Surrendering Dreams

When I got married, like most people, I had a lot of dreams about what my life would look like. In many ways my expectations went beyond just dreams; they were plans. Like many of life’s plans, mine have not worked out. 

For one, I cannot have any more biological children. I’ve grieved this reality for a long time. My six-year-old son, Arthur William, is all I have. I try to cherish my time with him because he’s the only biological child I’ll ever have. I’ve struggled greatly with separation anxiety with him. We were separated for three weeks after he was born because I was critically ill in the hospital and I still grieve that lost time. I wrestle regularly with the thought of him dying even though there’s no real reason for me to worry. A little girl in his Sunday school class recently passed away very unexpectedly. Losing my child is my worst nightmare and that event has hit me really hard. What if I lose my only child?

As the grandfather of the little girl who passed away put it, our children are just on loan to us from the Lord. Ultimately they are his children. The reality is, I might have to give him back to God for a time. There’s a real chance he might go to heaven before me.

Then there’s the idea of adoption. It seems perfect for our family since my husband and I have always wanted to anyway, and now it’s our only option for growing our family. But the more I pray about it, the more God says, “No.” I understand why. I honestly can’t see how we could fit the process of adopting into our current life, much less another child to care for. As much as I want to adopt, our circumstances have just made adoption unrealistic. 

So now, here I am. A woman with one child and room in her heart for so many more. I’ve been storing away baby clothes, supplies, furniture and toys in my son’s room and the garage as he’s grown out of them, planning on using them for our next baby. They are a constant reminder of what’s missing. I’ve been fighting with the thought of clearing it all out. What if it’s time to let it go? Just writing that sentence brings me to tears.

I’ve been slowly surrendering my plans to God. The more I struggle against God’s plans, the more miserable I am. The more miserable I am because my plans aren’t working out, the further I grow from God. That’s not what I want for my life. I want to be close to God; to be fully surrendered to him.

One of the biggest dreams I’ve had for my life is a house filled with children. I hoped for two biological babies, two adopted babies, and maybe as they grew older we would adopt some older kids or teenagers. God has made it very clear that those plans are not his plans for me. It’s been a devastating reality for me. I need to not only surrender my plans for more children, but I need to surrender my only living child to God. 

My dreams simply aren’t God’s plans.

How to Surrender

I honestly don’t know how to surrender, though I am attempting to put this into practice. But I do know what God’s Word says. Surrender is a heart process of letting go of the hurtful past so God can make room for the blessings to come.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,

    and do not lean on your own understanding.

In all your ways acknowledge him,

    and he will make straight your paths.

Be not wise in your own eyes;

    fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.

It will be healing to your flesh

    and refreshment to your bones.

Proverbs 3:5-8 (ESV)

The first two verses of this passage are quoted often. They are framed and displayed in homes. They are commonly memorized. Trust in God’s plans, not your own, and life will be good. However, I believe the next two verses are just as important. 

“Be not wise in your own eyes.” How can I surrender to God’s plan for my life if I think I know better than him? Remembering, after all, that he is God and his heart is towards blessing my life.

“Fear the Lord.” Humble yourself before God because he is all-knowing, all-powerful, and ever-present. I am insignificant compared to him. His understanding is far greater than mine. He is my Father and I am his child.

“It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.” What’s “it”? “It” is my surrender to God’s plan. Surrendering to God’s plan is spiritual health and freedom. “It” is life giving.

What to Surrender

The answer to this question is both the same for everyone and yet also different for everyone. 

First and foremost, we all must surrender our lives to Christ. There is not much point in living otherwise because Jesus is life and a life without him is a life doomed to death. Death is the first obstacle to surrender. When we surrender ourselves to God by repenting of our sins and receiving his free gift of salvation, we defeat death and receive life.

We also need to surrender anything that’s keeping us from a closer relationship with Jesus. By holding onto my desire for more children, I have questioned God’s goodness for my life. Not receiving this particular blessing has dragged me down continually. By surrendering my desire for more children to God, and rejoicing with him over the prayers he’s said “Yes” to, a burden lifts from my shoulders. My desire to know God and follow his plan needs to be stronger than my desire for the gifts he might give me. 

What desire are you holding onto that is stronger than your desire for God? What would it look like for you to surrender to him?