I make a really, really good chocolate cake. I’m not bragging; it’s just that good. I made one last night and frosted it with chocolate sour cream frosting (oh, so rich, but oh, so good) and Matt and I pretty much devoured two huge slices with glasses of milk in about two minutes. Sometimes, I’m just not sure life could get better than my cute husband and chocolate cake.
Today, though, as I was talking with a friend before service, she asked me what God has been teaching me lately. And, to be quite honest, I didn’t have an answer at the ready. There has been a lot going on in my heart and much that I have been mulling over since the IF:Gathering and with this surprise pregnancy, and I believe wholeheartedly that the Lord has been a huge part of all of those things and has been using them to speak to me, but it was challenging to put into words.
Since finding out last fall that I am pregnant again, I have gone through what I can only describe as a grieving process. My first reaction to seeing that positive test result was an avalanche of tears and crying out to God with, “This is not what I want. I can’t be pregnant again. I can’t do this again.” Four babies in five years has been a roller coaster with amazing highs, but to be perfectly frank, some really deep lows with the challenges that come with having so many small people in that short amount of time. I spent the first few weeks alternately crying and avoiding the presence of a new baby even as I was coping with the worst case of morning sickness I have ever experienced. Bursting into tears at the derailment of my plans and what I thought was the direction God was taking our family. Putting up a wall so thick inside me that it only started crumbling two weeks ago, 5 1/2 months into this pregnancy.
I had begun reading Jennie Allen’s ‘Anything’ long before I found out I am pregnant, and the words she wrote and shared resonated deep within my spirit. I realized that I was in a season of wanting to say yes to anything, anything, God had for me. Anything He wanted me to do, anywhere He wanted me to go, anything He wanted me to say, yes, I was His girl.
And then it dawned on me one night before bed, as I was crying to Matt about my fears that five children six and under will be the death of me and that I won’t have the emotional capacity to love and care for each of them fully any longer that this is my anything. This IS what God is saying, “Erin, will you follow me? Will you trust that I AM in control? Because you’re right. YOU can’t do this. You never could. But I can. And I will. I already have. Will you say yes to this anything I have for you?”
I realize it sounds incredibly callous and cold to talk about grieving over something that is a miracle and joyous. But it really put me through the wringer and I know God has used it to show me deep in my secret places where I still need to surrender and release to Him.
Then came the IF:Gathering. Whew. I still can’t fully put into words what God did in my heart through that weekend. If last year’s inaugural gathering wrecked me, this year’s lifted me off my face and planted me right at the front of the crossfire. There were so many amazing moments and such truth spoken that I can’t pinpoint any one highlight as the apex for me (although, Christine Caine….every time I listen to you speak and preach it’s like a slap in the face and I want to ask you for another. You are a force for truth and Jesus with which to be reckoned. You too, Jen Hatmaker. Oh, and Rebekah Lyons. And Jennie. Oh, let’s just say everyone. Sheesh.), but I remember coming away from it with a clear sense of God saying that just because what I thought He was bringing me into prior to this pregnancy (a broader scope of ministry, more time to invest in people and love them) isn’t happening yet, what He is bringing me into is just as vital. And to keep persevering. Be persistent in loving the people around me. Be persistent in leaning hard into Jesus when the days are long and the minutes longer. Be persistent in having the hard conversations with Matt about where we are and where we want to be and where we see disconnect between us and our joint walk with Christ. Be persistent in loving my little people when the last thing I want to do is clean up for the umpteenth time. And no, it may not be grand, and it may go unseen much of the time by those with human eyes, but it does NOT go unseen or unnoticed by the One who matters most.
What does that have to do with chocolate cake? Besides that I really just wanted to tell you that I made a chocolate cake and that it’s delicious, I think what it has to do with this post is that I think I now have an answer for my friend. That God is teaching me that what He has for me may be hard, it may be messy, it may not be glamorous….but it is by far more satisfying, more filling, and more delicious than the best of treats. His way is sweeter, and when it tastes bitter in my mouth, I can cling to the truth that He knows what He is about.
Blessings and love,