“No ifs, ands, or buts about it. Not everything can go your way, so just settle down, young lady.”
Mom’s typical reaction to my childhood huffing and puffing softened over the years. The older I got, the harder the life lessons became. Looking back, I can see how God used my mom to speak words of wisdom and comfort to me during the rock bottoms of my life. Each response had an underlying theme: “Trust and pray. God has a plan. It’ll all be okay.” Even as an adult, I still try my darndest to live out those words everyday in hopes it will make a difference in my life or in the life of someone else.
Five years ago, that difference showed up at my workplace, Methodist Labor and Delivery. My patient’s labor progression was like clock work up until the end stretch. Exhausted from three hours of pushing, the OB calls it.
“I’m sorry, we’re going to have to delivery your baby by Cesarean. He’s just too big.”
My patient, go-getter that she was, put on her brave face as the doctor explained the risks of having a vaginal birth. In spite of her stoicism, I could sense the anxiety building behind her tough exterior.
Oblivious to the impact of his decision, the OB bebopped his way towards the door. “Marla’s going to get you ready. Let’s have ourselves a baby! See ya back in the OR.”
As soon as he was out of earshot, my patient began to sob. She was scared and, frankly, pissed off. With eyes like daggers aimed right at me, she cried out, “This isn’t how it was supposed to be. Everything was going fine. I went to childbirth classes and everything. I don’t want to have a C-section!” She was in total freak out mode.
With twenty years worth of C-section pep talks to pull from, you’d think I could have rustled up the right combination of words to soothe her panic. Nothing worked. I felt like a magician performing an endless scarf trick. Her desperation was palpable. And then, suddenly, it all made sense. Like magic, the pep talk scarf somehow got a little bit longer.
“Sometimes, our Plan B is really God’s Plan A,” I said quietly.
Our eyes locked. Immediately, my mind traveled to Flashback City, a dwelling place of inner dialogue between God and myself – the home of the dreaded Plan B.
1985: The Cheerleader
Marla’s Plan B: Demoted from Varsity to J.V. Cheerleader. How could this happen,God? I thought once Varsity, always Varsity. Devastated and humiliated, I sat out my Junior year.
God’s Plan A: Don’t worry. You need this time to focus on me. I’ll teach you all about faith during adversity, gratitude and what it feels like to be humble. Your body and spirit will become stronger.
Outcome: My faith in God increased. I discovered my true friends and learned to appreciate Mom even more. I got in better shape and ended up losing 20 pounds. For my senior year, I tried out again and made Varsity.
1986: The Breakup
Marla’s Plan B: I got dumped. Why did he have to go back to his old girlfriend? Wasn’t I good enough? He’s everything I want in a guy. Nice, good looking,smart, drives a nice car…AND he’s Catholic. I felt angry and rejected.
God’s Plan A: Be patient. I’ve picked out the perfect person for you who’s all that and MORE. This man will provide you with the love, respect and commitment that you deserve.
Outcome: A year later, I met my college sweetheart, Michael Lackey. This “everything I want in a guy and more” became my loving husband and father to our four children. We will celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary this November.
1995: The Miscarriage
Marla’s Plan B: My first pregnancy resulted in miscarriage. How could you let this happen, God? You knew how bad I wanted this baby. I prayed so hard, and now this? Overcome with sadness, I felt hopeless.
God’s Plan A: Our relationship is going to grow from this experience. You’ll find joy and hope in me again with your future blessings. But first, you must learn to take care of yourself before you take care of a baby.
Outcome- I grew up. Emotionally and spiritually speaking. Learned how to Let Go and Let God. Became empathetic towards patients who dealt with loss. Found an OB who diagnosed and treated my hormone deficiency which resulted in my future blessings: daughter, Natalie (20), Nathan, (17) and twin boys, Samuel and Daniel (15).
2009 – 2010: The Passing Of My Parents
Marla’s Plan B: Both of my parents died within a year of each other. I can’t believe this! Both of them? I’m trying to trust in you, God, but it’s so hard. I thought for sure they’d live longer. I don’t know if I can get through this. I was lost and heartbroken.
God’s Plan A: This experience will increase your trust and dependence in me. I will show you how Love Never Dies so your faith can be restored. A fire will be ignited within you. One that no one can extinguish.
Outcome: I’m now closer to God than I’ve ever been in my life. I have more compassion for people who experience loss. I’m stronger in my belief knowing that our beloved are still with us in spirit through beautiful heavenly signs. And I’ve started writing this blog as well as an upcoming book related to grief that shares my passion for hope and inspiration.
Within seconds, my mind had returned to the present time.
“You’re right.” She calmly wiped the tears from her eyes. “I just have to trust that God knows what’s best for me and my baby. Let’s do this.” The go-getter was back – and filled with total peace.
Sheer relief and awe came over me as I watched her handle the surgery with such ease and strength. A whoppin’ 9lb 5oz baby boy with chubby cheeks was soon in the arms of his proud mommy. “Thank God for this Plan B. There’s no way I could have pushed this baby out!” she proclaimed.
With a grateful heart, I hugged her. “I couldn’t agree more. God’s plans are always perfect, even if we don’t understand.”
Who would’ve guessed a simple sentence and a trip to Flashback City could ground the hearts and minds of two desperate women? Another successful Plan B for the books.