Having a baby, like going to prom, makes a girl into a princess for a very short period of time. In this small window where I'm still bleeding heavily (I'm talking about birth here and not prom, thank God) I can ask for pretty much anything I want without social repercussions. For example, right after I delivered Elijah I asked Dan to cook me an omelet, and then I asked him to feed it to me bite by bite. It was like that last scene in Clockwork Orange where the dude just opens him mouth demanding food like some kind of asshole fish.
Dan's omelet was perfect of course, but sometimes the more specific the thing you ask for the more likely you are to be disappointed. The night of Elijah's birth I asked someone to bring over Ibuprofen for my cramping. She brought a full bottel of Ibuprofen PM, an interdicted substance for anyone nursing or needing to wake up every hour with an infant. Similarly, yesterday I confessed that I needed another pair of newborn pyjamas. I soon found myself with 12 pairs of 3-month outfits that are twice the length of Elijah.
With each transaction there is a predictable series of emotions. First the rush of relief when someone says they will solve your problem, then the flood of gratitude when that person puts a newly minted plastic bag in your hand. Then the slow burn of frustration, anger, and shame. Frustration when you realize the thing isn't really going to solve your problem at all. Anger that you have to find another way to solve your problem. And shame that you've put your pride on the line by asking for something, that someone has put out love and effort trying to get you the thing, and that now it's all for naught. You have fruitlessly 'used up one of your wishes.'
Now, in all fairness, people who aren't nursing don't carry around medical encyclopedias in their heads. People without babies don't have a sense of how big they are, and they don't know that 0-3 is a totally different size from newborn for some ungodly reason. And pyjamas and over the counter medication can be procured from Amazon with free two day shipping. In the mean time there's laundry. There's an expired bottle of ibuprofen in the cabinet.
Is it worse when you don't get something you're asking for from God?
Our church is currently observing a season we call Leap of Faith where we put our pride on the line to ask God for something we really want. I blogged about my current hopes this season, and I am praying for various things for my friends. I want for them (respectively) that they would: find more sources of income, have more time for creative work, connect with their neighbors, or conceive a child.
These are things that either happen or they don't happen; You either do or you don't get pregnant. Just by asking you're either setting yourself up for relief and gratitude or frustration anger and shame.
With asking God for something there's a sense of risk. It can feel like a big thing in a any relationship to work up the courage to ask for something and then deal with the disappointment of not getting it.
Though we love baby Elijah (and we really really do), every single member of my family had prayed earnestly for a girl. How do you process that sort of disappointment?
Do you ask yourself (like I did following the Ibuprofen/onesie debacle):
Am I doing a bad job of communicating?
Is it possible to ask for a very specific thing and not be rude?
Does the specificity of a request damage a relationship because there's more opportunity for error?
Is asking for help even worth it? Am I better off taking care of everything myself?
In answering these questions, I find that my relationship with God is much more resilient than my relationships with people. I am quicker to forgive God when I don't get what I want. This may be because God gives me other things that I like, like my beautiful baby boy. Or because I trust that God knows what's best for me. Or because in the end he's God, the judge of the universe, and I don't really have any other choice.
Indeed, every time God doesn't come through for me, I see it as a chance to make our relationship stronger. I get to affirm (like it's some great sacrifice) my love and trust for him beyond my capacity for understanding.
With people I tend to be less forgiving. Which is probably unfair, since they're so much farther away from omnipotence.
This season I hope to be able to forgive, to love, to accept help, and to leave myself open to disappointment. Not just disappointment from the God who I love, but from people who I sort of love but sort of find annoying. I hope (within the bounds of socially accepted time frames) I can keep on asking and keep on receiving whatever I get.