Monday, November 23, 2009

Castles in the Air

"In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps." Proverbs 16:9

I'm the kind of person who likes to look before I leap, so to speak. I like to know what I'm getting into. I don't really like doing something if I haven't investigated it first and if I don't have a general idea how it's going to go.

Even in the case of something fairly small, like trying a new restaurant, I feel pretty overwhelmed if I don't know what to do ahead of time. If I know someone else has been to that restaurant before, I usually call them and ask very specific questions about the place. I want to know what the atmosphere is like so I'll be dressed appropriately, what kind of food will be served, and whether I'll have to order up front at the counter or at the table with a menu. For me, one of the most stressful situations in the world is being somewhere and not knowing what to do or what will happen next.

You can imagine how helpless this life with infertility makes me feel. Talk about not knowing what will happen! There are a lot of unexpected twists and turns, and there is an enormous amount of uncertainty. Will I get pregnant this month? Next month? If I do, what will happen next? Another miscarriage? How would I handle another loss? Will we have a baby a year from now? Five years from now? Never? Will we adopt? Unfortunately, I can't call anyone ahead of time and find out exactly what will happen step by step!

One of my biggest challenges is making plans, and letting go of them is even harder. I married my husband at a young age. Sure, we had ideas and plans about the future -- what we thought would happen and what we hoped would happen. I had dreams of building our family while I was young, and having my children in my twenties. I envisioned my children growing up with my sister's children. I imagined family portraits of all of my mom's grandchildren together, separated in age by only a few years. After we bought our first home, I pictured our children growing up under this roof and all the memories we would make here as a young family. But infertility has changed all of that.

Even now as I write those words, I know that in my heart I haven't let go of all of those plans just yet. Some of them have been put on hold for a long time while others have been put to rest. I still dream of watching my children grow up in our home, but I know that I'll never be a twenty-something-year-old mom. And I know that if we do have children someday, my sister's boys will be much older than their cousins.

I certainly realize that these may someday seem like small sacrifices in the grand scheme of things. We would be thrilled to become parents even under different circumstances than the ones we'd imagined. Adapting to changes and making new plans are simply a part of life. Still, it's hard letting go of them, my "castles in the air," even though I know that life rarely turns out exactly how anyone plans.

Several weeks ago I finished reading the classic Louisa May Alcott novel, Little Women. I absolutely loved every second of it. It was my first time reading the book, although the movie has long been one of my favorites. In one of the many memorable scenes early in the book, the March sisters and their dear friend and neighbor Laurie spend an afternoon daydreaming about the future. In the chapter titled "Castles in the Air," the characters (who are teenagers at the time) reveal their loftiest lifelong dreams. Each one has a plan for where they'd like to be in the future. Besides Beth, who is humble and meek and wise beyond her years, everyone dreams of being rich and famous: Laurie a famous musician, Meg the mistress of a luxurious home, Jo a successful writer, and Amy a world-renowned artist.

"'Wouldn't it be fun if all the castles in the air which we make could come true, and we could live in them?' said Jo, after a little pause."

The great thing about being the reader is that we get to see exactly what the future holds in just a few hundred pages. Even in the book, no one's life goes exactly according to his or her plan, although some get closer than others.

I don't think that it's a bad idea to have big dreams, goals, and plans. And I don't think it's bad at all to pursue them and to hope that they'll come true. But I do think it's important to not get carried away with our "castles." Many times I feel totally crushed by the weight of all of the unknowns in my future. I've felt like I'm just spinning my wheels, staying in one place while others move forward. Sometimes it's overwhelming to think that people around me are seeing their plans and dreams fulfilled with each passing year. Sometimes I begin to panic. I get so focused on the big picture that I forget to enjoy what is happening around me today.

When I let myself, I realize that there are little detours along the way that I don't want to miss. Sometimes when we have to wait a very long time or accept a change of plans, we might just get to do things we never thought we'd ever be able to do. And we might find ourselves very thankful for that.

I'm planning to keep my castles in the air. But I reserve the right to rebuild them as I go, because sometimes God may have other plans.


Noelle said...

Wow. What a wonderful post. Thank you for writing it. It really spoke to me. It pains me as well to see people having their dreams realized, and I feel like I have been left behind.

