Monday, December 24, 2012
Are You Ready for Love?
It always amazes me when I am traveling to see a bridge that crosses a busy highway that has been spray painted on the side with some sort of message. How did they do this? Did they get a ladder and paint their message in the middle of the night when traffic is light? Did they hang off the side of the bridge in some kind of mountain climbing “Swiss seat” and paint their message? Did someone hold their feet while they hung upside down and painted right-side up? What kind of message is so important that someone would risk life and limb to paint it in that spot?
One of my favorite messages was on a bridge in eastern, North Carolina (I think it was on the way to the beach). It said, “Joanie and Johnny ready for love.” I wonder if Joanie and Johnny painted that together? Did Johnny hold Joanie’s feet while she painted upside down? Did they admire their message from their car by driving under the bridge after the blood drained back down into Joanie’s body? And what does it mean to be “ready for love”? Are we ever “ready for love”? Or does love always take us by surprise?
My daughter, Erin, was born on October 2, 1982, although her due date was actually in mid-September. My wife, Melanie began having contractions 2 minutes apart on Thursday night, September 30 as we were watching Ted Knight in Too Close for Comfort (I am not too sure if this is a good testimonial for that show). We went to the hospital, checked in, and were led to a birthing room (which consisted of a wide table with a pillow and stirrups, and a chair). Every hour or so, a nurse would come in and do a “dilation check”. For some reason, whatever it was that was supposed to be dilating was not cooperating. I could not understand this, because from my vantage point and because of my advanced medical knowledge, things looked dilated. Let’s just leave it at that. But the nurses said that things were not dilated and they refused to defer to my opinion. So, we accepted their judgment.
Thursday quickly turned into Friday. Friday morning became Friday afternoon. And Friday afternoon became Friday night. The shift of nurses that were on duty Thursday night returned on Friday night and were surprised to find us in the same room, staring at the same walls. Not only were the nurses surprised but they wanted us out. A full moon was shining in the Friday night sky and all the birthing rooms plus the hallways were full of panting, screaming women. Going to the restroom was like walking through a battlefield with husbands clutching the hands of their wives saying, “Don’t worry; we will be going home soon.” Every bit of knowledge gained in Lamaze classes was tossed to the winds as hordes of women screamed for epidurals. And Melanie and I waited and waited in the middle of all this carnage for the appropriate dilation to occur.
Late Friday night, things began to progress for Melanie and she finally reached the critical dilation point after hours of walking up and down hallways and stairs. The doctor for that evening (our fourth or fifth doctor) thought the baby could be delivered naturally and so we were carted to the delivery room around 3 or 4 o’clock on Saturday morning. We were hardly out of the doorway before they pushed another woman waiting in the hallway into the room that we had occupied since Thursday night.
The natural delivery did not go so well. The doctor tried all the tricks in his medical book and a few that he improvised to deliver Erin, but she was having nothing to do with it. In an act of desperation, the doctor grabbed the forceps and tried to yank her out. He nearly pulled Melanie and me off the table. One of the nurses asked to be excused and ran outside, where I could hear her throwing up. With that, the doctor said, rather casually, “I guess we will have to do a Caesarean.”
We were rolled out of the delivery room and into the operating room. It was now about 5:00 am on Saturday morning. And there they delivered Erin. The nurses cleaned her up and handed her to me. I was groggy, after going 55 hours with no sleep, but Erin was beautiful, and wide-eyed, sucking her fist, not crying at all. When I looked into her blue baby eyes, I felt a flood of love pouring out of every fiber of my being; and I held her close, knowing that I was experiencing something very special, something that I was not prepared for, something surprising, something transforming. When I looked at Erin, I saw my child; someone that I would live and die for; someone for whom I would risk everything; someone for whom I wanted to live a better life.
Love is surprising in its power to transform us. Because of love, people change, and become better than they were. God’s love is a transforming love through which we can become a new creation in Christ. God’s love is a surprising love. We do not deserve it. We cannot earn it. It is freely given. It comes at a time we least expect it.
Are you ready for love?
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