The title comes from Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia, in which the world as we know it and other worlds like it are referred to as the 'shadowlands', because they are only a shadow of what is to come.
When I was a girl I loved babies. I had a few of my own. They were plastic, had long eyelashes and hair that easily tangled. They were my children, my students, my entertainment. I could imagine the future as I tucked each of them into toy strollers and cribs. Rocking them to sleep with bottles of disappearing milk-like liquid was pure bliss. When I grew up I wanted two things... to be a teacher and to have a baby girl, or ten.
I did not want a boy.
I was the oldest. The only girl and the caretaker of two little brothers. My parents separated and eventually divorced which squashed my dreams of ever having another girl in the family. But boys we had. Two of them...and I vowed never to have another.
For years I carried that dream close to my heart. I had plans. When I came up with baby names with my friends, they would be girl names. When I looked at baby clothes in a store they were always girl clothes. Together we dreamed of being mommies and pushing pretty pink strollers proudly down the sidewalk.
And then I found myself carrying a real live baby...kicking and turning and growing under my heart. I told people it didn’t matter whether we had a boy or a girl, but deep down inside I knew I wanted to put pink bows in this baby’s hair.
Barely a month before our firstborn’s arrival, my husband and I went to see the movie Shadowlands at the theatre. If you haven’t seen this film it is about C.S. Lewis and his wife, Joy Gresham. She is one of his fans from the U.S.A. and they begin to correspond. Eventually she comes to England to meet him and they become friends. Lewis helps her stay in the country by marrying her for convenience. They remain platonic friends until she is diagnosed with cancer he fears losing her. Lewis risks his heart being broken and allows himself to fall in love with Joy. They marry again in front of a priest and spend another year together before the cancer takes her away from Lewis and her son Douglas.
Near the end of the movie there is a scene where her son is sitting alone in the attic crying. Lewis walks over and sits down next to him and the two sob over the lost of their beloved mother and wife. As I sat watching that my heart broke for the little boy sitting their so forlorn and in my head I thought, 'that boy needs his mommy'. In that instant I knew, before I had seen his face, that I was going to have a son. A son that needed his mommy also. In those Shadowlands, the place where we glimpse what is to come instantly melted every bit of resistance I had and replaced it with a deep, abiding love for my boy.
That September, as the leaves turned crimson and gold, I finally met him face to face. Nestled in a blue blanket looking up at me was my son. All boy and more beautiful than I could have imagined. I made plans for motherhood but God had a better idea in mind. I am so thankful he changed my heart, for I could not imagine missing one day, one smile, one bone-cracking hug of this boy's incredible life.
The movie concludes with this quote that reminds me to risk the safety of my own plans for the unspeakable joy of trusting God with the reigns.
"Why love, if losing hurts so much?
I have no answers anymore. Only the life I have lived.
Twice in that life I've been given the choice: as a boy and as a man.
The boy chose safety, the man chooses suffering.
The pain now is part of the happiness then.
That's the deal."