Recently I was told that someone close to me had given birth to her firstborn. In many African cultures, there is a delay between the birth of a child and the announcement of its name. Often during the period, grandparents, siblings, aunties and uncles (even long lost family members) weigh in on the name of a child. It is then shared to extended family, and friends by way of a naming ceremony, celebrating the arrival of the newborn.
When I learned of the baby’s name, it ended up being one that I had liked from a very young age. Can I be honest? I have been planning baby names since I was 10 years old. First. Middle. You name it (literally). Growing up, and even in adulthood, I would spend many a moment imagining my future family. What they would look like, how they would sound. In my most distressed states, I would escape my present, and think of the life that I am trying to live for. Perhaps I should extend my therapy hours, but this should not come as a surprise for those who know me well. If you remember, I had also spotted my wedding venue at age 9. When we actually got married there 18 years later, I was quite convinced that I had an untapped prophetic gift. So in my head, this baby name was guaranteed.
When my husband and I were engaged, we discussed children. When he expressed that he felt the same way about the name I liked, it felt like it was confirmation of our union, and of their existence. During times of pregnancy, I would become even more fixated on these names. I was so sure of my future, and so sure of my timeline, I was just waiting for everything to unfold the way I had imagined. So when these pregnancies did not end in live births, the disappointment had a name attached.
Grieving is an ongoing process. I’m not sure if you ever stop grieving a loss, or if you just find new and creative ways to distract you from it. Just when you think you are “fine”, something happens to remind you a life is missing. I can honestly say that I was getting to a place where I thought I was ok with God’s timeline. I had begun rationalizing His timing, and even thought I understood what He was doing. Finish school. Focus on your business. Work on your relationships. Travel. Be busy while you wait. It’s the kind of crazy advice married people give singles. As if the next stage of life is the ultimate destination, and the current stage of life is merely preparation. It’s not.
And you will always find yourself longing for the future, missing the present, and regretting the past if you don’t genuinely enjoy the moment.
When the news of the birth was shared with me, I was thrilled for her and her husband. I have learned how to celebrate others, and I’m fully aware that another person’s blessing doesn’t change what God will do with your own. However. When I was later told the name of the baby - this new development - hit me like a truck. My heart sank. Suddenly decades of dreams came crashing down. I realized the name I was holding onto for all these years was not my child’s. I am not ashamed to say I was devastated in that moment.
Stay with me. The name is not the point.
There are a few lessons here. Not just for those who are in wait for children, but also for those who are in wait for marriage, “that” job, “the” house - whatever it is that you have visualized for yourself. Firstly, the moment you want your dream more than you want what God has for you, you’re in danger of being severely disappointed. It says in scripture “Hope deferred makes the heart sick.” You have to be mindful of what you are hoping for. Are you hoping for certain things more than you are hoping in God? I truly believe that sometimes we’re unhappy with what we have because we spend too much time focusing on the thing we’re hoping for. It’s not that we shouldn’t have hope at all - but how we position ourselves in seasons of hope matters deeply.
Secondly, I have found that sometimes God kills our timelines so that you realize He is in complete control of your life. Yes, it’s important to have goals, dreams, and plans, but ultimately you have to remember that God is able to do exceedingly and abundantly above all you can ask or think. Your highest thinking and wildest dream is a starting point for God. It is humanly impossible to perfectly plan your life. Sometimes, we’re actually not ready for things we think we’re ready for. Other times, we’re completely ready for the things we fear (and we just can’t see it yet).
Back to baby names. After the shock, disappointment, and realization - I found myself in a complete humbling moment. Finally, I gave this part of my life to the Lord. When the time comes (and I strongly believe it will), I will be prayerful about the name and the purpose of that child. I’m learning more and more that a child is not an accessory, nor a way to correct family wrongs, nor an excuse to get out of dealing with your husband, nor a way to get out of a real conversation. A child is not your friend, nor your rites of passage into adulthood, nor a box to be checked - but it is a living, breathing child of God, and you are merely a vessel. Likewise, marriage is not an accomplishment, but a way to make you a better person. It allows you to learn more about the reckless love of God, and understand the importance of sacrifice and service. Similarly, a job is not a grade, nor an emblem of self worth. It’s a platform to live out your ultimate purpose.
So maybe for a moment, forget timelines, don’t focus on baby names, and stop pinning wedding venues. Make a choice to enjoy what you have, and know that God has a plan for the things that aren’t here yet.