Monday, April 2, 2012

Emma and the unanticipated

I couldn't sleep. I was restless, tossing into excitement and turning into nervousness. Four hours away from me, a miracle was to embrace the world any moment. And it was such an unspeakably timely miracle.

My younger brother and his sweet Lindsey were expecting the birth of their baby girl. It would be the first baby on my side of the family and we were all about to burst at the seams with excitement. I remember the day I found out about their pregnancy. I thanked my brother for 'taking one for the team.' My Mom has been unashamedly asking for a grand baby since Nate and I said 'I do.' But since that's not quite our season, I gave a big grin to my brother and thanked him for taking the attention off of us.

The months prior to Emma's arrival, I climbed in and out of the invisible vortex that exists in baby clothing aisles. I had to create a budget that I wanted to break every day for a child that wasn't mine. Something about the firstborn child on our side of the family had melted my heart. I was becoming that crazy Aunt and in complete acceptance of it.

At 4 am, I received that long-awaited text letting me know that Lindsey had begun labor. Relieved with the idea that finality was approaching, I went to sleep. I arose a couple of hours later and went to work, mentally preoccupied with anticipation of Emma's birth. I tried to busy myself in excel charts and analysis, the world in which I typically am lost in from 8 to 5 p.m.

I got the message that she had been born late afternoon. And that's when the unexpected emotional reaction hit me. That's when the overwhelming weight of the sweetness, mercy and redemption of her birth flooded over me in such a way that I sat at my desk and sobbed. I cried out of pure joy. I cried out of relief. I cried out of the privilege of being able to partake in her life as an Aunt. And I cried over the piece of healing being offered to me that I didn't even know I needed.

The present season I was walking in at that time begged for His glory to show up. It was challenging, unfair and hard. The unlit stage was set for the light of His glory to come fill the place. Around me, and within me, I saw varying levels of emotional death. I believe some of it was the enemy coming to steal, kill and destroy and some of it was the death necessary to experience resurrection life. Either way, it was not pretty.

And there, in the midst of the unfair, stripping, demoralizing season that I was seeing all around me, Emma came. And she came as Emma Presley Bland. Bland 

My maiden name. The name I cling to on those quiet days when I secretly and internally ache so deeply for my Dad. It's a last name that still exists through my brother and sister, but something happened when there was new life attached to that name. And it was new life in the midst of emotional darkness. It was light bursting forth, unrivaled by any looming shadow. It was healthy, strong, unshakable, undeniable. And lastly, it was a small living piece of my Dad.

Two weeks passed before I was able to go see Emma. And as God would have it, for reasons I can't actually recall, I ended up holding her for the first time while everyone else had stepped out of the room. She slept while I let my tears drop down on her teeny little frame. She had no idea what her life had done to my heart. And I had no idea that God would use the event of her birth to bring further healing to mine.

He's so good in that way - offering a sweet balm of healing when perhaps, in my tough-girl mode, I'd become unaware of a hurt that had lingered. But not Him. He wrapped His arms around me and whispered into my spirit how He loved me so.

And I breathed it in, allowing my soul to be stilled and quieted by His presence. And there, in my arms, I stilled and rocked Emma who I don't think will ever know how much I love her. I suspect our God thinks the same towards us.

To know this love that surpasses knowledge (Eph. 3:19)


Taylor said...

Oh so beautiful, Shelly.

In Christ,

Kelly S. said...

She is precious! Enjoy every minute :) My dad had been gone 2 yrs and I experienced so many of those same emotions when Olivia was born .... over 13 years ago. Shew, it goes fast.