On December 25, 2019, I plopped down on our crumb-littered sofa (courtesy of our two-year-old) and, with a deep sigh, looked at our Christmas tree that could’ve easily won the ‘Puniest Pine Award.’ Its string of colored lights the only brightness in the room during those pre-dawn hours. I held my belly, the size of an oversized basketball, and prayed, All I want for Christmas is this baby out of my stomach and in my arms.
If I look at that winter in my rearview mirror, it’s easy to see that my rose-colored outlook on being pregnant and due at any time through the holidays was a bit idyllic. Maybe the small-town/big love movies, holiday cookies, and even the story of the long-awaited Christ being born hit me in the feels a bit differently that year. Despite being on bed rest, struggling to potty train a two-year-old, and preparing for a baby, I just knew everything would wrap up nice and tidily like a gift under a tree. I didn’t want to watch Miracle on 34th Street. I wanted the miracle of my own, just-right, little boy.
After all, it was the season of miracles. Three years prior—just days before Christmas—the first spark had sizzled between me and my (now) husband. It was a miracle that my shattered heart had healed, becoming whole enough to love again. And for the past month (and all my life), I’d read the story of young Mary carrying Jesus, unsure yet believing, traveling the road to Bethlehem where she’d deliver the miracle of Immanuel, God with us.
In my corner of Texas, I wanted to hold my little miracle. I desired the post-labor relief of my husband’s approving gaze, our daughter’s ‘big sister’ glee, and hopefully a big cold-cut sandwich and a Coke.
Our son received his heavenly orders that afternoon. My husband and I hit the deserted holiday streets with just enough time. The labor was too swift for an epidural, an IV, and almost for the doctor, but she arrived and delivered my answered prayer, Ezekiel Honour. I only held him briefly before he was taken away for tests and examinations. Not long after his arrival, it was clear that he had Down Syndrome.
My breath felt jammed in my chest. A jolt of panic traveled up my spine where the epidural needle should’ve gone. This wasn’t how I saw my miracle going—this was not my plan. Doubts flooded my mind. How could I raise a child with special needs? How could I be enough? The extra doctors and complications clouded my view. The love I’d carried in my womb over the last months felt outside my reach as the truth of the diagnosis stretched like a heavy canvas on my heart.
But then the Father’s gentle voice sliced through my fear, Ask Me to give you more love for him. I sighed deeply, reminiscent of my hefty sigh from earlier that morning. I closed my eyes, shutting out the beeps of the delivery room, the uncertain expression on my husband’s face, and the amplified beating of my own heart. With a shaky spirit, I asked Father what He told me to inquire. What happened next was nothing short of a miracle.
I opened my eyes, and the same little high-yellow boy with closed, slanted eyes melted me. I was drenched in love. It poured down like a heavy rain while filling me from within. This love came with the assurance that I’d be given all I’d need to raise, advocate, and nourish him. The fears dissolved into a pool of love, and I waded in, proving 1 John 4:18 true: There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.
This love evicted fear with a steel-toed boot. Ezekiel was a miracle. And the Honour of loving him would be, too. Later, Ezekiel was also diagnosed with Hirschbrung’s Disease. He was airlifted to another hospital’s NICU. But the love that the Father broadly poured into my heart that Christmas afternoon was the grace that kept me through those arduous days.
Let’s reflect: Jesus was and is a miracle, but Mary’s story was less than ideal. An angel came with a great message that probably left her with more questions than answers. Her soon-to-be-husband didn’t understand the virgin-with-child situation. Then after getting through all that, she—a young teenager, poor and afraid—brought a baby into the world in a manger with animals breathing on. Yet in the face of those challenges, the fact remains: she had the privilege of birthing the Light of the World.
So, let’s not miss our miracle this season. Let’s avoid getting boxed in by the mind’s confines and our incomplete definition of the miraculous. Let’s gaze with wonder upon gifts in unlikely packages. The soul has the capacity to believe, and God’s miraculous gift for us all is still love.
What miracle will you have hope for this Christmas season?