My baby is fifteen as I write this. He was the third chance God gave me to raise a child right. Third time is a charm. I like to tell the other two I just practiced on them. My husband travels for work, so most of the time these days it is only my youngest and me at home. He is my quiet one. My deep thinker. Blond and blue eyed. He is wise and funny and wonderful when he wants to be. My baby. My heart. My company in middle age. My surprise child.
He almost didn’t exist. I had a boy and girl already. Two years apart. Typical American family. No plans for a third child. My older two were both in school. I was going back into the work force. Things were tight financially. My marriage to their daddy was struggling. Hard decisions were being made. I was facing raising my children as a single parent. I was hurting badly. Not in a good place. Scared and overwhelmed by the needs I couldn’t meet for the children I already had. Trying to hold on. Clinging by my fingertips. And that’s when God, in His infinite wisdom, decided to surprise me. An unplanned pregnancy.
I wish I could say I trusted His wisdom gracefully, accepted His will, glowed in a Madonna type way. That’s what happens in the movies. But that’s not exactly the way my story really played out. I was angry and confused. I yelled at God, alone in the shower. I cried giant messy tears. A lot of them. I prayed. I questioned and reasoned. I told Him about His bad timing. About my bills. About the heartaches of my marriage. I told Him I wasn’t capable. I told Him I was weak. Empty. And I didn’t tell a soul that I was pregnant. For months. Oh, how scared I was for this tiny child I carried secretly. How unsure his future looked. I was devastated for him.
I had many angry questions, but God didn’t give me a lot of answers during that time. He was quiet in the face of my rage and uncertainty. Finally, calmly and gently, he gave me a promise to cling to. And it may have been the biggest one of my life. He led me to Isaiah 41:9-13. Please read it slowly. It’s a whopper. It quickly became my lifeline. I played it over and over in my mind like a broken record as I hung my head with morning sickness, crying into the toilet bowl. I taped it on the fridge and in my checkbook. Closed my eyes and repeated it to myself when the anger and fear overwhelmed me. ”Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” I felt so weak and unprepared to be what this child was going to need. I felt our chances of success together were slim. I was the epitome of “dismayed“. I was exhausted and terrified.
But I gave birth in joy in spite of it all. My baby boy was sweet and perfect. And so loved. However, the years ahead proved that many of my fears would come true. Although his daddy and I hung on for a while, we did eventually divorce in a messy, heartbreaking way. Today we are on more solid ground. Our children will always link us. And our youngest is now the most active part of that link. He has a tribe of parents, stepparents and grandparents raising him and loving him. It’s not just me. Financially, things did get tough for a while. We all struggled. My faith was weak. Many times my children did not have all they wanted. But I promised my babies God would provide enough for the day. One day at a time. One hour at a time. It was a blind and trusting faith. And He did provide. We made it. We held on. He held on tighter. His mercy carried up through.
Understanding of my surprise pregnancy did not come quickly, or in a flash of insight. It took a long time. It has occurred slowly in these later years of parenthood. My older two are gone now, out into the world to make their own way. My husband is away from home a lot. And who is here to fill my days and nights? To make me smile? To tease me and torment me? My surprise child.
He is strong today in spite of my many and vast failures as his mother. I believe he is who he is today because of the prayers whispered in secret anguish all those years ago. I begged God to take him and mold him when I didn’t have the energy or strength. I begged Him to use him in a mighty way. He was born into such a mess, and yet he is grounded in God, firm in his beliefs. He is an example of what God could and did do, when I couldn’t and didn‘t.
This child’s strength and faith are a living example of God‘s bigger picture. I know he will do great things in God’s name. I can feel it in my bones. He is one of the Chosen. God had plans that I couldn’t comprehend. How awesomely they are now unfolding. I can see His living promise. He makes me laugh and love every day. And his middle name is Isaiah.