I usually write on some theological or scholarly idea. This time, however, I thought I would try something a little different. I thought I might try and do a personal piece, something about my wife and I.
Twelve years ago my wife and I met online in an AOL chatroom (I might be showing my age a bit). She was a country girl living with her momma, and I, well, I was a recovering coke and heroin addict living with my sister in Cincinnati. Nearly every day, for a year, we’d sit in front of our computers and talk. Sometimes, we’d video chat through Yahoo Messanger, sometimes we’d meet in a chat room. Eventually, we met in person and in June of 2004, we moved in together in a little one bedroom apartment in Colerain area of Cincinnati.
At this point, I want to pause a second and give you a little bit of my background. I grew up in a very religious household. As a child, my family attended a Sabbath keeping, legalistic church, known at the time as The World Wide Church of God. This Church was very exclusive and followed strict Biblical rules and regulations. For instance, with the exception of the sacrifices, we still observed every Hebrew Sabbath listed in the book of Leviticus. The legalism and hypocrisy of the church left me frustrated, disillusioned and ill-prepared for life outside of its reality. At age 16, I simply quit attending.
At this point, I began to rebel. Actually, that’s not entirely accurate, a spirit of rebellion had begun to manifest itself long before. Soon, I was out on the streets, no longer living with my father (my mother died of cancer when I was 15), doing my own thing. I began to use drugs and alcohol; although I preferred the drugs over the liquor. My life consisted of one party after another; one sexual encounter after another. I was just another lost person in a sea of lost people needing rescuing.
Fast forward, 10 years. I finally had gotten tired of my lifestyle. I mentioned earlier that I was living with my sister when I met my wife, the reason for this was because I was had decided to give up using. Her house became my fortress of solitude. I cut off all my partying friends. I removed myself from everyone I knew. I found a job working at McDonald’s in Sayler Park. I was sick with chills and insomnia. Every nerve in my body screamed for just one little hit of anything. Coke, heroin, acid, it didn’t matter. Something to take the edge off. This was my state when I met my wife. I was quitting drugs cold-turkey. No rehab, no counseling, no support groups-NOTHING! It was just me and my withdrawals.
Returning to the one bedroom apartment, two months after the woman, who would eventually be my wife, moved in, she got pregnant with my son, Stavon. This was a major turning point in my life. In between my cocaine-fueled frenzies and my heroin induced nods I had spent my time searching the religions for some kind of truth. I had formed a belief system that was a hybrid of everything which I now refer to as “spiritual naturalism.” My life’s mantra became “It is what it is.” There was no improving, no hope, no future. There was just what was in the moment and what was in the moment was out of my control. This worldview sent me into deep depressions, which I struggled to deal without the aid of drugs. However, soon after the discovery of the future arrival of my “Lil’ Monster,” I began to feel a strange urge to return to church.
So I called my dad. From him, I learned that in my absence, Worldwide had transitioned from legalism to being Grace-based. A couple of weeks later, I began to attend the church I had left so long ago. After a couple of months, Pastor Rick Shallenberger baptized me.
Now I told you all that to tell you this: My son was born April 12th, 2005 two months early. My wife, Alisha, slipped on some ice in her fourth month and went into preterm labor. She suffered contractions (taking the drug Breathaine to control them) for four months. On April 11th, she was admitted into the hospital and induced after an ultrasound revealed that Stavon had stopped growing in the womb. For hours, I sat helplessly in the hospital room watching my unborn baby and his mother’s blood pressure drop repeatedly to dangerous levels. Eventually, Stavon was born by cesarean.
Now, my wife’s obstetrician, Dr. Lamb, had warned us that Stavon’s lungs probably would not be fully developed yet. We shouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t make a sound when he comes out. He also told us that Stavon would spend several days in the ICU. Imagine our joyous surprise when he came out screaming. We were able to take him home after a two-day stay, none of which did he spend in the ICU. We had a healthy little boy.
Now, my wife is pregnant with our second child. For the last 8 years, we have been trying to have another baby. We have prayed and begged God on a repeated basis, the answer has always been no. We have suffered the disappointment of irregular menstrual cycles, which always seemed to get our hopes up when it didn’t occur at the appointed time. However, month after month, it eventually made its appearance crashing our exalted hopes.
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Heb. 11:1, NIV). Two years ago, my wife was praying about having another baby. In her prayer, she said, “if you give me another baby what should I name it?” In her mind, she heard, “Not if, but when.” “Okay,” she continued, “what should I name it?” “Grace,” she heard. Our hopes soared. God had finally answered us.
Two long years, we waited. We passed through periods of doubt of whether not God spoke to us. Was her mind merely responding to her deepest desire? We’re we only manifesting on to God what was only her thoughts? Her mom thought she was crazy. My son was going around telling people that he was going to have a sister because God told his mommy? Would God let a little boy be ridiculed?
In August of 2015, my wife again found herself in prayer over her desire for a baby. This time, she simply asked, “when?” The response? “Soon.” Now, I don’t know about you, but I have found that God’s soon and our soon can be wildly different. For God, soon can be another 10 years. Well, this April, I am going to see Grace in the flesh– God’s Grace.