Our first miscarriage was quite a shock to my husband and me. Our second miscarriage was heartbreaking. We had been married for 7 years at the time and had waited what seemed like an eternity to begin trying to get pregnant. We had students in our student ministry that at times seemed more frustrated than we were with our long time table. For years friends, students, and church members had assumed that we had fertility problems because of us not having children. We would just smile as many speculated because we knew that we were actually waiting and had never tried to get pregnant. Ryan and I had married young and had chosen significantly long degree paths to pursue. We would get antsy at times as the years past by and more of our friends got married and pregnant but we had comfort in knowing we were choosing to wait. We were still young and we were right on track to my perfectly marked out 10-year plan.
You see, I have always had my life planned out for myself and, until now, God seemed to agree with my perfectly formulated, perfectly calculated, perfectly Instagram-documented life that I had laid out in my all-encompassing, beautifully decorated Erin Condren planner. My coworkers, friends, and former classmates are undoubtedly already laughing because my planner is pretty famous. I fell in love with planning when my Mom gave me my first planner at the age of 5. I fell in love with goal setting when my Dad had me turn in my yearly goals twice a year at the end of summer and beginning of the New Year as an elementary school student. “Good things come to those who wait, but better things come to those who plan, and the best things come to those who make their plans happen” was basically my motto. The parable of the persistent widow has been my favorite Bible story that has motivated and guided me through my 10 years of earning my undergraduate degree, masters degree, and professional counselor licensure. But all that had now been accomplished and according to my timetable, it was baby time ‘o'clock.
My first miscarriage happened on what I had named “Legacy Night” for the girls in our student ministry. Legacy Night was the night that the seven senior girls on our “Legacy Squad” girl student leadership team were going to give their testimonies for all the younger girls to hear. The goal was for the younger girls to be encouraged and motivated by hearing how these older students had navigated the ups and downs of junior high and high school with God’s guidance. The tagline for legacy squad is “learning to live your legacy.” When I presented this vision to the girls at the beginning of last year, I was tempted to have the motto be “learning to leave a legacy,” but God prompted me to change “leave” to “live;” and I’m so glad He did.
It was a surreal experience to stand in my back yard on Legacy Night, surrounded by over 70 teenage girls and hear the senior girls talking about living a legacy while losing our first child. I am convinced that if the motto had been “leaving a legacy” I would have been completely devastated. But the Legacy Squad motto that God had given me was “living a legacy.” As I stood there listening to the testimonies I realized I was living my legacy. My legacy was literally right before me, talking about God’s goodness, His faithfulness, and my and my husband’s influence on these student’s lives. My legacy was happening in the moment I was losing our baby and I was so close to missing it, to not even seeing it. Let me be clear that Ryan and I would have done anything to see these babies born. We are still processing these losses. We look forward to meeting our two babies in Heaven. But until that time comes, and until God chooses to give us our own children, God has a lot for us to do in the waiting time.
As my Dad says, “Waiting time does not have to be wasted time.” Legacy is not in the future. Legacy is not something that happens after we die. Legacy is not something that only happens after we have constructed the perfect family to be featured on Instagram. Your legacy is now. Your legacy is in the opportunities God has given you today. Your legacy is in the lives God has put in your path now. Obsessing over tomorrow robs you of the opportunities of today.
In John 9:4 Jesus charges us,
“We must work the works of Him who sent Me as long as it is day; night is coming when no one can work.”
How is God prompting you to live your legacy today?
Julia J. Sadler