06 Mar BEAUTIFUL GRACE
On June 13, 2012, I found myself alone in a McDonald’s bathroom stall staring at two pink lines. Two pink lines that other people pray for, cry out to the Lord for; and yet, here they were, right in front of me – single and 21 years old. I honestly don’t know what was going through my mind as I walked out of that McDonald’s and got on the subway. I think I was in shock. The first three friends I talked to had all had abortions in the past. While I desperately wanted a “way out” of this problem, I knew that abortion wasn’t a real way out.
The words that continually kept playing in my mind were, “I knit you together in your mother’s womb.” (Psalm 139:13) I knew this baby inside of me was knit together by God, regardless of how I felt, my circumstances, or the choices I had made. So for the first time in a long time, when faced with a crisis, I turned to the one true Giver of life. I saw once again how, left to my own devices, I make a mess of things. And how my sin doesn’t just affect me, but affects everyone around me.
By God’s grace, I knew the answer wasn’t going to be found in any of my old coping mechanisms, nor was it going to be found in trying to rid myself of this tiny life. I knew the baby inside me wasn’t the problem – even though it really felt like that at the time. I began praying for peace and acceptance. That was it. That was all I could pray for. One night in August, God answered my prayer. I was so flooded with acceptance over my pregnancy and filled with the peace of God that surpasses all understanding. (Philippians 4:7) I hadn’t experienced that from God in a long time, if ever. I was left forever changed.
I first heard the song “Beautiful Things” during my pregnancy and couldn’t stop listening to it. I had it on repeat every day. Even before she was born, I just knew that in all this pain God was making something beautiful out of my circumstances. This time, I was ready to go confidently to the throne of grace and accept mercy and grace in my time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)
On December 22, I moved back home to Dallas, TX. It wasn’t easy walking back into church as the pastor’s daughter – unwed and 7 months pregnant. Yet the love and acceptance I received from the church body was more than I could have ever imagined. The church welcomed me back just like the father welcomed back his prodigal son in Luke 15. Even before she was born, God was redeeming my story and helping others do the same. So many people would come up to my dad and tell him their own stories, some of which had never been shared before, all because they saw the way he and the church responded to my pregnancy. By not trying to keep my sin hidden, I met so many people who willingly opened up to me about their own experiences.
Nine days after her scheduled arrival, little Miss Zuri Grace entered the world. Her name means “beautiful grace” and, oh, how our life continues to reflect that because of what God has done in our hearts! Since Zuri was born, people have blessed us with the most beautiful gifts, above and beyond what I could have ever imagined. God showed me through His people that He wants to give life abundantly, regardless of what I have done, but out of His great love for me and this sweet life. God showed me how He provides for His children and how He will continue to provide for me.
I had a picture in my mind of what motherhood would look like. I had accepted that I would struggle, work hard, and barely make ends meet. I thought that’s what I deserved. But I never got what I deserved. Instead, Zuri wore hand-smocked dresses and was wrapped in beautifully woven quilts. After she was born we were both given beautiful pearl necklaces. She was even given a piggy bank from Tiffany’s – of all the things to give a baby – completely useless! It sounds ridiculous, right? But that’s the Father that loves me. He doesn’t always just give what is practical and needed. He throws parties because He loves to rejoice and He gives gifts because He loves to give freely. Because He knows that my love language is gifts, He spoke personally to my heart.
A few months after she was born, we did the parent-child dedication at our church. I remember feeling so uncomfortable standing up there at the end of the line, looking at the row of couples before me. Each time they pray, they ask for those who came to support the family to stand up. I figured there would be a good number of people standing for me. But when the pastor asked for people to stand on my behalf, I looked up to see the entire congregation standing. A moment of impact. A moment where God shattered those lies I had believed that people would leave, because standing in front of me was an entire church body that was saying, “We are here for you.” They then proved it by the way they loved us, provided for us, and prayed with us and for us.
Zuri Grace turned five today and God has continued to provide for us in the last five years just as much as he did in the first year. God is good. God loves us no matter what. There is never anything I can do to earn or lose God’s love.