My son has a pair of wine corks that he absolutely adores.
Really. He takes them everywhere – the grocery store, the car, even the potty.
They’ve become a part of him, and at this point, we’re used to the sight of his tiny fingers clasped around his most prized possessions.
There’s just one thing: he insists on sleeping with them. The problem here is that while he’s never been one to just put objects in his mouth, you can’t ever trust kids not to eat something. One of my lifelong fears has been that someday I wake up to see that my child had gotten hold of something too small while I was sleeping.
You’ve heard the stories. Tag blankets, stuffed animals. These things do happen, but try explaining that to an eighteen-month-old baby. He can’t for the life of him figure out just what exactly would be so terrible about him sleeping with his little security blankets.
So he screams. And screams and screams and screams. Some days we’re able to substitute those little bottles of acrylic paint (the lids sealed, of course) since they are a little safer size-wise.
But he’s a kid who knows what he wants. He needs those little corks like you and I need air. His little heart breaks every night around 7pm, and mine breaks too. Why do they always want the things they aren’t ready for?
Truthfully, I’ve been exactly where he is now.
Not with something as simple as wine corks, of course, but the situation is the same.
I discovered something that I thought I needed, and couldn’t possibly understand why God didn’t give it to me. What could go wrong? What would be the harm if I were to go ahead with this decision?
To date, I’ve had a grand total of two visions in my entire life.
One was when I came to Jesus.
The other wasn’t until years later when I was six months postpartum and crying in the shower.
I loved my baby. Truly I did. But postpartum depression stole more time from our little relationship than I’d ever care to admit. I felt useless. Lazy. Angry at myself for quitting a job that I loved. Hating myself for not being able to get out of bed some mornings.
I needed something.
Something to give me a little push to get out and be a productive member of society, whatever that means. (Spoiler alert: stay-at-home-moms are freaking amazing and are some of the most important building blocks of society. Mommin’ ain’t easy).
I began looking at job opportunities in the neighboring cities. Nothing really called out my name until about two weeks later when I found the perfect job. And when I say perfect, I mean everything I ever hoped for ever.
Part-time? Check. At only a few hours a week, it would get me out of the house but wouldn’t take that much time away from my duties at home.
Working with kids? Check. Growing up with eight siblings I was born for this.
Sports? Check!! While I was never good at any sport I tried my hand at, I still had a blast. And boy, did I try everything.
This job was right up my alley.
I polished up my resume, wrote a gleaming cover letter, and with a deep breath, hit send. Then I waited. I knew it wouldn’t be long before I got a call asking “when can you start?!” I was confident that I was the applicant with the most experience, so it was only a matter of time before they came begging for me, right?
So I waited. And waited. Y’all, I was so excited about this job. Checking my email every thirty minutes, always keeping my phone on. For the first time in months, I saw a future where postpartum depression didn’t hold me back.
They never called.
Weeks after I applied, a notification popped up: this position has been filled.
Cue ugly crying in the shower.
I’m not sure why I was so gung-ho about this.
It wasn’t a financial matter – my husband has an incredible job that more than covers our needs. It wasn’t a desperate attempt to get away from my son either. He was a pretty chill kid at that point, so I didn’t feel the need for a “break.”
I just thought this was going to be it.
A position for me to do what I love with people that I love. A job to get me out of my own head and away from my crippling mental health. This was going to be my lifeboat.
As I sat in the shower I asked God why he didn’t let me have this. I asked what reason could he possibly have for taking something like this away from me? (Like it was ever mine to begin with – ha!)
I closed my eyes and let the warm water wash over me.
When they opened, I was in the middle of an ocean. All of my friends were in their respective lifeboats around me, calm and collected as they rocked in the waves.
Then there was me, struggling to stay afloat, paddling my tired legs as best I could. I swam from one boat to the other, trying my darndest to climb aboard, but just couldn’t will myself over. No matter what I did, I always fell back into that wretched, churning water.
God was there too.
“Find me a boat! Help me!” I cried.
He lowered himself to my level. His words were kind but stern. “You aren’t meant to be here. You were so stubborn to follow your own path that you went and dropped yourself somewhere that you are in no way prepared to be.” He gestured to the lifeboats around us. “They are on a different path. They are safe because they are on the course I’ve mapped out for them. That doesn’t look the same for everyone.”
I opened my eyes and found myself back in the shower. Shocked, I stood and turned the water off. Wrapped in a towel, I walked to the bedroom and plopped onto the bed, taking everything in. Did that really just happen?! I thought I was crazy. Immediately, I texted my mom what happened. Someone had to hear about this.
Looking back, I see now why I wasn’t chosen for the job. The time that followed was filled with trials that we didn’t anticipate, and I truly believe that taking that job (whether I knew it or not) would’ve been the downward spiral of our marriage, among other things. I was needed at home, and I am so thankful to the Lord that he protected us from that.
All of that to say this: when God says no, I truly believe it is for our protection. Even if it isn’t something as dramatic as saving a marriage, letting go of whatever dream or victory we’re waiting on is worth the knowledge that He knows what could happen if we continue on a certain path.
I know what you’re thinking: “Tiff, that’s something so silly. That was only a job that you didn’t even need.”
I hear you. That may not be the most stunning or heart-wrenching example, but know this: God has told us no for very hard things.
He told us no when our triplets lost their heartbeats last December.
He told us no when my brother continued his lifestyle of drugs and alcohol after years of rehab, prison, and sleepless nights crying out on our knees.
I know what it is to pray for something so earnestly that you feel like you can’t handle another word. I know what it is to have my world crushed into pieces after I was so sure that God would fix it.
I still get angry sometimes. I won’t lie about that. But even now I see more and more opportunities where God has turned our broken spirits into joy.
I see how He has worked the worst days of our lives into something good further on.
I hope that you start to look, and once you do, I hope you see it too.