At some point in your life you will do the math and realize that I was pregnant with you before your father and I were married. When that day comes, I know your mind will be brimming with questions. I thought my parents were Christians, and I know that God (and my parents) have told me to wait until I am married, why didn’t they? Did they really love each other or only get married because of me? If I was an accident, does that make me a mistake? Do they regret having me and would they do it over if they could?
When the questions come, I will show you this letter and hopefully bring some clarity and assuage any doubts. My sweet girl, I don’t want you to have to read any further before I say, NO. You absolutely were not a mistake. You were very much a surprise to both your father and I, but that doesn’t mean you were a mistake. I know we have raised you to walk in God’s ways, heed his voice, and to love him with all your strength. And for a time, your dad and I both wavered from this path. I will be honest with you I, especially, have veered off course too many times to count. I have time and time again rebelled, gone my own way, apart from Jesus. I will not hide this fact from you. I am not ashamed of my past. I know that sounds strange, just let me explain. Yes, I have tasted anything and everything the world has to offer, and I can assure you Jesus is much sweeter. More satisfying.
One is not inclined to be very grateful for riches and plenty if he has never known poverty. Likewise, you will not fully understand or appreciate God’s grace and unfailing love until you are deeply acquainted with the depths of your depravity. I saw what I am capable of outside of walking with Jesus, abiding in him. And it is not pretty. This isn’t to say you, or anyone else, should go ahead and live however they want so they can learn to be grateful for God’s grace and love. We are a sinful people, even walking with the Lord and trying our very best to follow his ways, we see that without Him we fail miserably every single day. We will, if we are honest with ourselves, be astonished at how selfish and sinful our hearts truly are. Like how our souls desperately want to be right, or the center of attention. Or how tightly we cling to our “rights”, and our need to be heard. How quickly we become defensive and lash out if we have been wronged. My Pastor (Francis Anfuso) from years ago used to say “The closer I get to the light, the more unimpressed I am with myself.” Please do not make the mistake of thinking holiness is pointless then, that it is of no use, and that you are a sinner and that is all you’ll ever be.
Immaturity should not be confused with rebellion. We are not slaves to sin, who struggle with loving God. We are lovers of God who struggle with sin. I have stubbornly marched down the path of rebellion and I have struggled with being an immature Christian (You will too one day, maybe you already have). The moment your inner battle moves from being a battle against the sin residing in your heart and tips over onto the side of apathy, THAT is where rebellion is born. Immaturity says, I may fall down a million times but I will keep fighting, I will keep getting back up and asking God for his grace daily. Rebellion says, I no longer care to fight this sin, I will just give into it and see where it leads. No matter if it’s an immature, or a cold rebellious heart, Jesus has never once walked away from me. He has chased me down, sought me out my entire life. I trust He is able to keep what I have committed to Him. I trust that he is able to make me new, make me like Him. And I believe if I or anyone else does not end up living out eternity with the King of Kings, it will be no mistake on His part or because He dropped the ball. It will be entirely our own fault, we will be the ones to blame.
The danger of rebellion is not that Jesus will not seek you out no matter how deep you’ve gone, it’s that our hearts might grow cold towards him, no longer caring or wanting Him. And God is above all a gentleman, He will not force himself where he is not wanted, and He will not force your love. So in the end when we stand before our Maker, our whole life plays out before Him and the way we lived shouts the truth from the very deepest recesses of our hearts, whether we want Him or not. Whether we obeyed or not. Whether we loved the way that He loved. In the end it is our decision, and the span of our lifetime has already made that decision for us.
And so this is where I was unhappily trudging along in the midst of rebellion to the only One who had ever really loved me, when I met your father.Now, where your father was at in his walk with God, I cannot say. My best guess would be somewhere in between immaturity and rebellion. I know he was not a fully mature christian at this point, but I also know he was not really trying to love and obey God with all of his strength. Despite this I can honestly say from the moment I met your dad, I was convinced he was the best man I had ever met in my entire life. After two months of dating I knew he was completely selfless, humble, tenderhearted, honest, gentle and loving. And not many days after the two month mark, I discovered I was pregnant. I’ll be honest, I was scared at first. Scared that I wouldn’t be able to provide for you, scared that I didn’t know this man who would soon become the father of my child very well. And terrified that while I wanted you, I wasn’t sure if I wanted him. Honestly, we both very adamantly agreed we would not rush into marriage until we were sure that we really did love each other and wanted to be married. We knew we wanted you to be raised with both parents in your life, but we just didn’t want to marry if we really weren’t right for each other. And in turn hurt you more by fighting and arguing constantly and potentially divorcing all because we rushed into marriage. We both agreed to wait until we were sure marrying each other is what we would have wanted regardless of the date of your birth.
Your dad responded much better then I did through the following months. Actually, he still responds better in trying circumstances. It was through the next 9 months that I discovered exactly the kind of man your father is. It was through seeing him respond so well to having to become a father at 22, catering to me during the parts of the pregnancy that I was extremely sick, and the parts that I was terribly moody. And I still remember his words that brought hopeful encouragement as I tearfully asked if we could do this, really take care of you well, raise you the way I knew we needed to raise you. Thousands of people less qualified then us have done this, I KNOW we can do this, he assured me. It was through you, Madelyn, that God silently drew us back to Him. As soon as we both found out about you we knew we wanted to give you a good, steady home. We knew we wanted to offer you the best possible future, a future filled with hope, and parents that loved and served God.
And I have a secret, I knew you were a girl before you were even born, and before the nurse ever revealed your gender in that little room. And I knew what your name would be. You know how I know you are absolutely without a shadow of a doubt not a mistake or an accident? Because Jesus told me. Yes, you read that right, Jesus. Within a few weeks of finding out I was pregnant, I had a dream. One of the most vivid dreams I have ever had in my entire life. And I have had a lot, it’s one of the ways the Lord speaks clearly to me. In the dream I my belly was much bigger then in reality, and I was rubbing my it protectively. A woman whom I know from back in California,and whom I very much respect, came up to me, layed her hands on my stomach and said Your daughter is not a mistake! As soon as she said that many family and friends gathered around me in celebration and started calling you Madelyn, and congratulating me on your life. I woke up and instantly knew that YOU ARE SPECIAL. That there was indeed a little baby girl in my womb and that I would name you Madelyn. Your dad took a little convincing, but that’s a story for another day. By the way, Madelyn means: High Tower, and From Magdala (or Elegant, Great, Magnificent). And your middle name, Elise, means: My God is a vow. You were a surprise to both your dad and I, but you were planned by God. YOU were his plan for our life, you were always his plan to bring us together, and to lead us back to the One who will always love us and pursue us. I fell in love with your father through the months that I was pregnant with you. I am in love with him still. I will forever fight for our marriage, and he is and always will be the only one I will ever love. We will, I’m sure, go through hard patches (perhaps we already have), but I am committed to your father just as much as I am committed to you as my daughter.
I want you to know that the moment you were born I knew that I would never again love anything in this world as much as I love my children. I thought you were going to change my life, but I was wrong. My life didn’t change, it began. My heart started beating the day you were born. You came into the world and brought meaning and beauty to my life where before, was nothing, just a void.
So please, if you ever start to doubt your existence, and your purpose, just remember this. Before the foundations of the earth were layed, you were a dream that God dreamt and then He wrapped you in skin. He made you for Himself, called you by name and said this one will be mine, and her name will be Madelyn.
I love you forever,