I hold this little nine-month-old baby quite often:
I was calling him “Michel” (with my best French accent), but his name is actually Micah – after the prophet, his mother Eunice told me. I have been following his sister – a patient, Divine, for several weeks, so I can tell her story. We’ve started to become quite close, this little family and I.
“I don’t have kids,” I tell Eunice, in one of our many conversations. She looks at me like I’m insane. She crunches her eyebrows, tilts her head and frowns. Even though we’ve kind of talked about this before, this time we go deeper as she asks me why once again. “J’ai besoin une homme, premier!” Not sure if I’ve said it right, but it’s my attempt to make her laugh with my French, “I need a man, first!” She’s so beautiful, and her daughter and baby boy are no different. When she laughs, I feel lucky. I try to explain – with my best boxed answer, but adding a bit more raw truth than usual. (Enoc, who translates for us, sometimes gets a lot more than he bargained for with this job…)
The truth is, it just didn’t happen. There were times I wanted it, and times that I convinced myself I didn’t. I think God spared me by not adding a level of complexity to a marriage He knew would end. For that, I’m truly grateful. Now, nearly 40 and single, I have no clue what the future holds – all I know is that I want to be – and feel I pretty much am – content. Today. And I want to be content tomorrow, with whatever tomorrow has in store.
Recently I read in Exodus about the Israelites and manna. I was reminded of Matthew 6 when Jesus gave guidance on how to pray: “Give us this day, our daily bread…” God provided manna for each day and didn’t want the Israelites to collect more than they needed for each day (except for the Sabbath). And Jesus teaches us to practice this approach. It seems that God wants to provide for us daily. He doesn’t want us to have so much that we think we don’t need Him anymore. He wants to give us exactly what we need for a short period of time, so that we return for more, staying close to Him. We run back each morning for a new fill, another batch. We get to enjoy His provision, always being confident that there’s more to come. He wants us close. He knows us so well that he wants us to learn not to peek into the future with the desire of controlling everything for “tomorrow,” resisting the urge to try and take every matter into our own hands. Otherwise, we’ll think we don’t need Him, and then we are on our own. Until we become lonely – and look for Him again.
There are also verses in Psalms where God tells us to “Cease striving and know that I am God.” How much of life do we spend trying to get more? Trying to fill up space and time with stuff. Sometimes it’s good to stop all of that and just be still. Just be.
Eunice has five kids. She’s younger than I am, and still can’t quite understand why I’m living this way – living childless. Even when I tell her that I wouldn’t be able to do the job I’m doing today – hopping over to Africa to tell her story – if I had a husband and a family of five to take care of.
It really does take all sorts, doesn’t it?
I worry, a little, that she’s going to try and give me her precious Micah. I’ve heard about and even encountered some who are willing to give their child to another family member – or anyone, actually – if it’s believed that the person would be able to provide a better life for the child. My concern grows as I process this reality in the back of my mind – and then Eunice plays the next joke on me, saying, “You keep him!” I look at Enoc in a panic…but he’s already laughing with Eunice. He tells me, “She’s kidding!” And I breathe a sigh of relief…my heart still pumping with adrenaline.
Still, I feel so blessed, even if it my life-choices seem strange to Eunice.
A few days prior, I held Micah while his sister had her rehab appointment. I looked down into his little face as his head rested in the crook of my arm. He looked into my eyes and smiled – the whitest baby teeth and the brownest dark eyes – eyes from which I can see my reflection. I felt pure joy having him in my arms, and it dawned on me – little Micah is made in the image of God. I get to see God in this little tiny bright shining face of God’s creation. And I felt God looking back at me, smiling.
I know there will be times where I’ll feel lonely. Or wanting. Even wishing for what never was. But I do hope that I can stay attuned to and enjoy the freedom life is offering me…right now.