Waiting for Emily

By Carolyn Brock

(This article first appeared in the December 1986 Africa Herald Magazine.)

One year ago I was waiting; I was full of energy waiting to break forth, full of life waiting to be born. I was waiting for Emily. I didn’t know at the time, however, that I was waiting for Emily. The baby kicking and hiccupping inside me was an unknown life, a mystery yet to be encountered. And it was perhaps because Emily had not yet been revealed to me that I felt so excited about her coming.

To feel something growing inside me, transforming my body, changing my emotions, creating new meanings for my life… this had been the process going on for many months. Now it was reaching a peak, and the awareness that this new person was actually alive and real, though inside of me, was very intense. I wanted to open myself up and see who was there (I actually dreamed about doing that one night).

One thing was becoming dramatically clear– a monumental change was about to take place. There would be no going back to a pre-Emily state. From now on she would be part of everything I experienced and chose. We were committed to share life together and be bound to each other forever. This was a rather terrifying thought at times when I realized the quality of life I would like to offer my child, the quality of person I would like to be for her so she could grow up whole and holy. Was I really ready to be a mother? Was I ready to be the grace and love of God to a child given me by the divine Parent? Waiting, I asked myself these questions and tried to prepare my heart.

As I reflect on these feelings, a year later, I realized I was not ready to receive Emily with the purity of heart with which all babies deserve to be greeted. But she came anyway. She came into the midst of my weakness, came and humbled me to tears with her beauty, came and challenged my selfishness with her need for nurturing. Emily didn’t wait until I was the perfect mother before she arrived on the scene. She had to enter my life and begin happening to me every day before I could understand how to be her mother.

Is it not just this way with the coming of Jesus? So often we feel we are waiting for him to become more real in our lives. We long to see and touch him in more tangible ways. We long to feel him growing and living inside our very beings. We long to give birth to him so his goodness can be visible to our eyes. And yet when we realize the holiness demanded of us as bearers and birthers of the Son of God, we suddenly meet our total unworthiness and unpreparedness.

Babies don’t wait for parents to become perfect before entering their lives. And Jesus doesn’t wait for us to become perfect before he asks to be carried by us into the dark places of our world. In moments when we feel most unready and most unworthy he enters our hearts, surprises us with his energizing presence, humbles us with the beauty of his love, and transforms our selfishness into service through a gracious vision of those who need his care.

There is really no going back to a pre-Jesus state once we have felt his life pulsing within us. There is no disconnecting the cord of commitment without forsaking the persons we had hoped to become through the flowering of his love in our souls. We are forever bound to him once we have invited him to take up residence in our hearts. He keeps living in us, growing, moving, revolutionizing the very fiber of our beings.

This is what we open ourselves up to anew each Advent season. This is the time of waiting, the time of preparing, the time of expectancy. Into our imperfect hearts Jesus enters, bringing newness of life, freshness of hope. Let us wait for the miracle of his coming with joy!

Spiritual Practice:

When have you experienced the sacred within even when you felt less than perfect? How are you invited to be a bearer of God this season even if you don’t feel totally prepared?

“She had to enter my life and begin happening to me every day before I could understand how to be her mother.” Rest in the assurance that preparation happens along the way.

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