45 - Surrendering Our Plans To Gods - Laura O
May 4, 2022
Mentioned in this episode -
Laura: Well, hi, Laura, and welcome To unsung stories. Thanks so much for joining us.
Laura O: You're welcome
Laura: to say that our listeners can get to know you a little bit more. Could you tell us about yourself and what your family life looks like
Laura O: Sure. , my name's also Laura. I live on the central coast of new south Wales with my husband and our two little boys who are aged four and almost two. So during the week, I worked two days as a clinical psychologist and I spend the rest of my week at home with the boys.
Laura: that's awesome. So I've had the privilege of hearing a fair bit of your story and just the challenges that you faced over the last few years. Would you mind just jumping straight in and sharing a bit of an overview of what it's all looked like?
Laura O: We had actually hoped to start a family back in 2012. So at that stage for our lives, we'd moved to the central coast. We'd bought a house and settled into a new church and we were young and healthy and didn't expect to have any issues with starting a family. However, I didn't fall pregnant quickly or easily. And as time went on, we started Seeing doctors and having tests and medical procedures to try to work out what was going on, nothing came up on the different tests. The various specialists we saw really weren't sure why I wasn't falling pregnant.
And this was really hard because it was frustrating. We didn't know what was going on. Why we couldn't have a baby. And a lot of my friends were starting to fall pregnant at the same time. That's hard. . It was really hard because I'd be excited for them. But then I just felt so painful and tricky because I didn't have a baby and couldn't understand why, and just didn't know yet know what was going on and what the road was going to look like for us.
And then in the meat. So this had been going on for a little while. And then my husband randomly had a cardiac episode and , he was diagnosed with a really serious cardiac condition that for us just came out of the blue. We'd had no idea that this was there was anything going on. His condition deteriorated quickly. And so he spent a lot of time in hospital over a period of three years. And that was in Sydney. So there was lots of times spent in Sydney in the hospital. . Lots of time back and forth. , it was, , it was really hard. Luckily my family live in Sydney and so we had some really good, . We had some really good supports there, but it was really hard.
Laura: You're looking at growing your family and then all of a sudden you'll face. Are we going to lose my husband?
Laura O: absolutely. And that was huge because I, , I'd gone from thinking the biggest problem in my life was that I didn't know if I was gonna be able to have a baby to suddenly thinking, am I going to have I'm not going to be widowed.
This was, it was really serious. And. , he was so unwell over that period. And so then that really became the big focus, so the baby went into the background because we were just so focused on everything that we were dealing with around the health stuff. , ultimately he needed a heart transplant, but that surgery wasn't straightforward either.
And so there were lots of complications and lots of time spent in hospital following that. And after a very long road, he made a miraculous recovery and was able to return back home. And then about a year after he had his heart transplant, he was able to return to work again.
Laura: That's amazing.
Laura O: It really was. It's a beautiful story, but it's, it would have to have its whole other story that flooded out there. So after my husband recovered. Also, this is the bit where I'm then meant to fall pregnant. Struggle. God, I can understand why we didn't have a baby before. Like completely understands her nails are taking care of us. It's I trust in that timing. Now I can make sense. But the thing is, I actually just still didn't fall pregnant, which was like, oh really? And so we did end up going down the path of.
And for us, this was a very really a straightforward path that I fell pregnant straight away with our eldest son. Our son ended up being born five years after we had first started trying to have a baby.
Laura: . All right. We packed a lot in that five years. , we really do.
Laura O: Goodness.
Laura: . It's a lot to do with that sounds really full on and so much to process in all of that, what kind of heart issues or what tension did it bring out for you? How has your heart and attitude towards God? As we've said life wasn't turning out the way we had planned
Laura O: for me, the way it looked is I had a lot of sadness and grief around life, not turning out the way I'd hoped. I always assumed that I'd have children and had a timeline in my mind of when we'd have our first child and how many children we had, which I think a lot of us do. First, the infertility and then the health stuff that we went through, I found it really hard to process that , my plans might not be what God had in store for us.
And I found one of the hardest bits was not knowing if I'd ever be able to have a baby. I just really wanted someone to reassure me and say, oh, look, it will eventually happen. And it will all be fine. And so I found the not knowing during that period of my life. And what God's plan for me was really hard.
And I think, , that was one of the most challenging things in that period.
Laura: I remember you saying when we chatted earlier that if you had just known you were going to have a baby, it would have been that's. Okay. I can just wait until then and would have found it easier to
Laura O: trust. , absolutely. I just wanted to know. I'd be able to have a baby and that my husband was. And they'd be, we'd come out the other side of this, but we didn't know. We didn't know what it was going to look like. I'm a planner and I always like to know what's going on so I can plan a step ahead. And it's really hard when you can't plan a step ahead when your, that way inclined.
