I have never been a huge fan of sugary things. Pie or cake? Nah. Chocolate? Meh. With the exception of gummi bears, I can pretty much take it or leave it. But I have learned that I can’t live without a certain kind of sweet.
One morning after I had spoken at a women’s event, a young woman came up to me at my CD table. She introduced herself and said she had a question for me after hearing my story.
“You seem so content that you never got to be a mom”, she said. And then asked “Are you content?”
I had to stop for a second and think. Was I indeed… content?
Here’s the thing: I had always wanted to be a mom. From as far back as I could remember I wanted it more than anything.
I had been a focused businesswoman up through my forties and hadn’t married until I was 41. And with a new husband 11 years my senior, it became clear to me that having a child together was not the right path for us. So although my dream of finding my lifelong partner was exceeded beyond my wildest dreams, the dream of ever having a child… died.
I’m not going to lie. Waiting all those years to find God’s man for me was tough but this… this was a bitter pill to swallow.
But 14 years ago, disguised as a personal crisis, God gave me a shot at a “do over”. Doggone it if He didn’t let me start my life all over again when He gave me the chance to get out of myself, grow up and grow deep with Him, and I grabbed it with gusto. He began maturing me in all areas of my life, showing me in spades that He had my back and wanted me to experience all that life had to offer. I dug deep into His Word to learn more what that meant and realized one day that I had given in, had completely accepted what He had for me, and had developed a desire to want what He wanted for my life.
It just didn’t appear that having a child was going to be one of those things.
But here’s the thing. Over time, I began to realize that accepting life on life’s terms left a sweet taste in my mouth… and besides, I learned there are a lot of other ways to be a real mom. Here are a few I’ve found:
When I married Wolf, an extraordinary stepdaughter came with the deal who I couldn’t love any more than if I’d given birth to her myself. (Mariah often jokes that it’s a darned good thing I didn’t because if I had, she might’ve gotten my thin hair!)
Wolf and I host young people in our home from all over the world who come here to study English. In the time they are with us, we are given entrance into their hearts and thoughts as we pour into them, striving to provide as full a cultural, family, and spiritual experience as possible. Some of the richest times we’ve had in the last few years have been with these kids and I wouldn’t trade the experience of being “Mama Sillye” for anything.
For 13 years, I’ve gotten to be a “co-mom” with moms all over the third world who are unable to take care of their children on their own. As a result of events at which I and my partner Billye have spoken, over 5,000 moms have fewer worries about their kids’ futures because American “moms” have sponsored their child*. The mother of a child I sponsor in Africa humbled me to my bones when she thanked me for helping her raise her children. Me??
Up until very recently, I had the honor of hosting a group of young women in my living room every Tuesday night for five years who still call me their “BFF spiritual mom”. Each week, I got to guide them through God’s Word where I wanted them to see how sweet their life could be if they could just develop a taste to want what He wants. We went through breakups, marriages, cancer, pregnancy, and job woes and they began to see that peace is possible, regardless of our circumstances.
You can’t tell me I haven’t been able to be a mom.
So when that young woman asked me that day if I was content, I had to be honest when I said I was not. But what I could tell her was that, in all honestly, I was in full agreement with God on His choice for my life. Today, I get it. Today I see why He withheld this “dream” of mine and I joyfully accept and embrace the extraordinary life He has given me in exchange.
When life turns out differently than the stuff of our dreams, we have a choice. We can get bitter, wasting months and years pining for what we didn’t get, or we can begin to recognize there are just simply things we won’t understand on this earth and accept what comes our way, relishing what we DO have.
And with that, taste the delectable calm that accompanies the sweetness of acceptance.
With all your heart trust the Lord and not your own judgment. Always let Him lead you, and He will clear the road for you to follow. Proverbs 3:5-6 CEV
Sylvia Lange is a Christian women’s speaker living in Southern California.