It was a cold night in the middle of January 2014. In the quiet, I placed our littlest in his crib and felt the familiar, painful yearning – so far unfulfilled, though God’s other blessings were abundant. There in the dark, I knelt at the changing table in the nursery and with clutched, folded hands began to cry. It had been a long time since I had prayed and I certainly didn’t feel like I had any sway with God. My absence had been deliberate.
“God,” I could barely choke it out, “in the Name of Jesus Christ, I beg you to give me a daughter. Please.”
I was blissfully happy with our boys; but independent of being head over heels for them, I longed for a little girl. I wanted a chance to be on the other side of a mother-daughter relationship and because we had conceived only sons, I had zero hope that it would happen. Years ago I read that invoking Christ’s name in sincere prayer would effect a positive answer to your petition; but not wanting to test God, I added, “If this is not in accord with Your will, then give me the grace to bear this desire.”
In the months following my beloved father’s passing in 2013, something happened to my faith. Initially I went through a sort of spiritual high, certain that regardless of my dad being in Purgatory or Heaven, he was happier and cancer-free. I said over and over again that I wouldn’t wish him back because the hope and joy he must have would be fuller and more complete.
Then the permanence of his death hit and my faith took a rapid dive. The facts were that I had begged God for my dad’s life and that he died anyway. After that, I wasn’t sure of anything, even God’s existence. I felt like a fool for praying and I felt like a fool for doubting, and I can’t recall ever being so confused. I felt like a hypocrite for speaking words of faith or hope to people when I wasn’t even sure of them myself. I felt tired from resisting God’s persistent beckon back to His heart, and angry that somehow my dad’s death was part of God’s permissive will – that it was part of The Plan. Some of these feelings still linger, but my hope has had reason to grow.
After my fervent supplication at the changing table, I stood up drying my cheeks. Face toward the ceiling, I prayed, “Dad will you help? Intercede for me.” I left my tears and faith behind, and closed the nursery door.
Two months later I came home late from dessert with a friend to a deliriously fatigued husband. “You know, Andrew?” I bounced happily, “We are so blessed! We have three fantastic kids. We love each other. We have a sweet little house. God really has blessed us!” Not fully participating in my giddiness, Andrew managed a tired smile-n-nod at me before shuffling to our room. A few minutes later I followed, slightly trembling with joy and nervousness; in my hand, a pregnancy test with a tiny +. “Look how blessed we are!” I blurted. This was a completely unexpected surprise. We just looked at each other and started laughing – a fourth baby added to our chaos. “God bless our family,” Andrew prayed as we knelt at the foot of our bed. “All six of us,” I added and we laughed more – shaking our heads, eyes huge with wonder – how the heck were we going to do this? Four kids ages 4 and under. People are going to think we’re nuts! (…that’s another post)
I didn’t dare hope that night, though I wanted to, that God had answered my prayer. I wouldn’t accept it as an answer until I knew exactly who was in there – a daughter or a son. Did we just happen to conceive another son or was this God granting my desire? Now I shake my head at my past stubbornness, knowing that God’s faithfulness is not contingent upon my being pleased with how He answers me. Pride can take you down a painful road of stupidity.
The morning of June 4th, the ultrasound revealed that God had given us a gracious gift; our daughter was on her way. In the darkness of my faith and the hardness of my heart, He offered a new life, the fulfillment of a painfully deep desire. She was born November 11th, 2014 – Veterans Day; significant because my father served in the Air Force for over 35 years and I asked him to pray that we’d have a little girl.
A few weeks ago, I stood in the nursery again – this time changing a diaper rather than praying – and it occurred to me that the start of all this happened exactly a year prior. A year ago I cried begging God for a daughter and there I was looking at her tiny face and bright smile. She’s the sweetest little thing; a real blessing to her father, curious big brothers, and me. I still struggle with my dad’s passing and my faith is still healing, but her very existence is a reminder that God remains even when I’m absent; that He is faithful when I’m unsure; and that He loves with generosity and mercy when I am hardened.
I share this because I don’t want to forget it. In the face of difficulty, it’s easier to worry than it is to remember God’s past faithfulness, and the hope that comes with knowing He has seen me through every adversity leading up to now.
Regardless of what troubles you, remember and be strengthened by His mercy.
Bless the Lord, O my soul;
and all that is within me, bless his holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the Pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good as long as you live
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.