This Sunday my husband and I visited a new church. Originally, I thought that maybe we’d come on the wrong day to see what the church was like on a typical Sunday. Not only was I wrong, but things inside me were broken in the best way possible.
I have struggled tremendously and painfully at different seasons of my life with doubting my salvation. Even, by means with which we are saved. Sometimes, I get scared or nervous when I find out others have come to know Christ. It often brings up questions and fears for me. Some of the time it is spiritual warfare. Some of the time it is anxiety. Some of the time, I think it is learning more and giving up control. A lot of the time it is a struggle for me because of the ways Obsessive Compulsive Disorder manifests itself in my life and my own failure to recognize intrusive/scary thoughts as false at times.
That day, I tried to appreciate each moment of the service and what I could learn from/be blessed by during it. When we walked in and a baby girl was being prayed over during baby dedication, I was thankful for her sweet family and pointed out to my husband that the family next to them was holding a baby boy. We are having a son in the Fall.
When it came time for baptism, it was approached in a unique and beautiful way. There were two little girls and a mom from the same family sharing a bit of their testimonies and the husband/dad was going to be the one to baptize them. I had a bit of nervousness, but I was so blessed by the testimonies. Especially, the two from the little girls. Their maturity, faith, and pure love for Christ was beautiful, inspiring, and genuine. It reminds me of the miraculousness of our God and that receiving Christ at a young age doesn’t mean that God hasn’t drawn you to Himself and that there is a consciousness of decision or beautiful love that is sincere. It reminds me that we are to love as these.
I was also reminded as the husband and wife cried while he baptized her, that my husband and I were baptized on the same day at our old church when we were engaged. A day that I spontaneously gave testimony to what God had done in my life at a time when I could remember fully and use my own words.
I prayed during the service Sunday for a few things. A couple of them were these — I asked God that if it were His will, would he give me confirmation and assurance that I was His and that if He felt that this was a prayer He had answered over and over that was fine too. Also, I have felt a lot of numbness spiritually, and I knew that it may be God teaching me to love and trust Him without sensationalism or relying on my emotions but I had missed being moved. After praying about the confirmation of salvation, I didn’t really think about it anymore but began to pay attention to the things that were being brought to my heart pretty vividly.
Members of the church got up and began to share things they were learning from God, encouragements, provision, and victories. I had already begun to notice the amount of young babies and the other pregnant women in the room. A couple got up and began to share about God’s faithfulness in their lives. They had struggled medically for awhile to conceive a baby. The wife shared of a women coming up to her at a library parking lot and telling her that she felt God wanted her to be reminded of His miraculousness. She shared that although it didn’t quell all her fears, I think it reminded her that God was with her, listening, and working. She was now sixteen weeks pregnant. I clapped along with the church in joy.
God brought many images and memories to me during the process of listening to the stories of each person. I remembered how grief stricken I was earlier in our marriage when I thought I was pregnant. The chemicals in my body and hormones had surged mimicking a pregnancy, and although I knew it probably wasn’t the perfect time or maybe the baby hadn’t been completely fertilized or had never been there … we saw so many signs. I was so sick like I was pregnant and I already fell in love with it, my husband in a lot of ways too. So much so, that when my period started late, my heart broke. I was reminded of times we went to church after that and when I saw someone holding a small baby I would cry.
I remembered as my husband and I served the homeless while living in Nashville, God using several of them to speak to my heart about becoming a mother. Once we prayed over a homeless couple and the women said to me, “Are you pregnant? I feel like God is wanting me to tell you that you’re going to have a baby soon.” It was not the only time that it was brought to our attention by a homeless friend. In fact, one of them told us we were going to have a little boy. At at time when I wasn’t pregnant, it gave me hope that I would have a baby. Also, I think it made me think I was pregnant at times when I wasn’t, but on Sunday, I realized that God’s soon and my soon are different and if anything He was showing me that he hadn’t forgotten me, that he knew the desires of my heart, and that I could trust Him. I wasn’t always good at it. It wasn’t that I had baby fever so much or that I wanted us to have a baby before we were ready or had been able to enjoy our marriage. It was just that something was different in me after I felt the loss I’d felt.
