Some prayers take decades to be answered. We look back and can see God’s divine golden thread weaving through our life and we understand much later how he was slowly working… and some prayers can be answered in the space of one single breath. Spoiler alert, my story of answered prayer ends with the birth of a healthy baby boy named Levi via emergency c-section.
My big prayers for nine months straight were for a calm, straightforward, as-natural-as-possible labor and delivery, but this isn't a story about those prayers; because those were sadly not answered. I would have loved to have a peaceful birth story to share when people ask, but I don't, and that's something I think God will slowly reveal over my life why that's the case. Maybe it’s so I can relate with other struggling mums, or offer a kind word of encouragement instead of a scary “battle-scars-just-you-wait” birth story. It felt like one of those, “uhh hey, God, this was a great opportunity to show me you love me and hear me” moments… but that's not always how God works. He sees us and he knows us. He knows what we need and he knows how to love us.
On to the answered prayer: In the months leading up to Levi’s birth, I asked my lovely mother in law (who's been my baby-encyclopedia as she has seven babies of her own) what helped her during the hard parts of labour. She said something really simple, that proved to be deeply profound for me. She said “I would just breathe in and out the name of Jesus.” That reminded me of this really lovely poem by Mary Oliver, that I come back to over and over and over again, about how prayer can be simple — it goes like this:
It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch
a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway
into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak
So when I found myself in a dark place maybe around hour 10 of intense contractions with no relief, I was panicked. My husband was panicked. It was like this cloud of pain and fear was resting on me. So we opted for an epidural (something I did not want but I was desperate for some rest). Mid-procedure, I had a full blown panic attack, but the thing with getting an epidural is that you need to be super still and all the while I was contracting hard and straight up freaking out. I’m not going to lie, I had totally let fear consume me.
Then in the midst of a sharp downward spiral, it dawned on me that I was a christian and that I have access to call on the creator of all Things at any time and any moment! And through the cloud of fear came a faint voice of my mother in law: “I would breathe in and out the name of Jesus”. I was certainly not breathing calmly, so I prayed the only thing I could think of as I was hunched over with a giant needle in my back trying my hardest to bring my boy into the world. All I said was “Jesus, can you sit with me?”
That's it, I just asked Him to sit next to me. I remember saying to God, I don't need to hear your voice or see your face, I just need you to sit with me. And I tell you the truth friends, I felt the bed next to me compress, I felt the bed sink down because He was sitting next to me. I felt his arms around me. And I knew it was Jesus because the only person behind me was the doctor administering the epidural and I was the only one sitting on that hospital bed. An incredible wave of warmth and peace and power and knowledge that the savior of the world came to sit with me when I needed him the most washed over me. It’s wild. It’s unbelievable really. It was instant capital P, Peace.
I’ve been a christian my whole life but have never experienced the tangible presence of God like this before. I would sit in church listening to sermons or retreats and hear of these amazing God-encounters of people could hear, see, and feel Jesus. That had never ever happened to me, until I was in one of my darkest, scariest, fear-running-wild moments. Jesus came and sat next to me. I felt him there. All I had to do was ask him to come and he did.
If there is an area of your life that feels like ‘a dark place’, ask Jesus to come and sit with you in that today. If not, pray for a friend or family member to experience the tangible presence of God in the midst of their circumstances.