On Your Eighteenth Birthday
When I think back to the day you were born, I can see how God was orchestrating our story from the very beginning. You were hoped for and loved long before you came to be, a fulfillment of deep longings and desires in my heart. God used that time in my life to slowly peel back my fingers from the grip of control I thought I needed to have on my life. I thought I would have three kids, two years apart, the perfect family.
Miscarriage. Partial Molar Pregnancy. Uncertainty about ever having children. Those words were NOT part of my plan. But they became part of my story anyway and as a result, you were a beautiful gift after a season of loss.
I didn’t dare hope with a due date of May 9th that you would come in April. It was a secret longing of my heart-to have an April baby- one that only our Father knew. When I went to bed on April 29, 2003, I thought it would be a typical night of pregnancy, but you made it clear that you were ready to come. Later it seemed like you changed your mind. We pushed against each other for three hours both of us determined to get our way. I discovered in those long, excruciating hours that I had a strength in me I didn’t know existed. A strength that I would need to handle your strong will. I believe that God knew you needed me. But He also knew that I needed YOU!
Here we are eighteen years later and we still push against each other. You’re grasping at independence while I’m desperately trying to let go. You’re figuring out how to be an adult and I’m trying to understand how to parent an adult. It’s messy at times and painful. I say things I regret. You feel like you can never please me.
Yet here’s what I know for sure- every season of difficulty we have ever faced has birthed a deeper, stronger, more exquisitely beautiful relationship between us. I am amazed that you love me like you do. And I am overwhelmed with pride when I see you succeed, knowing how hard you have fought to get there.
I still try to control all the things, don’t I? It always comes from a place of wanting what is best for you, but I forget that while I get to influence your story, I don’t get to write it. I’m so grateful that you have committed your life to the One who writes the best stories, the One who takes our brokenness and turns it into beauty. All of our chapters seem to be variations on that theme! God brings us to a place of brokenness, so that we will know to our core that there is nothing we can do apart from Him. And then He sweetly and lovingly restores, bringing us back to a place of beauty, stronger than what we could have ever been on our own.
If there is one thing I could tell you on this momentous day, your eighteenth birthday, it would be to remember this truth. Your failures and your mistakes are interwoven into your story for a purpose. They will cause you to appreciate the wonder and the beauty God is preparing for you in deeper and better ways than you could have ever imagined.
After you were born, I spent the next twenty four hours hooked up to an IV, unable to get out of bed. Dad changed every diaper, learned how to swaddle you, held you close when I was too weary to even lift my arms. I felt like my very first day of motherhood was a failure. Then. Now I know that it was the biggest success story ever. Because understanding my weaknesses and being poignantly aware of my inadequacies, taught me to relinquish control and to understand that you would need others to love you, support you and be there for you. It’s the lesson I need to be reminded of as you prepare to launch.
I will always be here for you, Lindsay! I will be your biggest cheerleader. I will cry the ugly tears when you sing or write or show love to others in the achingly beautiful way you do. But I will never be enough to meet all of your needs. I will continue to fail. But I can entrust you to our great God who will never let you down. What a comfort this is to me! He is worthy of our trust, so continue to walk forward confidently, holding fast to Him!
I love you, Lindsay Elise! Happy 18th birthday!