Congratulations: “an expression of joy in the success or good fortune of another.”
Last Friday I posted a blog post about our story and how we are still waiting for baby number 3. Within the hour, I had a notification from a friend pop up on my screen that said, “Congrats Jillian.” I immediately panicked, wondering if I had mistyped something in my blog and given the impression that I was pregnant. I followed the notification to Facebook where I was sure I would need to explain. Instead, I was taken to a post by Steensma Lawn and Power and on it were written the words, “Congratulations Jillian Heerlyn!! You have won…”
I absolutely could not believe my eyes! We have all received the personalized junk mail that makes you feel for a brief second that you may have actually won something or Ed McMahon might show up at your door with a million dollars. They say those same words, “Congratulations (your name here)! You have won…” When I receive those in the mail, I immediately beginning scanning for the fine print because 99.99% of me knows it’s a scam or a gimmick, but there is still .01% of me that hopes that I may have won something.
I have never won anything in my life. When I was about 9 years old, the local grocery store was holding a prize drawing and all you had to do was enter your name and you could win. The grand prize was a TV. I happened to have a friend over the day we decided to go down and enter, so my friend entered, too. She won the TV!!! As you can imagine, my 9 year old self struggled a little bit with jealousy. I also could not believe I knew the person who had won it!! I felt like I knew a celebrity.
I have entered many contests since and have learned from experience to not get my hopes up. After a few contests, you learn that winning really is a needle in a haystack. I still sometimes enter contests, but I no longer hold my breathe that I will actually win.
Last Friday, I won a contest, and I did not even know I was entered. There was no time of waiting to see if I had won. There was no effort on my part (other than hitting the “like” button months ago in support of a good friend). There was no calling a number or checking a website. I literally did not do a thing. I would not have even known I won had my friend not said “congrats.”
Some would call this “lucky.” I call it grace. I did nothing to earn or deserve this extravagant gift. There is a God in heaven who knows my deepest thoughts and knows that years ago we had loaned our new blower to a friend and it had inexplicably stopped working while they had it. We have not had a blower since. There have been countless times over the years (especially with a horse barn) that I have wished we had a blower as I sweep the same spot over and over again trying to get the hay or dirt clean from the barn/garage/front porch, etc. God has seen me sweeping and more importantly, he has known every thought over the years as I have wished I had a blower. Last Friday he gave me a gift.
I love to give gifts, and I try to give good, well-thought-out gifts. Some gifts are practical and others simply say, “I know you.” God gave me both with the blower. The result: I felt loved.
“If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11).
I did not come out and ask for a blower. “for your Father knows what you need before you ask him” (Matthew 6:8).
Because I did not ask for it, I was in a better place to receive it as a gift rather than something I expected (which can lead to feeling like we deserve it). It is a balancing act. God wants us to ask, AND he wants us to sometimes be silent and just trust.
Faith tells us to be sure of what we hope for (Hebrews 11:1). Again, I am reminded that we were not created to hope for material things. We were created to have a hope that is firmly rooted in God.
When it comes to pregnancy, I realized the other day that when we were trying to get pregnant with Joshua (our 2nd), I did a lot of asking (more like begging). As a result, I was not in a good place. I was depressed a lot. By asking so often, I was keeping the desire on the forefront of my mind and setting myself up for constant disappointment. I was pressing in to God, not for the sake of being with God, but for the sake of receiving something from him.
“Then you will know that I am the Lord; those who hope in me will not be disappointed” (Isaiah 49:23).
This time of desiring a child has been dramatically different. The other day, I was sharing my struggling heart with God and it occurred to me that I may not have even asked him for a 3rd child. So I told him, “Just to be thorough, will you give us another child?” I imagined God smiling at me like I smile at my children when they say something innocently funny.
As I type this out, I have three picture frames above my computer. In each picture, one of my kids is holding a letter from the word “joy.” Joshua is holding the “J.” Alliyah is holding the “Y,” and they are holding the “O” together. When I put this together, I imagined another little life eventually taking the place of holding the “O.”
Congratulations: “an expression of JOY in the success or good fortune of another.” The Lord knows that I have had countless opportunities to express joy on behalf of another’s good fortune as they announce their pregnancy. Having genuine joy when everything in you wants to be jealous is a gift only God can give. He gives us the grace to have genuine joy for another, but we have to choose to receive that grace from him.
This past month was a testimony to a good work that God has done in me. (I take no credit for it.) Todd and I figured that last month was our last month of trying fertility medicine. Since we cannot afford to go forward with treatment, we were at the end of the road with medicine. When we found out we were not pregnant, I was the most disappointed that I had been for a while. Shortly after, I had the opportunity to celebrate with a dear friend at her baby shower.
Being at a baby shower is one of the last places you want to be if you are disappointed from not being pregnant. By the grace of God, of all the baby showers I have ever been to (which usually occur while I’m on my period), this was the easiest one to go to without a lick of jealousy. My dear friend is 46 and finally pregnant with her first child after years of trying. When I say “Congratulations” to her, I say it without even a hint of jealousy. I want that to be the case in every instance that I have to offer my “congratulations” to someone else – whether it is for pregnancy or another celebration.
I still hold out hope that one day I will receive “Congratulations,” because we are pregnant. In the mean time, I wait in the balance between having faith that it will happen while planting deeper roots of hope in the goodness of God. I pray that the Lord will fill me more and more with his love, that I may be 100% genuine whenever I offer congratulations to anyone.