It is so ironic because I just wrote a post about the topic of planning, and what a planner I am. It has unfortunately not served me well though, as all of my planning has resulted in me waiting too long to have kids. I tried to wait until everything was "perfect," but perfect never happened for me.

I love what you have to say about changing plans and finding even better things.

Jenn said...

I think the "castles in the air" are sometimes different than what we plan for them to be. God has castles for all of us but our castles don't always look like HIS castle!

Chuck said...

Thanks for the reminder Stace. I've thought about that verse a lot throughout our IF. It is very difficult to accept the things that we cannot change sometimes, but I just have to hope that the Lord has a bigger plan.

Connie said...

You know, I remember how much we loved and adored Tony, who was much older than us. I have a feeling things will be very similar with my boys and your babies. A and N will adore those babies. They will protect them. They will cherish them. We've all waited a long time to have them in our lives and no matter when they arrive, we will know that it was perfect timing.

I adore you, Stace. This is such a beautiful post. Please don't stop dreaming. I want my enormous puffy castle right next to yours!

Andi said...

Love your writings as much as always, but I especially like that second to last paragraph. Good perspective!

just me, dawn said...

i love this post. your dreams may shift, but they will bring you happiness....that is the best thing about our dreams.

Sunny said...

It's that time of year again. We're still dreaming the same dreams of children. I have found myself VERY worn out lately. Almost, can I keep going worn out. Every day that passes, it's one more day to trust God for the future, but it's also one more day that I struggle TO trust God. It's not easy and it certainly doesn't come natural.

I'm glad to hear that you are keeping your castles in the air. Sometimes, I'm ready to bury mine.

Rebekah said...

This is really beautiful. Ben and I married at 20 and now 28 I look back over the years, in awe of what God has done. If you had asked me what my life would look like at 28, then, I would never have said [this].

None of our plans worked out the way we saw fit. No little (or big) girl ever thinks that she WON'T be able to make babies. The thought never crossed my mind.

But, today, when I stare into the loving eyes of my sweet Tyrus Lee, I know God saved a piece of greatness just for me. I would never have dreamed this. But it's good. Really really good.

Hold on...

Kathryn said...

I've been away from blogging for a few days & look at what i've missed! A chance at Ree's book. Ah, well, i don't use cookbooks all that often. How sweet of you to give it.

It is strange what we think of our lives at a young age vs. what really happens. I think how we handle those side tracks that become our life are a sign of character & helping to form us into the person God would have us be. But it is hard!

I understand that watching others' children grow. My husband's nephew & cousins children are all 4 & 5 now. (Our Kaylee would be 3-1/2.) I find holidays difficult seeing the children that would be her companions. And that even if a miracle happened & we had a child, that child would be so much younger than cousins.

I do pray that God helps you to build a family to populate those dream castles, living epistles, reality behind the dream. I can't say what i'm trying, it is coming gibberish. God bless you & your hubby.

Alicia said...

Great post! The unknown in infertility is so hard to deal with. You just can't plan anything so you do feel like your spinning your wheels.

God bless you and I hope that your rebuilt and shelved dreams come to be. You would be a wonderful mother :)

Life In Mazes said...

Always shoot for the moon, if you miss at least you will land amongst the stars.

That is what came to mind when reading this post.

Happy Thanksgiving :)

~ Katie ~ said...

I seriously think you have a telepathic link to my brain :) Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.


twondra said...

Awesome post Stacey! As always, it seems like you read my mind and put my thoughts onto paper. You're amazing.

Thanks for sharing.

And thanks for your support on my blog. I'll take a hug from you anytime. :)

Love ya!

Journeymark Cards & Gifts said...

Stacey, thank you for being a voice for so many women who feel and connect with you in the same way. This post is not only inspiring, but a reminder for the great plans God has in store for us. We are His treasures, and for that, I am so grateful. I will keep dreaming for my "castles in the air", no matter how differently it turns out from my original dreams.

beth ewing said...

what a great post. i'm still struggling to let go of my plans...4-5 kids by age no more than 2 years apart...etc. so this really spoke to my heart.

Char said...

Just found your blog recently, and I really appreciated this post. This week, I have had to let go of one of my castles in the air, and it is difficult. But, I trust that no matter what castles I lose, God knows what is best for me.