I also remembered when my husband and I did choose to be open to having a baby and trust God with timing in our lives. We took the leap and a few weeks later we found out that I had a lesion on my brain that could be a low grade tumor, a cyst, or MS. I went through several MRIs, lots of doctor visits, painful headaches, visits to the ER, and a spinal tap. The neurologist made us wait on pursuing the baby and said that in six months we could try again if the lesion hadn’t changed or there weren’t any additional lesions. She said then would be a perfect window. We had no idea what would happen.
It was brought to my mind that we had been without birth control for eight months, which isn’t long in a lot of ways, after deciding as a family that I would take time off from working so my body could heal and be healthy enough to carry a baby. Also, because of hypothyroidism in my life we didn’t know if there could be possible difficulties to navigate.
We moved to Birmingham to be closer to our families so we could start a family. I remember that the day I found at my sister was pregnant, I was so genuinely happy for her but when I got off the phone I was crying, thinking why is everyone super fertile but me. I read a devotion about not just praying but reminding God of the things He’d done in the Bible for others and asking Him specifically for the things we desire. I for a long time had looked at the beauty of Mary as a mother, Elizabeth was older when God brought John into her womb, and God was faithful to Sarah. So I asked him that day to do for me what he had done for Abraham and Sarah. That day I’d found out my sister was pregnant. At my cousins wedding, I’d been more emotional than usual and had said to my husband, I’m never going to get a baby in my belly. What I didn’t realize at the wedding or the day my sister called was that already pregnant.
At church Sunday, I looked at the lady holding her young baby and remembered that time of great grief when such things would have made me cry and knew now without any doubt that there was a thriving baby in my belly — a little boy who I am six months pregnant with. No more sad tears. As each of the memories surfaced I was reminded of God’s faithfulness in my life. Sweetly, as the service passed, more and more pictures and moments came to mind, and I became more and more aware of God’s love for me. I had never been let down by Him even when I thought He was silent. This was no exception. There in the midst of His Spirit we sang about His goodness. The reality of His goodness in this situation became so tangible.
I thought about a movie we’d seen not too long ago that shared about how magicians trick our minds. They make us look at the thing they want us to focus on and we don’t see the reality of what is actually happening. Life is like that for me a lot. I’ve definitely enjoyed this pregnancy, but I’ve been focused at times on the distraction. The house repairs, learning how to fit back into being around people again as a couple, having healthy grown-up boundaries with family, and my own expectations. It’s crazy how a blessing comes and we are led either by our own humaness or the enemy to look at the illusion that keeps us from the truth. All that was torn away for me on Sunday …
I put my hand on my side and my tummy. I thought of how special this kicking baby would be for me. Not just because it was a child and we wanted a child. It wasn’t just like we said let’s have a baby and immediately got pregnant. Mostly, because at a time in my life when I knew I was being blessed but felt a bit lost, numb spiritually, and that maybe I was resisting my relationship with Christ . . .God reminded me of his faithfulness, that He is still moving in my life, that He’s not done with me, and He’s not distant.
I held to my son growing inside me and thought about how special he’d be because of the answered prayer he was and all God was showing me. I thought how though his birth may be painful that it would be a worship experience to me because of the things God showed me throughout the service. I thought about how God must have a beautiful plan for our son. After all, the baby’s name, Ezra, means help …
Then, quickly in my spirit I heard —
His name means Salvation.
I immediately broke into heavy tears. I was overwhelmed in the best way possible.
In a less than a moment, God had knocked down my walls with His power and stomped the enemy in my life. Answering a prayer I had forgotten about from earlier in the service. We had never planned on naming the baby Ezra and had decided a couple of months into my pregnancy. I knew now that every time I look at my son I will be reminded that I belong to my Lord and nothing can change that.
I have never been more blessed to crumble.