Editor’s Note: The following is Cameron Strang’s “First Word” column from the Nov./Dec. 2009 issue of RELEVANT. His son, Cohen Isaac Strang, was born on October 23, 2009, a few weeks after this column was written.
As I write these words, it’s less than two weeks until Maya and I are due to have our first baby. We’re thrilled and nervous, as any new parents would be I guess, but for us this moment is even more significant. It’s the culmination of a hard journey and celebration of a major work God has been doing in our lives.
The truth is, we’ve been trying to have a baby for five years now. That may not sound like a big deal to some—and I’m glad to say we have a happy ending—but the process was so difficult it almost ripped our lives, faith and marriage to shreds.
A couple of years after getting married, we decided it was time to change seasons and have kids. Maya was working at RELEVANT doing project management and finance, and she was ready to shift into another stage of life and become a mom.
After a year went by, we realized it might not be as easy as we thought. Seeking help from doctors, Maya actually had to undergo surgery. When that didn’t work, we started trying other medical options, which was very hard on her physically and emotionally. Still, nothing.
Over time, we found ourselves in our own warped Groundhog Day, having to go through invasive procedures, getting our hopes up that this time it would work and dealing with the disappointment when it didn’t. Then getting our game faces on and doing it all over again. For five years.
I kept up a brave front, as husbands usually do—“it’s all in God’s timing; it’s in His hands”—even as the words began to ring hollow in my own heart. The disappointment, disillusionment and questions began to wear on us.
For Maya, her life’s dream wasn’t working out, and I saw her dying little by little as the years passed. She found herself trapped in a stressful job that was supposed to just be for a season, and, to be honest, depression became a struggle. Helplessly, I didn’t know what to do to fix things.
The harder things got, the more I worked. In hindsight, I was obviously distracting myself with a situation I could control rather than honestly dealing with the stuff I could not. And in the midst of it, our marriage was quietly crumbling. Maya and I were waiting for a day we’d find out we were pregnant, and our lives would radically change for the better. I’d flip a switch and stop immersing myself in work, she would have newfound fulfillment as a mom, and we’d become a Hallmark picture of a perfect, God-loving young family. But since that day never came, we dealt with the hurt in ways that were tearing us apart.
A few issues ago, I wrote about taking a sabbatical earlier this year. It’s because I found myself at the end of my rope, with broken dreams all around me, and without the strength to push through anymore. I was empty, but through unexpected circumstances in January God radically rescued me. He miraculously captured my heart again, and the same happened with Maya. Hurt was tearing our lives apart, but we fought back.
We ran to God, got into counseling, tangibly made major changes, and have been on a journey of healing and falling in love all over again.
In the midst of that, we found out we were pregnant.
It’s easier to say in hindsight, but I don’t think the timing was coincidental one bit. We were so focused on wanting something we thought would change things for the better, we allowed ourselves to get off track in the meantime. We had blind spots in our lives, and God needed to get our attention. We had to change things for the right reasons—for God, for each other—rather than just for a child.
Fast-forward to today, and we couldn’t be in a more different place. Our commitment to God, to each other and to trusting Him in every area of our lives has never been stronger. The journey has been a constant reminder that God wants His followers to hold everything—especially the dreams and desires He puts in our hearts—with an open hand. We can’t grasp onto our own plans and timetables. We have to let go and trust that even when we don’t understand His timing, or difficult circumstances overwhelm us, God really does have everything under control.
It’s easy to forget in the midst of struggle, but God is a heavenly father who wants the best for His kids. We need to more intentionally embrace difficult times and loss, because they can get our attention. God can use those challenges to refine us, strengthen us and help us grow.
God puts dreams in our hearts, so it’s human nature to get frustrated when things don’t happen according to plan. But remember, we only see in part. We don’t know the whole story yet, and in the midst of hard seasons, we need to be mindful of the bigger picture of what God might be doing in us. Thankfully, Romans 8:28 doesn’t have conditions: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose” (TNIV).
It’s a truth Maya and I can attest to. Our journey has been difficult, but what God has done in our lives makes the process more than worth it.
Imagine that. Turns out, God knew what He was doing all along.