I got pregnant with my first born when I was barely twenty years old. She is now coming up on her 21st birthday this spring and is older than I was when I got pregnant with her. We were chatting the other day about adult life and how different things are when you’re on your own - as she has recently moved into her own place and has a full time job and does all of that “adulting” kind of thing now. She is far from wanting to become a mother, which relieves me. I want her to enjoy her twenties and have the freedom to do some of the things that I was “UNregrettably” unable to do.
She asked me: “What made you think you could do it? You know, raise a child?”
My answer: “I didn’t. I didn’t think I could do it. But the alternative was not an option for me. I knew I’d have to figure it out as I went.”
As any parent of any age will tell you - you’re never prepared for parenthood. Raising a child is something we only learn to do by doing and even in that, it’s all trial and error and laughter and tears and praying to God we get it right.
How often in life do we find ourselves in situations that we feel unprepared for, lacking the required skill-set, the finances, and all the other means to get the job done? If you’re like me, more times than you can count. Every time we experience growth in our lives it’s because we got put in a situation that was uncomfortable, that required us to stretch ourselves mentally, emotionally, physically.
At the age of twenty, I experienced my first “really big” situation of being more than uncomfortable, downright scared to death but knowing that I had to find it within myself to figure out how to make it work. It seemed like the birth of my daughter was the first of many scary, get-ready-to grow situations. After awhile, you learn that these are the kinds of situations that, if you embrace them, will leave you better off than they found you.
But to be totally honest, I can’t say that I always have that mentality with the first sign of an impending new situation that looks awfully uncomfortable and pretty scary. I wish I could tell you that every time I encounter one of these situations I say “bring it on!” right at the onset but that’s typically not what happens.
First is the fear. The fear of the unknown. The fear of being incapable and unqualified. The fear that whatever it is I’m facing is so much bigger than me and there’s no way I can handle it. And the truth is, I can’t. Not on my own. Not without God’s help and the people he places in my life. Then there’s the doubt - usually it sounds something like me asking God what he was thinking and letting him know he got the wrong girl. I have learned that God knows what he’s doing and if there’s a scary situation that he’s put me in, there’s a reason for it. I don’t even try to negotiate with him about it anymore. It never works anyway.
After allowing myself to feel the fear and doubt, I pull up my big girl pants and get ready to be uncomfortable for awhile. Most of the time in these situations we don’t know what we’re doing and we feel really inadequate but you know what? That’s okay, that’s the way we are supposed to feel. If we could do it by ourselves we wouldn’t need God and we wouldn’t need the people he sends to help us. We are not designed to be self-sufficient. Knowing this has helped me to accept my inadequacies and short comings. We don’t have to have it all figured out. In fact, we’re not supposed to have it all figured out.
A new year is guaranteed to bring new and likely, scary situations into our lives that feel way too big for us to handle. But that’s the idea. That’s life. That’s growth. Embrace the fear and the doubt and then believe that God will equip you with everything you need for whatever situation he brings your way.