For God gave us a spirit not of fear, but of power, love and self-discipline.
-2 Timothy 1:7
I don't feel ready for a perfectly healthy little angel baby. So I really don't feel up for anything less than perfectly healthy. And part of my initial reaction of hoping this just wasn't true was because of fear of all the things that could go wrong during pregnancy, childbirth and infancy.
I feel a little justified in some of my fears since my health issues make this a high risk pregnancy and my chances of miscarriage are higher than normal. But, truth be told, even if I didn't have lupus I'd still be terrified of a miscarriage or of birthing an unhealthy baby. I mean, Johnie and I don't have the most stellar genes to work with from the beginning. And I've never been good at eating healthy or acting healthy or living healthy in general, lupus or not.
I always feared being unable to produce a healthy baby. Now those fears were in overdrive. I thought I could calm them by doing some research online (I know, I obviously wasn't thinking clearly), but I just became more anxious. And discouraged. It was so early my baby's heart wasn't even beating yet! How could I know if it would start beating? What if it had some chromosomal defect? What if? What if? What if?
This baby's due date also made me nervous. November 22nd. My grandmother, who is the most influential person in my life, died on November 27th. My grandfather, her husband, died thirteen years later on November 19th. That was their time. It was my time to grieve them and remember them. How could I handle adding another sad memory to that week? Or how could I handle delivering a baby and trying to be happy about it on the anniversary of the hardest thing I've ever had to endure? "Lord, please don't let this baby be born on the 27th," was my prayer.
My mom thought maybe God was giving me a gift, giving me something back to signify and help rectify the losses in my life. She was also completely certain nothing could be wrong with this baby. Two days after we learned we were pregnant, I sat out on the steps in my sunroom talking with her. "You just need to be open to what God can do," she said.
I was open. I knew I could have a good pregnancy and a healthy baby, thanks to God. But I also knew that there were many other less appealing possibilities. Thoughts of friends' babies who were miscarried or terribly ill or unable to survive flooded my mind. If tragic things could happen to my closest friends, they could happen to me too. One of the many injustices of living in a fallen world still groaning toward redemption is that not even sweet little innocent babies are exempt from hardship.
But I reflected on things that evening looking out over the field behind our house. There are no guarantees for a hardship-free life. We get tough surprises all the time. Even if I had a perfectly healthy baby, my world could still get shaken up in other ways. Tragedy can strike and life can be changed forever at any point. I've had it happen before. And God is always there to get me through it. I went to bed thankful that whatever happened, He would be by my side.
I woke up the next morning and continued to reflect on the night before. I want to be a light for the Lord. I want to bring Him glory. I try to live my life so that when those hard moments come unexpectedly, I bring Him praise and honor. I felt like I had failed miserably. Instead of trusting Him to get me through any storms that may be ahead, I just was very afraid.
That wasn't the only thing I felt guilty about. I have prayed for several years to clearly, specifically, know the will of God in the details of my life. I was at war with myself with decisions to move from Kansas to Kentucky, with decisions to take jobs and quit jobs. Always wanting to do His will, always wanting to make the right decision in His eyes.
I can't tell you how many times I have prayed, "Lord, just tell me. Whatever it is you want me to do, I'll do it. Anything." And He asks me something as simple as "be pregnant." And, at least initially, I would have refused.
I had hoped I would have reacted differently. But I didn't. I was disappointed in myself. But I slowly began to change that morning. After eight years of begging and praying, "Lord, if I am pregnant, please, please, PLEASE let the baby be healthy" I changed it that morning to, "Lord, whatever is in store for me with this life inside of me, I trust You with it. And if this baby isn't healthy in some way, I still love You and I still worship You and I still want to do Your will with my life and with this new life." And I thanked Him for answering my prayer to clearly show me what He wanted me to do, even if it was an unexpected answer.
I still want a healthy baby. I still get afraid. I just try to give it to the Lord quickly and let it go myself. And I'm sure I will continue to make disappointing mistakes in the days, months and years to come. But I hope I am growing toward a life more in line with His will.
I don't know how things will go in the weeks and months ahead. And I still don't feel excited yet. But I do feel peaceful now. And I'm letting that be enough while I wait.