Sometimes a concept, acceptable behaviour or even character can be spoon-fed to us throughout our entire lives. Thanks to clever and creative media we don’t even notice it- that everything is pushing us in a certain direction. But every now again, something comes along that can turns everything on its head. It picks you up, spins you around and shows you the bigger picture. And every once in a while, that same ‘thing’ will make more sense than pursuing ‘socially acceptable’. Sometimes that something is the catalyst for the biggest change of all.
A fitting end to any season is to look back over the events that have occurred throughout our time in it. It’s early evening on New Years Eve 2014, and this blog deserves a reflection. I mean earlier this year I was regularly posting blogs that corresponded with major events that took place in my life. Things slowed way down suddenly, though. So when the biggest event took place in early November – there was barely a mention of it on here! That’s not by accident or without purpose. Time is the brings better perspective. It is, however, a complete coincidence that this post be written on the final day of 2014. Nice when things work out…
Flashback. To early November. Due date. 1st November. Excitement everywhere as we eagerly awaiting the arrival of our new baby. The excitement would soon fade, though. But after two weeks of ‘early labor’ (or some other official pregnancy term that I was unaware of), I think my wife was just ready to get that baby out of her. Understandably. The most frustrating thing was unquestionably the regular and constant trips to the Maternity ward, each one rich in expectancy – often to return with no further news of baby’s imminent arrival.
But here’s the really honest part. Each time added a little more fear to my character. It had been a good pregnancy but it had its moments. Moments where I wondered if the baby would make it. If my wife would make it. Silly thoughts, with little or no basis for them. Both mum and baby were so healthy and everything was normal. But I didn’t know much about pregnancy. Quite on purpose. But that changed when I needed to know if it was going to be alright. That’s when I did something stupid. I Googled. Man there are some HORROR stories out there. My sympathies are with you if you or someone you know went through them. But it didn’t help. All the education I could find didn’t help. The worst thing was that I couldn’t voice my fears. Because somehow that would make them real. And the last thing I would want to do at this point was scare my best friend before one of the biggest days of her life.
So when the time came for baby to arrive, there was no fear of our parenting skills or finances. No fear of baby’s personality or hair colour. Just fear that I could loose either one of them. Grounded from nothing but stories and the Internet. Stupid Google.
Without getting too graphic (there are some things I will try and forget about that day!), baby was helped along by some injection that speeded up the process. Before too long, baby was ready to arrive into the world. The room suddenly crowded with Doctors, Nurses and Mid-wives. My knowledge of the situation was minimal again. Everything I’d learned was suddenly useless as my wife smiled at me. I held her. How could she be so calm?! She was amazing. I focused on my job. Providing water or Powerade (depending on her preference). With Downton Abbey on the telly, there was little to distract me from what was taking place. An episode of 24 would have probably been more helpful, but you can’t choose television programming times. Our room had a closed window with a shut blind, but even through the busyness of the moment, I could hear the strongest downpour of rain outside. So heavy against the window. I remember it echoing around the delivery room. My head buzzing, I navigated passed the horror stories I’d somehow kept in my head and slammed my eyes shut, slipping into a prayer. Why is that always the last resort for me?
What felt like an age was only a moment, but in my secret place, all I heard was a calming voice and I felt all of us being picked up. The paw of a Lion surrounding us. So big, all encompassing and warm. Amongst a few other things, I heard the words “All will be fine.” And somehow I knew it would be. My eyes opened and I saw my wife’s smiling eyes. Lightening, outside. Even through the blind. Followed by thunder. But for all the hussle and noise, the peace remained. I held onto it for just long enough to get through most of the ‘process’. But the situation came screaming back over the peace as the doctor delivered our firstborn. My little girl. My first view of her. She seemed (to me) lifeless. My heart dropped lower than I every thought it could. That moment lingered as questions screamed out in my mind. B seemed ok. But I began to loose my breath. What was happening? Why? What was all this for, if she was never going to live? I lost the peace. My knowledge and questions were interrupted by a comment from the smiling midwife on the other side of the room “her eyes were open the whole time!”. Before I could piece that part of the puzzle together (that she was fine), the doctor turned Squish’s head to face us. Eyes wide open. I can never tell you the relief of her first cry. It was beautiful. Evidence she was here. Healthy and here. That’s when my eyes watered. I wasn’t crying. Ok maybe I was. A little.
Becky was fine, but felt a little woozy after an injection they gave her. For the next three hours she felt weak and couldn’t hold the baby for long. She needed to rest. So for the next three hours I met my baby girl. All the emotions in the world that were SUPPOSED to hit me – they didn’t. Instead, they were replaced with relief and the warmest sense of peace. Mother and baby were fine. Looking back now, I wonder why I worried. But in the moment, it didn’t matter. All that mattered was my family were ok. And through that peace came love I never thought I could feel.
There were so many other stories from that night. Like the first nappy change, Squish’s first TV show and the Chav in the corner. But none of those stories mattered more than the relief I felt. I had my wife, I had my baby girl and back home I had my dog. My family. I loved them so much in that moment. And all the knowledge and stories in the world could never take that away from me. I’m sure there’ll be flashbacks to this moment for years to come. Out of the thunder and lightening. Out of the panic. Out of the darkness came more peace than I can explain.
Now, seven weeks on, our little Squish is stronger and healthier than ever. On reflection I can see something so clearly through this whole experience. One of thousands of lessons I will learn from being a father, I’m sure. But there is a verse that really demonstrated itself that night. In that moment, I had been told by my God it would be fine. All I needed to do was trust, but for a moment I didn’t. I lost that faith in the hope it would be fine. But somehow it didn’t matter because something far greater conquered the moment. Love.
Sometimes a concept, acceptable behaviour or even character can be spoon-fed to you throughout your entire life. Knowledge. Having it all mapped out. Revising and thinking it through. I’ve heard it said many times of late – “knowledge is power”. Let me tell you something that is truer than the storm that raged that night or the calm of the morning after. Surer than the sun rising or the tides flowing. And certainly stronger than knowledge.
…gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away… But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13 NIV.
Sometimes a concept, acceptable behaviour or even character can be spoon-fed to us throughout our entire lives. Thanks to clever and creative media we don’t even notice it- that everything is pushing us in a certain direction. But every now again, something comes along that can turns everything on its head. It picks you up, spins you around and shows you the bigger picture. And every once in a while, that same ‘thing’ will make more sense than pursuing ‘socially acceptable’. Sometimes that something is the catalyst for the biggest change of all: Realising that everything I could ever achieve or learn or earn is nothing compared to love. The author of love met with me the night of Squish’s birth. And even though I left His hope for a second that night, His love welcomed me back instantly.
I’m so thankful for this year. For the friends, for the family. For the weddings and for the new beginnings. For my baby girl and for everything that comes second to that. But if there is one conclusion to this season finale, it’s simply this. All the drama, emotion and knowledge in the world cannot replace the peace and the love that comes from Him. And if I can remember that for even a ounce of this coming year, I’m pretty sure it will be the best one yet.
“Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love. The Message”