Laura: It's a real exercise of trust and faith, right? Do you remember when Jesus was talking to, was it Thomas? One of the disciples and he says, blessed are those who believe without. Saying something
Laura O: like that. Yes. It's
Laura: just, I dunno, it just makes me think of all those times where I'm the same if I just knew I can trust you. If I just see you, I can
Laura O: trust you but you have to trust without knowing. Yes. And.
Laura: The more we know got the more we're reading our Bible and knowing God we can trust his character. Yes, it will be. Okay.
Laura O: And I found that really helpful during this time is just reminding myself of the truths about God. And I just, there was so much that I didn't know what was going to happen, but I knew.
God was faithful. I knew that he loved us. I knew that he had a plan for my life. I knew that he was in control of everything. And even though I didn't know what was coming up, he did. And so that was really comforting to know that there were no surprises for God. I found enormous comfort in just reminding myself about his character in goodness, during that time.
But still, I remember we stopped going to church on mother's day for a few years, because it was just too upsetting to be there when there was such a focus on celebrating mums.
It was really hard. It made me rethink my entire identity and the shape of my life. And then when my husband became so unwell, I was just terrified of him dying and that I've become a young widow and there was so much going on. During this period that we had no control over, I felt very lost and overwhelmed, but through it all, I was so comforted that God was faithful, that he heard my prayers and cries, and that he loved me and treasured me.
I was really comforted by the truth that I was his child and that I had not been abandoned by him. And whilst it was clear, I wasn't in control of the situation. I was very confident to remember that God was, and that none of this was a surprise to him and that he was sovereign in the midst of all we were going through.
Through the whole thing, it felt like this process of surrendering and putting to one side the hopes and dreams of my own and trusting that God was faithful. And that I. And needed to trust his plans for my life.
Laura: That's really beautiful. You mentioned control a few times in how you're wrestling with it.
And I think it's actually something that we all wrestle with as moms, whether it's the bigger things like wanting to have a baby or big worries with the kids that we have right down to finding that perfect sleep routine or a Bible reading. What have you learnt or how have you grown when it comes to this desire for control?
Laura O: , that's a big one. I have always had these like latent control freak tendencies, and they definitely seem to come out more when I'm stressed or overwhelmed as just my way of feeling comma and capable and like I'm on top of the. But having faced just a bunch of big stuff where I had zero control, you can't keep that up.
And it did help me to surrender to God and trust his plans. I used to say to myself, just stay in my lane and trust God, I don't need to know exactly what's happening or what my life will look like. It's my job to be faithful and trust God, regardless of what my life looks like and what his plans.
That's beautiful. , it look, it helps with the control thing, but still like it's, it's all areas of sin. It comes up all the time. And since having had children, it just adds an extra stretch because you find that it's, there's even more things that you can't control in your life.
And I really struggle still with wanting to have this. Nice, established and reliable, already planning my day. I used to feel like I was able to do before I had kids.
Laura: And it's easy to think. Yes, I'm close to God. I'm doing the right thing as a Christian because I've had these amazing Bible studies, but.
Laura O: And it just throws a curve ball. So I just seem like I get in these really good groups where I'm feeling like I've nailed it. The kids are older, I'm in this really nice routine again. And then one of them starts waking at 4:00 AM and it all goes out the window and , so I have this like strong desire feeling like I want to do things the right way.
And then when it doesn't go to plan, I can feel quite defeated. And find it difficult just to do something versus wanting to do it perfectly. . Just a helpful reminder for me in this stage of my life, that the perfect habits and routines that I'm seeking, they actually won't be the one save me.
Remembering that I am saved by grace, not by my perfect 5:00 AM Bible reading plan.
Laura: . That's helpful. So this is a bit of a broad question, but how can you see that you've been refined over the last nine years?
Laura O: I can really see, like now retrospectively how God works through everything we've been through.
During the years with the, my husband's health and the infertility struggles. During the most difficult times, when my husband was really critically ill, I learned to trust God and depend fully on him in a way that I never had to before. I'm so thankful that God used everything. I went through to deepen my faith and reliance on.
Often during those times that my husband was really unwell in hospital, the staff would comment on how calm I seemed, given everything that was going on. The thing is, it was really hard and there were times where it was completely overwhelming, but I had this incredible sense of peace knowing that God was in control of all of the details and that it was okay if I didn't know.
