On Thursday, I closed my laptop and started sobbing.
I had spent the day before visiting bank after bank after bank all day long with my husband asking for a loan for our tiny house, and we got ‘no’ after ‘no’ after ‘no.’ Well, really the responses were, “Oh my gosh how exciting! I’ve seen tiny houses on TV, I really hope we can help you,” only to be followed by, “I’m sorry, we just can’t finance a tiny house.” More on that later.
On Thursday, I had spent hours and hours on the computer and the phone trying to find a place for us to live after Christmas. We are staying in an AirBnb apartment that will not be available after Christmas. We had originally thought, “We’ll easily find a place to live after, and then hopefully move into the tiny house before the baby is born.” But after a whole lot of searching I had zero success. There were no AirBnb’s in our area that were available for the time we needed within our budget, no apartment complex in town would do a two-month lease (trust me, I called every last one), and there was nothing to be found on Craigslist or anywhere else online that I could find or afford. Finding a place to live was starting to feel utterly impossible.
Cue the sobbing. After two full days of slammed doors, I was completely overwhelmed. I felt like I was already a horrible mother for not providing a place for my baby when she’s born. Would we have to sleep in the car? What are we going to do? How can I bring a child into the world in a life like this? I felt like a mama bird with no nest for her little chick.
Let me say for starters that I’m not a Catholic, but the Virgin Mary has never meant more to me than she has the last few days. If anyone in human history would know how I feel, she would and then some. This Christmas will mean a lot more to me from that regard than ever. I’m not sure I could look at a manger scene right now without tearing up.
The day after this intense sob-fest, I decided to go to the Friday night Eucharist service at a local church we had visited a few Sundays previous. I needed some soul care. After the service was over, the priest was excited to meet a new face and ask about me and my husband. I was a young face in a church of mostly elderly faces. I told him my husband was a travel nurse and that we would be staying in town until February, just after the baby is born.
“If there’s anything you guys need while you’re here, anything at all, just let me know.”
I pounced. I told him our living situation and that if he happened to know someone with a guest house or finished basement or something (not that anyone in southwest Florida has a basement, but you never know) to please let me know.
“I’ll see what I can do.” He handed me his card and told me to call him next week. And with that, I had a glimmer of hope.
My husband and I decided to visit the church again this morning. It’s definitely a “high church” Anglican type service, complete with bells and incense (or “smells and bells” if you like). Before the Eucharist, a layperson in a white robe walks to every part of the church swinging the censer filled with the perfumed smoke of frankincense in front of the people, signifying our prayers going up before the Lord as we come to His table together. As he walked to the corner of the church, the little clouds puffed up blue, purple, pink, and yellow as it caught the colors of the light in the stained glass windows behind him.
And with this sight filling my eyes, I could feel God say, “I am writing your daughter’s story. You cannot write her story for her. You are part of her story, but I am the One writing it.” And with that, I knew we would be okay. God allowed His own Son to be born in a cave in totally unpredictable and less than ideal circumstances. That doesn’t make Him a terrible Father. I knew He would bring one of His people to provide hospitality to us and to open their home.
But I was also filled with dual comfort and terror that I have no real control at all over my child’s life: God does. He is knitting her body together. I can fill my body with nutrients, rest, exercise, and do everything I can to make a healthy baby, but her growth and her birth are up to the one building her up neuron by neuron. Her little personality is not up to me. Her will is not up to me. Her sins are not up to me. I can teach her, love her, feed her, and provide for her, but how she turns out in life as an adult is not up to me. She could reject her upbringing entirely and go her own way, or she could use what we teach her and choose a path we’re happy with. She could come down with a disease when she’s ten, or she could live to be 95. Either way, I have no real control over my child’s life: God does.
I’ll give you a parable: I had six tomato plants in my back yard in South Carolina before we moved. I cared for these plants so well because I really wanted a good crop of tomatoes. I raised these plants from seedlings, giving them little light baths during the day until they were hardy enough to stay outside. I fed them, watered them, sheltered them during storms, pruned them, weeded them, and gave them mulch. They grew and grew until they were each six feet tall. But after a whole spring and a whole summer, not one of those plants produced one single tomato. NOT. ONE. On our side yard however, a sweet potato plant grew completely on its own from out of the compost pile. I did nothing at all to make the sweet potato grow, but it grew. I bent over backwards to make the tomato plants produce fruit, but I got no fruit.
I plan on smothering my child in love because I don’t think I’ll be able to help it. I plan on teaching her how to live a healthy, Godly life. I plan on giving her structure and discipline in love. But I know full well now that my child is not a robot and that I cannot write her story. God is writing her story.
As we left the church the priests shook the hands of those leaving.
“Hey! Don’t go away, I may have already found someone for you.” Long story short, a widow in the church who is a retired trauma nurse heard that this travel nurse with a pregnant wife needed a place to stay for a few months, and she didn’t hesitate. “You may get other offers that suit you better, but if all else fails, she will take you in.” There is room in this total stranger’s inn. We haven’t spoke to her yet, but I’m hoping and praying that this works out, if nothing else does.