The Gift I Didn’t Want, The Gift that Changed My Life
I was wrought with anxiety. The kind that makes you feel like you are having a heart attack 24/7. It was debilitating and I couldn’t function. My grades dropped, my productivity tanked, and my husband thought he had just married a crazy lady.
A little background for you—I got married over Christmas break my senior year of college. Just weeks after getting married I began my last semester of college, I started a new internship in a public accounting firm, and I began the time-consuming task of keeping up a home. Due to the stress, I sat down in prayer knowing I needed the Lord’s strength. I wanted the Christian marriage every young girl dreams of and I wanted success in school and at my new job. That could only happen with God’s help.
One problem, I was farther from God than I’d been in years. I don’t have time to get into the details here, but long-story-short, I had made some choices that led me in the exact opposite direction from where God was leading me. I had just lived my life the way that I wanted it and I pushed God to the side. Majorly. And then all of a sudden I was married and overwhelmed and I wanted Him back, but the Enemy convinced me I was unworthy, unlovable, and unforgivable. And anxiety set in. It nearly destroyed me.
I couldn’t think about anything other than my regret and my deep desire to have God back in my life. But I thought it was too late. I was miserable—if God couldn’t love me then I didn’t see a point in living. I ended up on medicine because I was getting really sick. In a matter of two and a half weeks I lost a substantial amount of weight and I felt ill at all times. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep. And most of the time I felt like I could barely breathe. Nothing, no one, not even my pastor could convince me that God still loved me. I desperately needed a miracle.
Then, three months later, God used one little blue line to open my eyes to His love. The night before I took the pregnancy test, something inside my heart forced me to look at a picture hanging on my wall. Until then, I had been extremely bitter with that picture because it reminded me of the God that I believed had abandoned me. But something inside me softened this time when I looked at it. The picture says “Life, His Gift to Us” and the second I looked at it I just knew I was pregnant. I can’t explain it in any other way other than it was the Holy Spirit speaking to me and softening my heart. I believe God said to my heart, “Sydney, you’re going to get a positive pregnancy test. It is Me revealing my love for you.”
I didn’t tell Paul. What if I was wrong? What if the first time I felt God speak to me in months was just some made up emotional drama in my head? He knew I had bought the pregnancy test, but I just couldn’t tell him that I already knew the result. I woke up early the next day at 5 AM and it took less than 5 seconds to appear. A STRONG positive. My heart raced. My mind raced. I texted my sister-in-law with a strict command not to tell anyone because I hadn’t told Paul yet. I took three more tests; all positive.
Then I cried. I didn’t think it was possible. Sure, I was using Natural Family Planning instead of birth control, but I really should not have been pregnant. I kept looking at my calendar thinking about my cycle and I didn’t understand how I was pregnant. Jumping ahead a little—the ultrasound confirmed my due date and that I was correct on when I thought I ovulated, which made me even more certain this baby really should not have been here. The timing wasn’t right. The chances were so, so small. Yet, he was conceived. I knew there was no other explanation other than God really wanted him here.
Ok, back to where I was in the story—crying in the bathroom. I didn’t know how to tell Paul, so I did what any shocked emotional new mother would do—I marched into the bedroom with the test, threw it on his pillow and punched him in the arm. Groggy and frustrated he sat up and looked at me then the pregnancy test on his pillow. His exact words were “what is that?!” To which I responded “what does it look like?!” He threw his face in his pillow and yelled “How does this happen?” And I promptly went into the birds and the bees speech. Looking back, it’s a kind of funny memory. But in the moment it felt traumatizing. I had completely forgotten about the picture on the wall and the voice of the Holy Spirit the night before.
I forgot only briefly though. I walked to the laundry room to grab something and on the floor were a bunch of leaves that had fallen perfectly in the shape of several little hearts. To some this may not be significant, but when I was a little girl at Bible camp, my counselor told me that every time I saw a heart in an unusual place, it was Jesus telling me He loved me. Those words she said years ago flashed back into my memory that instant when I saw those leaves on my floor. I assume they fell off Paul’s clothes after work the previous day, but why had I not noticed them in the shape of hearts the night before? I knew it was God again.
Those heart-shaped leaves took me back to the previous night and the still small voice I heard while gazing at the picture on the wall. It was all coming together. I went back to stare at the picture and it hit me—I WAS PREGNANT. And I LOVED my baby. And I’d only known of its existence for a short 20 minutes. My mind spiraled with emotions, I thought about how I needed a healthier diet, I needed to get off my meds, I needed to buy vitamins, etc. I wanted to do anything and everything to take care of this baby even though he was still in my womb.
God is so good and so creative in how He teaches us. I should have had more anxiety. I’d only been married for three months, money was tight, I was still in school, and only a week prior I’d accepted a full time position at the public accounting firm I was doing my internship at. It was horrible timing for a baby. It certainly made my husband feel stressed. But, that very minute, looking at the picture that said life is His gift, my anxiety melted away. It was in that moment that I finally KNEW that God had not left me. If I, a flawed human-being could love my unborn child so sincerely without even having met him, then a perfect God must love his children, who He personally knit together, even MORE. I’d only known of my pregnancy for 20 minutes, but I was willing to sacrifice anything to protect and care for this child. It finally made sense why Jesus would be willing to lay down His life for me, why He would never turn his back on me.
I don’t mean to stir up negative feelings for you if your parents did not show you that same love. That’s a whole other topic in and of itself. And if that was your situation and you can’t relate to this, I just want to encourage you by saying that our God is so much bigger and so much greater than any mistake our parents made. He is the ultimate Redeemer, Lover, Father, and Friend. Find comfort in that.
For me though, that realization was enough to end my heart-racing anxiety for the time and it has yet to come back. I was able to come off my medication and find peace in the Lord, that He had NOT left me, and that he DID still love me. The journey was still hard, as my wounds were deep and healing has been a process. But I praise Him for working in unexpected ways to save my life and free me from my debilitating anxiety.
We named our son Jesse, which means “a gift and oblation.” If you aren’t familiar with an “oblation,” it is something that is offered to God. Jesse was my gift from God, born right before Christmas (what perfect timing!), and because God was so good to me, I wanted to offer him back to the Lord. I had him baptized and began to pray for his heart to be prepared for the Lord’s work, for us to raise him in faith and teach him to love God.
We are far from perfect and teaching him about Jesus has been difficult as I am still healing from and processing some of the things I went through. But I know and trust that God has a plan for Jesse’s life and for our family’s life. And I believe that God will fill in the gaps where my husband and I are weak. Because God is good, faithful, and greater than anything that will ever come our way.