where I am reminded of faithfulness

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

'Sarah's Baby Shower' photo (c) 2008, Jeremy Nicholson - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

When I am first invited to baby showers, my initial reaction is always a sort of dread. Not that I don’t love babies or the women who are bearing them. Not that I don’t think those families are deserving of celebration and gifts. It’s just that I hate the forced and predictable schedule of events and please, for the love of all that’s holy, just stop it with the gross shower games. I do not want to smell a melted candy bar in a diaper or eat baby food.

(Please do not read this as any sort of judgment on those who do enjoy these shower games. I know you’re out there. Enjoy your games with all your being. I just do not. I will attend your baby shower with love and celebration even if we play ‘rub the ice cube until the plastic baby comes out’, but I do not enjoy games. We can still be friends.)

All of that background info to tell you that this fall, when I received another invite, I felt a heavy sense of resignation to my fate. Even with people that I love and want to support, even with babies that I am eagerly awaiting the arrival of, the baby shower brings a certain amount of sighing.

As typically happens when I have predetermined my reaction to an upcoming occasion, I was caught off-guard by the beauty of the event and my emotional reaction. It took me back more than 12 years to my own first baby and the showers and the community that surrounded us at that time. Not that my baby showers were exactly like this event – this one had multitudes of tables, a full dinner, fancy centerpieces, professional photography, singing, a sermon of sorts, extra prayers, PLUS cake and games and little felt pins that you were supposed to wear. Let me tell you, it was an event.

My baby showers definitely weren’t productions on the scale of this particular one (my son was born pre-Pinterest after all), but so much was exactly the same. It didn’t hit home for me until we sang together in worship that evening. The language was different, but the song was one we sang in church Sunday after Sunday while I was pregnant with our first. The very young, naïve parents, the prophetic words spoken over this baby’s life, the hands outstretched in prayer, and the joy and celebration surrounding the arrival of this baby felt just the same as it did for me so many years ago, so many miles away.

We had a couple of different baby showers, both in the homes of people who spoke into our lives week after week. Like this baby shower I just attended, it was not only fun and games and happy baby wishes. It was forty people crammed into living rooms, standing room only, with hands on our shoulders from those who could reach and outstretched hands from those who couldn’t, prayers given both for our son and for us as parents. There were prophetic words and scripture, and a mantle of blessing laid over our heads.

Honestly, it was a time of our lives that I had nearly forgotten about until this baby shower. The beauty of those moments that then and still now take my breath away, the promise of a child and the beginning of a family, the prophecy over our lives and his as well – I can hardly believe we reaped the benefit of the communities of faith we were a part of at that time.

We might have lived far from our families of origin, but we were never left to navigate that time by ourselves. When the baby from this recent baby shower was born, one of the first pictures they posted was of the mama still in the hospital bed, dad beside, with hands laid on their heads by loved ones, blessings over the new parents and their new life. The picture was breathtakingly beautiful, and an exact replica of a scene that occurred in my delivery room right after our eldest was born.

We hadn’t even moved to the recovery room before the first visitors came to the hospital. While we didn’t get to share those moments with our parents, the very first people to meet our son were ones who had loved us as their own, who had covered us in prayer and support during the whole pregnancy. They were the first to touch our son’s head and my shoulder and pray over our new family.

Those words of prophecy and blessing and prayer spoken over us by so many, they were words of preparation. I had no idea what our parenting journey would take us when we had the first baby. I had no idea the need we would have for those prayers of blessing 12 years later – neither did the people giving them, I’m sure, but God was preparing us even then. He knew the hard roads our family would walk. He knew the sleepless, tear-filled nights we would lie awake. He knew the depths of hell we would go to with our children. He was not surprised. He was ready for this, and He was making us ready too, even a decade before.

I easily could’ve stayed home that December night a few weeks ago. I wanted to; I was really tired that day. I get overwhelmed with this whole parenting thing. I get discouraged. I wonder why we’re doing what we’re doing. I too easily forget that God has been there all along. From the very beginning, he’s been preparing our hearts and our family. Molding us into who He wants us to be. Those blessings, prayers, prophetic words: they were His protection over our lives.

I don’t know what prompted that girl who led the singing that night to choose a song that was more than a decade old, but I’m convinced that it was specifically for me. I needed to hear that God had been there all along. Every step full of new mercies, every misstep covered in grace. Never once was I alone. He knew who I was then. He knew who I would become. He loves me. He is faithful. Sometimes He just needs to use a baby shower to remind me.

 

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