For this child, I have prayed…
I am not even remotely religious. Neither are my parents or my wife. I have rarely been to church. I have never formally prayed. If you asked me, I’d probably tell you I’m an atheist, though admittedly an agnostic-leaning one.
So why then, at nearly 26 weeks pregnant with a child I could only describe as a miracle, do I fixate on the Bible verse 1 Samuel 1:28 that begins “For this child I prayed…”?
Is it because after 4 miscarriages and countless medical procedures, somehow (there, but for the grace of God?) it feels like I magically willed this baby into existence? Is it because of the triteness and hollowness of language like “It was worth the wait!” and “This was how it was meant to be” just don’t ring true for me? I will never believe that suffering begets joy, or that things needed to be this way. I will never accept any conception of God that would allow innocent babies to die just to teach me some sort of a lesson in patience and virtue.
Instead, I think of all of the nights I lay awake sobbing without a sound. Of walking deep into the woods and screaming out in painted tears when no words would come. I think of the moments I silently bargained – and yes prayed – for a higher power to end the pain and give us the baby we longed for. Perhaps I don’t steadfastly believe in the God I reached for in those times, but I wished I had faith to carry me through when I couldn’t walk any longer. In desperation I mouthed the words over and over. Please. Help. I yelled in anger. I cried in despair. I hoped, oh, I hoped. And I prayed.
I tried to be a better person, more deserving. I tried to be an awful person, someone deserving of the terrible hand I’d been dealt. And all along, I pleaded. To be wrong. To be right. For a sign. For an end. For resolution.
I may be an atheist, but I prayed for this baby again and again. Out of desperation and fear, and also hope and even, maybe, a glimmer of faith. “For this child I have prayed” captures the rawness I felt, and often still feel. It also captures my relief and gratitude at this answered prayer… wherever it might have come from. And when I see or hear those words I feel at peace, content that the miracle growing (and growing, and growing!) inside me was hard fought and hard won. Thank you for this child.
I will probably continue to pray.