Living in Expectation

I found out I was pregnant in mid-summer. My husband and I weren’t exactly planning to have a baby. Like most couples, we’d discussed the possibility and we decided we’d be okay with it if it happened. But there’s a big difference between talking about a hypothetical baby and preparing for a real one.

I knew by that point, too, that there was a distinct possibility this magazine, and my job of eight years, would be coming to an end in the not-too-distant future. Even knowing it could be coming, and knowing as fall approached that it was likely, when the decisions were finally made and it all became real it still came as a shock. Among ourselves we talked about the news story announcing the end of the magazine as “the Record obituary” because it felt like that.

I know the news caught a lot of people by surprise. We so often assume the things we’re accustomed to in the church will endure forever, despite what we might know intellectually about declines in income or attendance. We don’t like to face the facts without veiling them with optimism, or downplaying the relative importance of dollars in the Kingdom of God. But in the church as in life, many of the things we take for granted will one day be gone.

Sometimes it’s not a matter of whether something will come to an end one day, but how we choose to let it go. As hard as it is to say goodbye to this magazine, I’m glad it’s still something we can be proud of. I know we’ve done our best. I know I’ll miss it.

And so I find myself preparing both for a death, in a way, of something that I have nursed with my mind and my energy and with the companionship of my amazing colleagues, and for the birth of a new life that is growing inside me. I’ll nourish him or her with my body, and my husband and I hope with our minds and our energy—although I understand both of those things feel like they’re in short supply once a newborn is on the scene.

Because of the way the timing has worked out, I’ve found myself having to give people both pieces of news at once—we’re having a baby, and the magazine is coming to an end. It leaves a bittersweet note.

I say “I’m expecting,” and everyone knows exactly what I mean. The idea of expectation alone is synonymous with news of a new life.

So I’m expecting. I’m watching my belly grow, and I’m thinking about how I will make space in my apartment and my life for this new baby. I imagine God’s hands knitting a child together in the shelter of my ribs. I get to keep that child close for a while yet. This is expected to be a March baby. And when my son or daughter arrives, we’ll get to show them so many things for the very first time. I can’t imagine anything more like a new start.

I don’t know what the future holds for my career. I pray that God has something in mind for me. I’ll do my best to look for it. I suppose in this way, too, I’m expecting.

I’ve been turning to the first chapter of Luke a lot lately. I’ve always admired Mary’s response to the news that she, a then unwed girl from an obscure village, would be the mother of the Messiah: “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” I wonder if she doubted her mothering skills, or if she was able to trust that God saw in her a potential she didn’t see in herself. I can’t imagine she saw the future unrolling before her full of clear plans and goals. She must have been going on trust, too.

I’m taking it one day at a time. I’m making plans, knowing I may need to abandon them if God has other ideas. I’m grateful for what I have, and for the time I’ve been able to work in this small corner of the vast kingdom. I know there’s still kingdom work for me to do. And I pray daily for the new person my husband and I will be bringing into the world. I hope they, and the man or woman they grow to become, will be a blessing to others and will help make this world a little more beautiful for having been a part of it.

Although this publication may be coming to an end, its work, as with all kingdom work, is best when it’s seen in the lives of people. I hope its stories have inspired, and troubled, and encouraged you. And I pray the same things for you as I do for my baby: may you make the world a little more beautiful, more full of grace, more restless for justice. I hope this world will look a little more like heaven because you have been a part of it.

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About Connie Wardle

Connie Wardle is the Presbyterian Record's senior writer and online editor.