initial decision to do so. Things get easier after that. But what a hard decision to make!

      Thank you for your encouraging comment, Victor.

      God bless!

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  2. Today Joseph is 21 1/2 months old, exactly the age Michael was when he nearly drowned. Thank you for sharing your words today. While the situation is different, the mourning is not. Acceptance is such a good thing and I accept loving Michael just as he is. My head tells me not to miss the smiling, laughing imp he was at 21 1/2 months old and many days, I don't. But some days my heart is simply heavy. Thank you for reminding me to reflect on God is in control.

    God bless you! Sabine in TX

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    1. Sabine,

      You are a very special mother. God has given you such an important role looking after and loving Michael. I guess you often think about what could have been and you mourn for what Michael has lost. I wonder how many hearts Michael has touched and if he is happy even though your heart is heavy. God must have a plan for his life like everyone else because He loves him so very much. Yes, God is in control but it is so very difficult sometimes to keep trusting especially when it involves our beloved children.

      Sabine, thank you so much for sharing with me, particularly today. I am praying for you and Michael and all your family.

      God bless.

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  3. Sue,
    You are a better woman than I because I STILL say, "Surely I've suffered enough for ten lifetimes, Lord." It's very hard to make sense of suffering, especially if it comes from the hands of others. I guess I want to know the why of it though I know I may never get this kind of closure. I'm constantly releasing the reins on my life. This is something I have to do daily. Your post is a beautiful example of the "letting go" that the Lord asks of us. Once again, I am touched by your honesty and your authenticity as a person. Thank you, my friend.

    I don't think I would be exaggerating if I said that God knocks me off my throne daily :)

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    1. Mary,

      I think I've suffered enough for ten lifetimes too!! But you see, I am a slow learner and I'm sure God thinks I could do with a bit more suffering to draw me closer to Him and teach me something more. I don't always like this though!

      At the moment my life is pretty easy and smooth going and I'm beginning to wonder what God has in store for me! After Thomas died, I asked a good and wise friend, "Will God send me more suffering?" and she answered, "Of course... when He thinks you're ready." I was rather dismayed by this reply!

      I think that what helps me give in and let go is getting tired battling against the current. I'm getting quicker at reaching that point when I say, "OK, I've had enough. I accept everything you send. Please help me!" Sometimes I still struggle along even after saying this but eventually...

      My honesty? Thank you for saying it's OK to be honest. It isn't always easy to be open. I wonder what people will think of me.

      That image of God knocking you off your throne daily - I love it!

      God bless you, Mary!

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  4. I've found that being open to life can deceive me into thinking I've surrendered control to God when I still have my own little ideas about the future. As Catholics, I think it's easy to get caught up in thinking that more children is better, instead of remembering that being open to life means being open to no children, too. And, then, when we've had children, I've put my order in for a healthy one, instead of just trusting. Like you, I went through a stage of saying the right number of prayers and going to Mass, every day. It was humbling to realise that I had some pride issues to deal with.

    Great post, Sue:-)

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    1. Vicky,

      We are very good at deceiving ourselves! How differently God must see things sometimes!

      I have to admit I would often get very annoyed when people said such things as, "We have four children... at the moment... this is the start of our family." Such confidence! I was never sure, even when pregnant, if I'd ever get to have and hold my child. Maybe I was jealous of others who seemed to have things easier. And I have to be honest and say there's still a great temptation when people say, "Wow! You've been blessed with a large family!" to tell them all about the sufferings I underwent to receive those children.

      It can be so easy to compare our families and our sufferings and to think someone has it easier than us. I really feel though that we all suffer equally but differently. And sometimes sufferings are hidden... we shouldn't compare.

      We all pray for healthy children. That's natural. The hard bit is adding, "if it is Your will".

      Pride issues? Ooh I know all about those!

      Thank you so much for sharing Vicky. Your comment really touched a chord with me.

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  5. Thanks for the reminders and the beautiful post, Sue. Like you, I've gone through many miscarriages. Like you, the later ones were easier than the first few, but it is always difficult to lose a precious child that God has created through you and your spouse. Our last pregnancy was also a miscarriage and I knew in my heart that we would not be having any more. After experiencing so many miscarriages, I feel tremendously blessed to be raising five sons. Our role as parents is to get our children to heaven. My consolation is that I already have seven precious children in heaven waiting for me. Hugs and blessings to you, Sue...

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    1. Ellen,

      You are a kindred spirit. I know that "Emily's Hope" is based on your own story incorporating your experiences of loss and I am sorry you have had to suffer in this way too.

      I also feel tremendously blessed to be raising my children. At one point I never imagined I would be blessed with so many. It can take courage to keep open to life when the chances of losing a child are high: opening one's self up to possible heartache and medical problems. But of course all the pain was worth it. God is good!

      Yes, all those precious children already in heaven. They are safely there awaiting that wonderful day when we will meet them.

      Sharing a big hug. God bless you, Ellen!

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  6. Hi Sue,

    I guess that's part of being a human. We want to control our lives so we have order and peace. How often God must chuckle at our vain attempts and sigh wishing "we'd just learn to truly trust in Him!" No matter how many times I know this, I go off on my merry way only to tumble and fall! Maybe I'm thick headed that way!

    Easter blessings to you and your family!

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    1. Noreen,

      I am always suspicious of times of order and peace. They usually mean life is about to run out of control again! Strange how life can change overnight. Just as we get all complacent and confident in our own abilities to direct our lives, God seems to allow the carpet to be pulled from under our feet! I don't think you are thick headed at all. I do lots of tumbling as well!

      Thank you for the Easter blessings. I just love the Easter season. I hope you are enjoying it too. I can't wait to see what craft you come up with for Pentecost!

      God bless you!

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  7. This is basically the mantra of my life as well.. I have no control over anything and let thy will be done.

    It is really hard to accept. I think the most touching part of this post is the years of praying Patience and doing everything right but having it seem like god isn't listening.

    I went through this many times in many ways. It really tests your faith. I still struggle with prayer do to this since sometimes I think is god even listening to me????

    Anyway. Great post.

    I am blogging at http:// onourwaytoday.blogspot.com

    Kim

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    1. Kim,

      Yes! There can be times when it seems God is far away and not listening. He does indeed test our faith. I have never been disappointed though. Although I've had many times when I've plodded on, barely able to accept the circumstances God has allowed, He has always brought me through them. You are right that we need patience... lots of it!

      I will visit your blog and catch up on your news, Kim! Thank you for the link. And thank you for stopping by. It is always good to hear from you.

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    2. Kim, I couldn't find your blog!

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