Several people who know details about how B arrived have made comments like, “He’ll hear about this for the rest of his life – on his birthdays or when you’re angry/upset at him.”
Although B will hear this story over and over again, and although it would be tempting to use it as leverage against bad behavior, Nick and I have resolved that its retelling won’t be spoken out of bitterness or because we want him to “appreciate what we went through.” Rather, we plan repeatedly to remind him as well as ourselves of this story because of how it exemplifies the truth that God is sovereign and faithful. He is in control and we are not. And while that’s often a scary – even terrifying, at times – thing, it is so good and healthy and sanctifying.
I plan to tell him about how it is so easy and yet so dangerously joy-stealing to worry about…anything – fertility, pregnancy tests, miscarriages, health, life, death, birth plans, labor pains, pitocin, surgery, etc., etc. Every step of the process brought with it a choice – worry about what we could not control, or joy in what God was allowing us to experience, which was always more than we deserved. As my doctor told us before going to the operation room, “Seventy years ago, this could have been a tragedy.”
I plan to tell him about my water breaking and the fact that I still felt no labor pains after eight hours of walking, a protein shake, trips to Target and Chick-fil-a, and finally checking into the hospital. I plan to tell him about how upset I got when I found out we needed to start pitocin, and how the nurses worried about my increase in blood pressure, which finally settled down after I called a friend who reminded me that I could trust my doula, doctor, and ultimately, God.
I plan to tell him that there were three crucial people involved in his birth: his daddy, doula and doctor. Nick’s steady presence as my partner and best friend kept me focused during those 33 hours on what we knew was worth it all along. Becky’s doggedness and informed perseverance kept me determined and encouraged through hours on birthing balls, leaning over the back of the bed through contractions, switching out heated socks and cold rags and sips of juice. Dr. Heckman’s kind wisdom surfaced more than in the simple fact that he’s delivered over 5,000 babies. It solidified through his prayer with us before surgery, reassuring us that we could trust him. And we always will.
I plan to tell him how my understanding of Romans 8 deepened while experiencing the indescribable joy that followed the birth pains. Even though my eyelids were so exhausted that I could barely hold them open, all I wanted to do was look at him.
I plan to tell him how full my heart felt as I watched his Daddy change his diaper and learn how to care for him while I lay in bed, recovering from the surgery, and waking up in the middle of the night to see Nick already awake, watching him sleep.
I plan to tell him how hard it was to sing the words, Bless the Lord, O My Soul, to him in the NICU, forced to grapple with a deeper understanding of God’s goodness and sovereignty despite gut-wrenching circumstances when he choked and Nick grabbed him from my arms, sprinting into the hospital and leaving me sobbing for the Lord to keep him breathing. I plan to tell him that God is good in those moments when He forces us to depend more on Him, reminding us of our weaknesses and His constant presence, and how He is always sufficient.
I plan to tell him how the depths of the Gospel became richer and clearer to me in those sanctifying moments of the week surrounding his birth. As I recognized my desire for control, the awareness of both my sin and God’s goodness increased as God ordained circumstances to force me to focus more on the Cross.
And as we tell him these stories, our prayer for him of Exodus 15:2 continues, that the LORD would become his strength and his song, that He would become his salvation, that He would be his God, like He is his father’s God, whom B comes to praise and exalt.
So parents, I encourage you – don’t tell your children stories of painful, difficult or challenging moments as a way to guilt them into correct behavior. Instead, remind yourself and them of God’s sufficiency and sovereignty in those moments that were part of your sanctification. Rather than harp on their failures and shortcomings and the inconveniences it causes you, tell the stories in a way that highlights God’s power and the truth of the Gospel.
As Psalm 78:4 commands, “…tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might, and the wonders that he has done.”