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My Cabbage Patch Kid

July 3, 2011

“If your children ask for bread, which of you would give them a stone?  Or if your children ask for a fish, would you give them a snake?  Even though you are bad, you know how to give good gifts to your children. How much more your heavenly Father will give good things to those who ask him!”  Matthew 7:9-11

I still remember when I got my first Cabbage Patch Kid Jenny. You should see the picture of me on Christmas Day with red haired pigtails holding my new cabbage patch kid that also had red haired pigtails. I was beaming! I can’t tell you what else I got for Christmas that year. I can’t even tell you what else I ever got for Christmas or a birthday as a child. (Sorry Mom and Dad. I know you gave me lots of other great gifts.) (Note to parents about spending a bunch of money on presents for kids every year.) I just remember how bad I wanted that Cabbage Patch Kid and how excited I was to get it. Maybe it’s because I had to wait so long to get it – or at least it felt like it at the time.

I certainly know kids don’t need everything they want, need to learn the values of waiting, of accepting no, of simplicity, of giving. But don’t you ever get your kids that one thing they really want? Just because they really really want it? Just to see the joy on their faces? Just because you are their parent and you love to bless them? Just because you want them to know you care about their interests and that a relationship with you is good?

Throughout this journey, I have often struggled with how I can be having a perfectly good day – feel content, feel happy with my life, feel thankful for all the blessings I have – then find out someone is pregnant and have a complete meltdown. It seems like no matter how much “progress” I make in this grief process, it’s the one thing that can send me in a downward spiral. It’s not that I’m not excited for them. I love for my friends to have kids. I love their kids. I’m so happy for them. I hate that I turn it around to focusing on myself and what I don’t have. I always feel so selfish, so guilty about my reaction. I know that God’s blessing to them and what he is doing in their life has nothing to do with what he is doing in my life. But it’s always a trigger, always so painful to see that God is creating a new life – and giving it to someone else – again.

Then one day a few months ago, I got this image that gave me more peace and understanding about my reaction. Here’s the scenario: I’m a little girl. I have the best daddy in the world. He gives wonderful gifts. I can’t wait to see him when he gets home. The reunion is joyful and sweet. I feel completely loved by him. He has my best interests at heart. He has always cared for me, and I feel safe with him. He knows me and knows my heart. And he knows that I really really want a baby doll. I’ve told him about it. I’ve asked him for one. I’ve seen other girls with really cute baby dolls. Pretty soon he brings home a baby doll and gives it to my sister. I’m ok with it at first, knowing he has me in mind and will probably bring me one soon. Maybe she asked first. And then he comes home with another baby doll and gives it to another sister. Surely the next one will be for me! And then he comes home with more baby dolls – for more of my sisters. And some of them already have baby dolls! or 2 or 3! And some of them didn’t even want a baby doll right then! And this keeps happening over and over again! He keeps bringing home the one thing I really really want and giving it to someone else. And he seems to have lots of them to give out at random. I get other gifts. I’m thankful for them, though I can’t really even focus on them as much because I really really want a baby doll.

And let’s remember that in this scenario, I’m a child. It’s going to hurt. It’s going to be hard for me to understand. I’m going to have an emotional reaction. I’m going to run to my room and cry. He can tell me that he has something better for me and to trust him. He can tell me that he loves me as much as my sisters. He can tell me that he has a really good plan for me and there is a reason he’s not giving me a baby doll. He can remind me that he has already given me so much. He can remind me that my life really isn’t about me and that he really doesn’t have to give me anything. I’m really so blessed just to be a part of his family and live in his safe house.

But have you ever tried to explain something like this to a child? Is a child going to understand why she got 2 stuffed dogs (although they are very cute) instead of a beautiful baby doll when a baby doll is what she really really wanted? Children – especially children in crisis – react very quickly with their emotions. It takes a while for them to settle down and see things in a reasonable manner. In order for them to take the next step toward growth and maturity, they first need some comfort and patience from a safe and understanding parent.

I know. I should be more mature. But I’m accepting that it’s ok if I’m just not there at times. My emotional reaction is not only because I’m still bratty and selfish at times, but also because I have a wonderful heavenly Father that I know gives really good gifts. It’s part of being in relationship with Him. I trust Him and know that He hears my prayers and loves me. I’m always going to be His child. Babies who don’t get their needs met stop crying. Children whose parents belittle their requests or never respond to requests stop asking. Maybe I have an emotional reaction because I have a healthy attachment in my relationship with God!

As long as I live, I’m often going to have childish reactions if I allow myself to have childlike faith. I’m always going to be growing in faith and maturity. I won’t ever be completely “there” in this lifetime. A child with childlike faith gets really excited about things, hopes without fear of pain, dreams big dreams, expresses desires boldly without holding back, asks for things with great expectations that a loving father will gladly respond. We adults know these big hopes can also be a set up for big disappointments, so we learn to lower our hopes and expectations along the way. But is the experience of hope and desire and great expectations something God only meant for children? I don’t think so. We will always be His children. He will always be our Father. He also wants us to grow up in our faith. Somewhere in this mystery of a relationship with Him, there is a perfect combination of childlike faith and spiritual maturity. Maybe spiritual maturity is childlike faith without the childish reactions.

I will grow. I’ve already grown so much. I will continue to grow. But there will be meltdowns along the way. It’s part of growing up. I wonder what ever happened to my Cabbage Patch Kid.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Kathy Frey permalink
    July 4, 2011 2:41 pm

    Ah…Carrie. It seems so simple in black and white. 🙂 Beautiful picture of our patient, comforting, understanding Father. It makes me want to know Him even better. Thank you so much for writing. I miss you.

  2. July 12, 2011 10:47 am

    Carrie, someone told me about your blog and I’m a huge fan. I too am cureently on this road called infertility. This post was exactly how I feel, but I could never write it out this well. Thanks for the reminder of having an eternal perspective. You are an awesome writer and I’m so thankful that you are shedding some light on this difficult journey.

  3. Roberta permalink
    July 14, 2011 9:52 pm

    You are a brave and insightful person. Your blog helps family members understand more about infertility and what it means to the person going through this journey.

  4. September 16, 2011 4:22 pm

    Wow! I have also been on this road, and I have begun reading your blog. So far, it has been a huge comfort. This post is exactly how I feel… I get so frustrated at myself for feeling and sometimes acting like a small hurting selfish child… I want to be better to be a more mature woman, but I am not there yet. Thank you for reminding me that its okay to be in process, its okay to expect the best from God, and its okay to be sad.
    God is doing a major work through you. Thank you for your strength!

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