Yesterday, I turned 34. My son turned 5. So far, we’ve shared six birthdays, and I hope we share many, many more.
When people discover that we have the same birthday, I tend to say that this boy “is the best birthday present I’ve ever been given.” This is true, but it sounds silly and jokey, and I feel as if I am speaking in code. Most people will never know the depth of meaning these words hold for me.
(collage by yours truly, photos by, well, I suppose my husband was probably behind the camera for each of these)
Thinking of my boy, I think of grace. Not big-picture, heavily theological, grace-with-a-capital-G. I’m talking about God’s grace made small, sweet, and sized-just-for-me.
Like so many of the best things, this gift-of-grace began in pain and fear. Infertility. Failed treatments. Insurance complications. Many tears. And then the news that we would have a second child in late June. My prayers had been answered. I was being given a miracle baby. I also knew that I’d done nothing to earn or deserve this gift, and so I began to be afraid.
My heart (without ever informing my mind) believed that the spiritual economy is one of favors given and favors returned. Deep within, I believed that I would have to pay God back for this miracle. As if life proceeds through barter, and I was in God’s debt. And so I listened to the whispers in my mind that said my son would be sick, handicapped in some way, a challenge to care for. I accepted these fears, believing them to be the price for this blessing.
With two months still to go in my pregnancy, I heard God say to me that my son was “a gift.” Better than that, “a good gift.” I stopped being afraid.
When he was born on my birthday, perfect and beautiful, I laughed, understanding, finally, that God had really meant it. My son was a gift with no strings attached. Utterly undeserved. Utterly good. All God asked of me was that I receive, and enjoy, year after year.