Pity Party

"What we have here," said newly arrived visitor at my hospital bedside, "is a case of chromosome damage." Then with that confident announcement a strange pediatrician turned my world topsy-turvy, plunging me from the heights of joy at my daughter's birth to the underside of misery.

However, he wasn't finished. "She's got all the symptoms: clubbed hands and feet, receding forehead, misshapen ears. We're doing tests to verify it, but I'm afraid these children don't live long. And, oh, yes, they're also severely retarded." Then he was gone.

So there it was. A strange man had examined my daughter, pronounced her doomed, and then he was gone. No warning, no chance to ask questions - nothing!

My mind was a swirl of confusion. What had he said? Was my baby dying? Clubbed hands and feet (whatever that meant!), a receding forehead (did she look like an ape?) Misshapen ears? Did she even look human? Then through it all, I gradually realized the reality that my daughter had birth defects.

Then along with that recognition there came the realization that I gradually identified and would cling to. God not only knew what was going on, but He was in charge. He had a purpose - and a lesson if you will - and His purpose was as perfect as His Person!

However, that reality was only momentary because in my bewilderment I soon forgot that concept as I took off on another mental tangent. For some reason suddenly I decided to become practical. Strangely enough, my first thought was what we'd name her.

My mind was racing. Let's see, though we had already chosen her name perhaps since she was evidently dying maybe we should save that name that for a future healthy baby. So what should we do about this child? I continued my illogical thought line, combined it with an unexplained sense of drama, and abruptly decided that we should name her something symbolic of the situation. I knew there were other cultures or peoples where families gave their children names that had an actual meaning that reflected some aspect of their lives, so it somehow seemed logical to do the same.

Since I had previously made a special study of the meanings of names, I recalled something that could be the answer: the name "Mary Ann." I knew Mary was a form of the Hebrew word for "bitter" and "Ann" was a form of Hannah, which meant, "grace." Mary Ann Adams. "Bitter grace." Yeah, that's it! And it sounded so... so....right and fitting! After all, I'm bitter about having a child with birth defects but still I'll rise above it and graciously condescend to accept her. I've been treated unfairly and victimized, but while I'll accept her the way she is, I'll do it with "bitter grace." (My sudden practicality included many unidentifiable emotions, but one of them was certainly self-pity! What was the current expression? Yeah - I was having a pity party!)

Then among the practical wallowing, came a twinge of reality. Wait a minute! Was this fair? Why should I let my misery foul up a baby's chances to a name we'd especially chosen for her? No matter her condition, she was still our daughter. "Bitter grace"? Oh, c'mon, don't be ridiculous!

No, I decided, she'll have the name we'd picked out and she'll wear it proudly! "Bitter grace"? No way! And with that, I broke up the pity party!

I was nodding my head as if to affirm my choice when I heard a knock at the door. "Mrs. Adams, I'm from the hospital office and we need your baby's name for the birth certificate."

"Her name is Brittany Alicia," I announced and the pity party was over!

After she left I realized - hey, that lady had come in on that that special errand just as I'd reached my decision.

How come such perfect timing?

Maybe...God at work?

Perhaps...but then...Who else?

So what was His purpose? Why Brittany? Gradually I discovered that His intention was to change me to serve Him better, and over the next few months, I saw how He perfectly provided for each step of His purpose. However, the one particular aspect of that provision that I experienced in the first few hours of her life that would continue to amaze me was His perfect timing. I experienced this early with the arrival of the lady at the hospital just as I'd decided on her name, showing me that He had plans for a child named Brittany and He wasn't about to let my "pity party" botch up what He'd planned for us.

His perfect timing and all other aspects of His provision continued all during Brittany's short life. Then as He gradually worked His purposes in my life, I discovered that the Psalmist had summarized it perfectly: "I want you to trust me in your times of trouble so I can rescue you, and you can give me glory." (Psalm 50:15, The Living Bible)

Indeed, as I had "suspicioned" from the first, He did have a purpose and a lesson and what I learned I would ultimately incorporate into all other aspects of my life. And what was the lesson? What did He want to teach me? Simple - if I don't know why something happens, then He does and because He loves me, it can only be for my benefit and His glory.

Anne Adams thepetgame@yahoo.com

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