Never Settle

August 18, 2017 at 11:06 pm

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A few months ago, we made an offer on a house we really liked in a neighborhood we really liked. It was right around the corner from some of our friends, and it had a swimming pool and a swing set and beautiful saltillo tile in the kitchen, dining room, and hallways. However, after the home inspection, we decided to pull out of the deal. There were just too many expensive repairs that would be needed, and the sellers weren’t willing to help with any of them. Part of me was relieved, but another part of me was devastated. For the following month, I continued looking for a home, but everywhere there only seemed to be dead ends and homes that just didn’t have the things I really wanted.

I knew that it was time for our family to move, and I knew we could probably be fine in any home, but I also felt like God and the universe and everything was telling me to be patient. In fact, the words that kept coming to mind were especially significant to me: “Never settle for anything less than what you’ve always dreamed of.” Sounds cliche, but those exact words had been spoken to me nearly two decades earlier, and they had altered my life in profoundly positive ways.

At the time I was in a long-distance relationship with a guy I started dating at the end of high school. At first he was great, but as the relationship progressed, and as we both went away to college, he changed. At times I would say the relationship was borderline abusive. I can definitely say, looking back, that ending up with him would have been a disaster for my emotional and spiritual health. It was February of 2000. I wanted to break up with this guy, but I also couldn’t muster the courage.

One Sunday afternoon during this challenging time, I was standing in line at my dorm’s cafeteria, waiting to have them swipe my food card. Something told me to turn around and start talking to the guy in line behind me. So I struck up a conversation. I wish I could remember his name. We ended up eating our lunches together, and we talked for hours. I told him some of what I was going through with my long-distance boyfriend, and somehow this random stranger knew exactly what to say to break through the clouds of doubt and confusion in my mind and heart. His advice was impeccable and pointed and perfect. Among those bits of wisdom he shared was that phrase: “Never settle for anything less than what you’ve always dreamed of.”

That conversation changed everything. Within a few days, I ended that unhealthy long-distance relationship, and I spent the remainder of my freshman year of college feeling free and happy and amazing. I only saw the guy from the cafeteria once more passing on campus, but that was it. Sometimes I wonder if he was really an angel. If nothing else, he was the right person at the right time who said the right words. About six months later, I met the kind, smart, and amazing young man who would eventually become my husband. Now we’ve been married for 16 years.

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So back to the houses. When that phrase came into my mind, Never settle for anything less than what you’ve always dreamed of, it was more than just a cliche statement. It was a reminder to me that I am worthy of good things, that I can expect something better to come along. It’s true for all of us. When a situation doesn’t feel quite right in our souls, we don’t have to try to justify it or accept it or rationalize it. We can say, “No, I’m going to find something better.” So I trusted those voices in my mind and heart telling me not to settle. And we did find something much better.

Last month we moved into a beautiful home. We love it. And I’m so glad that we didn’t settle for any of the other places that didn’t feel quite right. As soon as we walked into this house for the first time, it felt like home. We didn’t want to leave. It wasn’t in a location we had imagined we would end up. It was actually further away from my husband’s job, and it wasn’t near any of the people we knew. But it was our home. We’re loving making it even more our home.

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All of this has me thinking about childbirth. Of course I’m going to tie in childbirth. In my first pregnancy, I really wanted to go to midwife. But I didn’t. I settled for something less than what my heart really wanted. I think women tend to settle a lot when it comes to childbirth. But I’m here to encourage you the way that guy in my dorm cafeteria did. Never settle for anything less than what you’ve always dreamed of. We can’t always predict how a birth is going to go, of course. And sometimes we have to accept that things have to be different than we had hoped. That’s absolutely true.

But we do not have to settle for…

  • A care provider we don’t really like or feel safe with.
  • Unnecessary routine procedures we aren’t comfortable with.
  • A nurse we don’t really like or feel safe with.
  • Birthing clothes we don’t like or feel comfortable in.
  • Anyone in our birth space who we don’t like or feel safe with.

We may not have control over everything that happens while we give birth, but there a lot of things we do have control over and do have a choice about. And it starts with who we choose to oversee our pregnancy and our birth. We get to choose who we will allow to participate in that sacred event. And we don’t have to settle. Maybe your insurance will only let you give birth in a hospital, but you can interview a variety of care providers and find someone who will treat you with the kindness and respect you deserve.

When we choose a doctor or midwife, we are entrusting our lives and our babies’ lives to their skills and expertise.  But we are also choosing the person whose words and actions have the potential to impact us for the rest of our lives.  This is especially important for mothers with a history of sexual, emotional, or physical abuse who will likely feel especially vulnerable during their pregnancies and births.  Old wounds and pain can be opened-up and exacerbated by an insensitive maternity care provider.

You deserve to be treated with kindness. You are worthy of good things. You can expect to find the perfect care provider for you. When a situation doesn’t feel quite right in your soul, you don’t have to try to justify it or accept it or rationalize it. You can say, like I did, “No, I’m going to find something better.”

Never settle.

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P.S. So you know how much I love plants? I would be so so grateful if you would “Like” this Facebook post below and help me win a gift card to fill my new front yard with them! :-)