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.

2010-06-20

(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.

Maplehurst

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