There are four other adults who claim credit for my daughter's conception. Four, that is, besides my husband and I, and besides the doctors and embryologists who ought to get credit. It was 2006, and after seven years of infertility, we were in for an amazing year, bright and strange by turns. After seven years of infertility, we, along with the doctors, were ready to give up on finding a cause, and go for the cure--the big guns, in vitro fertilization.
I have never been an optimist. I had enough years of failure, and putting all that effort, and money, and injected hormones into the effort was painful. Of course I ping-ponged between terrified hope and dull despair. Luckily, we had friends to encourage us.
Sandra had one of her special talks with God, the kind where she says, God listens to her. Her husband David, on the other hand, tried for saying the magic word.
Janine took me to the big appointment, when it happened to fall on a day when Jim couldn't get away. She kept me company until the anesthesia took effect, and drove me home to nap afterward.
And Scott preached a sermon.
Yep, a sermon. It was New Year's Eve, as 2006 was just about to begin, and he was talking about resolutions. I remember him asking "What would you ask of God, if you really believed he would answer you?"
Sitting in the back pew of the Souderton, PA church, it struck me that I didn't believe he would answer. The reason I wasn't seeing a fertility doctor was that I was trying to protect my faith. If I didn't ask, I couldn't be disappointed.
I was convicted. So we made an appointment and got started.
In May we finally had our procedure, and on a summer morning I sat in the same pew, and knew I was pregnant. I realized a miracle had happened in that pew--God had spoken to me. That ordinary space was holy, and I hadn't realized it.
In a couple of days, we're going to have another new year. It's the time when we all sober up from our holiday ferver and remember that calories and budgets exist. When we look back at all we didn't love about the year, and decide what we're going to do about it. Maybe we make new habits, and maybe we end up as members of a gym we don't visit past January.
The problem with resolutions is that they are only resolutions. They don't come with the power to fulfill themselves. Yes, I believe in the human spirit, but I haven't seen a lot of change in my life from a last-minute surge of conviction on New Year's Eve.
Except for that one. That one changed my life.
What if, this year, the miracles didn't come from us? What if having something great ahead wasn't resting on your shoulders? What might God have in mind for you? And most of all, what would you ask for, if you were certain he was listening, and would answer?
My goal today is not to go Pollyanna, (or Joel Osteen) on you, and make believe that God is a vending machine, and that faith is a lever to control your life. I know better, and I'm sure you do, too. God doesn't publish a Christmas Catalog from which we get to pick our new year. But I do believe there's more power, and more hope, than what we generate with our own gritted teeth.
New Year's Eve is a fragile space in the flow of the year. The daylight is scarce, and the world is cold, and the comfort and joy of Christmas are past. Our willpower is out of shape from spending and eating, and our strength is worn down from travel and short sleep. It's a place of weakness, just the right kind of place for miracles. It's a marvelous place to meet God.
So I wish you a happy new year. And I hope for you something better than your resolutions, better than you can make for yourself. This year, I hope you'll think bigger than your own willpower, and ask for the will of God.
For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."