My Infertility Journey
Lesson from a Pirate Ship
My son wants a pirate ship. To hear him tell it he needs a pirate ship. As a boy, he is naturally very enamored of pirates, boats, treasures and sword fights. When he had stitches put in last fall, he was consoled at the doctor’s office by a pirate ship they there. He told everybody about getting stitches and playing with a pirate ship.
As someone who loves to find the perfect gift, I began looking for a pirate ship. Because of my thriftiness, however, I will not pay full price for anything. Most of my son’s toys are from consignment shops and yard sales. In fact, I collect things throughout the year and had already gotten his Christmas present; but because this was something he specifically wanted, I was on the lookout. He got a castle with knights and a boat and a cannon that shot cannon balls for Christmas, which kept him occupied for awhile.
A few months ago I found the elusive pirate ship at a consignment shop for just the right price. It was a Brand name pirate ship complete with one little pirate, a crow’s nest, and nifty compartments. Imagine my excitement at finding something I knew he wanted and would really love. I also found a collection of plastic pirates to go with the ship. I was so excited about my “treasure” that I hurried through the necessary items such as clothes and shoes and couldn’t wait to get home to show my husband.
As usual, when I shop at the consignment shops, I have a plan for the toys and put them away until the planned occasion. Since Christmas had just passed and his birthday was still too far away, we decided to give him the pirate ship when we went on vacation. We try to pack as light as possible when we go on vacation, so we try to introduce a new toy (or new to him) that will keep him occupied so that we won’t have to pack a large assortment of toys. So we put it away for 3 months.
As children do, he requests certain toys he sees in various catalogs (I have to hide toy catalogs from him now), stores, or other people’s houses, but they are usually forgotten or replaced with some new toy idea. Recently, however, he started asking when he would get a pirate ship. Knowing we had a plan for giving it to him, I talked about how he already has so many toys and we would consider it for his birthday, hoping that would hold him off for a while.
Now, he talks about getting a pirate ship on a daily basis. He even prays for one every time he prays to thank God for his food. He also wants pirates to go on that ship. In fact, he said he was willing to give away some of his toys so he could get a pirate ship. I told him that was a good idea to go through his toys and that we needed to do that sometime. Last week, he began sorting through his toys deciding which ones he was ready to get rid of. I knew he was serious this time. In my heart, I wanted to just give him that pirate ship he wanted, but we knew that not only is it good to delay gratification in children, but we had a plan for that ship. We know that when he gets that ship he will be so excited and we will get so much joy out of giving him that ship. We also know that if we wait until vacation, he will appreciate it more because he won’t be distracted by other toys.
Although it is hard, we anticipate the time when we will give it to him. Sometimes I want to tell him that we already have a pirate ship and even show it to him, but at four years old it would be too much for him to see it and then have to wait for it. Occasionally, we have used a reward system to earn a desired item, such as a bike, but we didn’t want him to have to earn this. We wanted this to just be a gift.
As I was having my devotions the other morning, I began thinking about that pirate ship and I realized something. I have been asking God for something for a long time too. After being infertile for four years, God gave us a child through embryo adoption. After four more years of difficulty conceiving, a molar pregnancy and two miscarriages, we still pray that God will give us another baby. It is something I talk to God about every day. This is my “pirate ship.”
I have learned so much about the heart of God by being a parent. My relationship with my son is similar to my relationship to my Heavenly Father. There have been so many times I have gone through a parenting experience with my son and in turn was able to see God’s perspective as my parent. This was one of those times.
My desire for another baby is like Jared’s yearning for a pirate ship. It is not a need, it is a desire. Should Jared be content with the toys he has? Yes. Should I be content with the family that God has given me? Yes. Do we still desire something more? Yes. But I still want Jared to tell me his desires, just as God wants us to do the same (Philippians 4:6).
Just as I love to give my son things he desires, like a pirate ship, God loves to give us things we desire. When I think of the excitement and joy it will bring to us when we finally give him that simple toy, it makes me think of the joy that God gets in giving us something we earnestly want.
It is hard when God delays gratification. But I know that he doesn’t do it to be cruel or mean, just as I don’t. I am reminded of several women in the Bible who God caused to be barren until his perfect timing. Imagine with me God’s joy when these women learned that they were pregnant!
I have a plan for giving Jared his desired ship, just as God has a plan for me. We have a reason for the timing of his gift. If God chooses someday to give us another baby, I will know that it was His plan and His perfect timing. I know that His delay will be because He knew when the perfect time was for us to have another baby. Maybe a time when I am less distracted by other things.
At that same consignment shop, I got a bag of Peter Pan toys complete with Captain Hook, Peter Pan, a treasure box and other fun things. This is something he hasn’t even thought of to ask for. We have read the story and watched the movie, but he has never imagined that they make Peter Pan toys. Envision the excitement of that additional toy that he didn’t even think to ask for!
I don’t know if God will give me the “pirate ship” that I am asking for. What I do know is that he gets great joy in giving us gifts - abundant gifts - things more than we can even ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). This summer, when I give Jared his desired gift, as I watch his excitement with his long-awaited treasure, when I see the simple joy that those gifts bring, I will picture God’s anticipation at the abundant blessings He wants to give to me…in His time.
Originally published in Joyful Living, Summer 2008