2 Kings 19:1-4 (NIV)I want this baby to come out. This is the fourth time my wife has been pregnant, and although we’re still almost a week shy of her due date, I have never been more ready for her to go into labor. I can’t fully explain why, but it is time for this baby to be born.
When King Hezekiah heard this, he tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and went into the temple of the Lord. He sent Eliakim the palace administrator, Shebna the secretary and the leading priests, all wearing sackcloth, to the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz. They told him, “This is what Hezekiah says: This day is a day of distress and rebuke and disgrace, as when children come to the moment of birth and there is no strength to deliver them. …”
Anxiety is not a regular presence in my mind. Anticipation, sure, but this feels different. As I stood in the shower earlier today, my mind would simply not stop racing with all sorts of best- and worst-case scenarios. I’ve experienced enough to know we’re not guaranteed the good or immune from the bad, but at this juncture if there are going to be difficulties I would rather be in the process of overcoming them than simply waiting to see if they might arrive.
All along, nearly since the beginning, Kristie has said this pregnancy physically feels different than the others. The longer it goes, the more that intensifies. Last weekend we were scrolling through some old pictures and paid special attention to images from the last six weeks or so before Charlie arrived. The differences between then and now are obvious and striking. I attribute a lot of my anxiety to concern for her well being and frustration over my inability to make any difference in her physical or mental comfort.
The challenges of rebuilding our house are fairly well documented. Kristie’s mom came in yesterday and stayed the night. By the time she left after dinner today it’s almost like an entirely new place. The basement is almost entirely put back together, we’re back to being able to use as much of our first floor as ever and she picked up, neatened, wiped down and vacuumed to an astounding extent. We still have some nesting tasks — things we’d likely have banged out over the last few weeks were we not dealing with larger issues — but I never thought we’d be put back together to this degree before the baby arrives. Perhaps part of my anxiety is owed to feeling as if we are physically ready in a way we were not before.
This is a very busy weekend in the life of our church, and I’ve had to scale back all of our involvement on account of trying to be as ready as possible when go time begins. In both my full- and part-time jobs there are ongoing issues that are fighting for my mental attention at a time when I’d prefer to focus solely on labor and delivery. But the career stuff can’t be ignored, and so far we’re not checked in to a maternity suite, so no sense forcing my mind into a place it need not go. Like two weather fronts meeting, the storms in my head are increasing the anxiety.
Layering on top is the terrible resolution to an ongoing local news story hitting fairly close to come, mentally and geographically. The details are exceedingly difficult to even consider, let alone think or write about. Suffice it to say it is the kind of story that makes parents want to huge each other and their children a little tighter and make sure everyone knows how much they are loved. That I’m unable to reach my newest little guy with a hug or a kiss or an “I love you” is eating away at me like never before. I realize if he were born right now it would be weeks or months before my words made any sense to him. But the touch of his parents could mean everything, and I am flat out guaranteeing I will be a blubbering, sobbing mess the second I see his gross little newborn face.
I know the counter to all this anxiety is God’s peace. It’s therefore no coincidence I am repeating that word, peace, over and over again in my head, and have been for several hours now. I don’t know what the future holds, tonight, tomorrow or 18 years from now. But I do know I can’t control that future, only how I react to whatever actually happens. Further, I know my ability to react appropriately depends entirely on my ability to let go of that anxiety and let God’s peace wash my worry away.
I need that peace, tonight and every night. I’m sure I’m not alone.
A prayer for October 4:
Lord, calm my worried heart. Put my mind at ease. You have promised to bear my burdens, to love me unconditionally. I know I am letting the things I can’t control take over my mind, but I need that to stop. I need to clearly focus on ways I can be productive and useful, the chances I have to delight in my many blessings and to share your love with others. Work in me and through me. I want and need to be fully yours. Grant me peace. Amen.