Coming up around the corner because he did. I guess in more recent years since having children, I feel like once again, you're stretched in a way that you haven't been before. And in that I can see so much of my own sin as exposed. at this stage of my life, I've been particularly challenged in the need to be patient and flexible.
And this is, this is impossible. To achieve on your arm and you're physically and mentally exhausted and so depleted. But I love as a Christian mom that we know that we can lean into God and that he can be our strength and fill our cup during just a life stage where you do feel so constantly depleting.
And it encourages me that I don't need to do all of this in my own strength because I can't, but God is walking this road with me and he'll just keep on loving me and refining me as I continue to walk along through it as well.
Laura: I find it encouraging when, as you're saying, you feel constantly depleted and just at that sheer exhaustion.
I find in those moments, my control reasons head, if I can just get that good routine, if I can just get, lunchboxes packed the night before, that sort of thing. But. To actually know that in those moments, I think I get a few Bible verses, but one that it's in my parents made perfect in weakness, therefore our boast all the more gladly because then that's when cross paths on display.
And I just, I could see that. So tangibly when I'm so prone to seeing in those moments, but if I can. Stop and pray, God, help me be faithful to you. Help me not sin here. Help me point to you in all of this, he actually
Laura O: comes through
Laura: and it is a small miracle that I just didn't explode or yell or control or, not be sinful.
Laura O: I know. And the thing is, it is hard because when you are well organized, things do run more smoothly. And so it's this constant struggle with. Okay. It's okay to be seeking a bit of organization and order for the smooth running of the household, but not then letting that creep into becoming like a controlling.
This is the most important thing. And I'm trying to do this all in my own
Laura: stress. . You need to flex because the three-year-old's not going to stick to your routine and they're going to have their meltdown and you can stick to the routine and that, or you can. Help your child through that and be loving and yes,
Laura O: absolutely.
Laura: But you did say that the flexibility of it. .
Laura O: You do need to be curious I feel as though that's been a big area of growth for me around. Patience and flexibility and just loving your kids where they're at and . . That's
Laura: beautiful. I'm just thinking of the mum who's listening and has walked a similar road to you. So we have plenty of women who have shared that they listened to their show and they're desperate to be mum.
So I'm often thinking of, yeah. Listener if that's the road that you're working and wanting to love you and be sensitive to you in this, Laura, do you have any hope or encouragement for that woman who you know, is in the throws of infertility or even ill husband, ill children? What truth would you want to remind her of?
Laura O: Oh, it like, it is so hard when. Life spiraling out of control. And you have no idea what will happen next. I just like term line the woman who's experiencing this, that we have a God who loves her and is in control. And no matter what road you're walking at the moment, God is right there with you. And you have not been abandoned.
You can cry out to God and know that he listens to your cries and won't let you go. I used to find great comfort from Psalm 91, during that really difficult time of our life, where I didn't know what was going on I can share the first few verses. Now, whoever dwells in the shelter of the most high will rest in the shadow of the almighty.
I will say of the Lord. He is my refuge. And for. My God in whom I trust, surely he will save you from a Fowler's snare. And from the deadly pestilence, he will cover you with his feathers and under his wings, you will find refuge. His faithfulness will be your shield and Rampart.
Laura: That's beautiful.
Laura O: Isn't it? It's the most beautiful imagery just knowing that we can lean into God and that he'll be there to protect us and be our refuge. But I'd also like to encourage the woman who is going through some of these really difficult times, that if you can, to surround yourself with some Christian friends who can help support and encourage you, I had some beautiful friends who supported me, prayed with me and loved me, and they were such a blessing and a really difficult time and made walking the road seamless, lonely.
Laura: That's really beautiful. Laura, thank you so much for coming on and being vulnerable and sharing your story with us and just reminding us to seek Jesus and to trust him.
And just a reminder that God is faithful and that he's sovereign over our lives. I've been really encouraged. So thank you. Would you mind wrapping up the show by praying for the moms who are listening?
Laura O: Yep. Very happy to. Father God. I'd like to thank you for the women who are listening to this podcast and pray that you might be encouraging them as they listen to what we've chatted about.
I'd like to particularly pray for the woman who feels as though her life's in turmoil and things. Aren't going the way she had hoped. Father. I pray for anyone who is feeling this way, they would hold fast, your truths and rest securely in the knowledge that you love. That you are faithful and that you are always with us.
When we navigate the tricky times in our lives, let us all be reminded that we have an eternal hope beyond the hurt and pain we experience in this life. And father, please also help us to love one another and show sensitivity and compassion towards the Christian women we have in our lives. Help us to be women who value relationships with one another and demonstrate your love and kindness.
Thank you for your grace. Love and mercy in Jesus name. I pray Amen