"To know what would have happened, child? No. Nobody is ever told that. But anyone can find out what will happen.” – from Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis
For the past several months, I have been reading The Chronicles of Narnia to my three older children at bedtime. We average about two or three nights a week and are one chapter away from finishing the last book, having read all the books chronologically according to the order of events except for the very first. It has been a sweet time and often the books have led to deeper conversations on a spiritual level. Even so, I was recently surprised to find the lessons learned spilling over into another area of our family life: that of adoption.
Of our five children, only one child has a fully open adoption in which we have had opportunities to visit and correspond with her birthmother over the years. Whether due to this openness or simply her personality type, she has become the most talkative and emotional of our children on the subject of her adoption. Lately she has brought it up frequently and generally I am thankful for the level of comfort she has in sharing her thoughts and feelings. Even so I sometimes find myself at a loss for words. It was in that context during one of these conversations a few nights ago that Narnia stepped in to rescue me.
The question she posed wasn’t as important as the half-hidden longing behind it. Basically she was wondering about “what could have been.” She was fantasizing about an “if, then” situation and my response was to gently remind her that as Aslan says in the books, we cannot know another person’s story or what could have been; we can only know our own story, and what is.
The quotes I was thinking of are found in two different books. In Prince Caspian, Aslan says to Lucy: "To know what would have happened, child? No. Nobody is ever told that. But anyone can find out what will happen.” And in The Horse and His Boy, “the Voice” (Aslan) says to both Shasta and Aravis on separate occasions: "I am telling you your story, not hers. I tell no one any story but his own.”
I reminded this child of two verses which I have shared with her in the midst of similar conversations before. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” And Romans 8:28 reminds us that, “… all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
We talked about trusting God and His plans and purposes, and we took the time to walk through her story and pictures and other special treasures I have saved over the years which connect her with her birthmother. It was a bittersweet time: sweet in the snuggling and sharing and time spent in closeness, yet bitter in the sadness of my child and that tiniest sliver of envy that sometimes pierces my own heart.
Hers is a story still being written … and I am privileged to witness it and write it down, and someday I have no doubt I will stand in wonder at “what will happen” in God’s great plan for her precious life!