The Breadth of Life
Last week was an odd one, particularly February 1. It was my baby’s birthday. Yay, right? I was so thankful to God for blessing my sweet baby girl (sometimes sour… she’s a sour patch kid 😊) with another year. Initially, I wanted to spend the entire day with her or at least half the day. But February 1 was also the first day of my new promotional position at work.
I didn’t think it would look good to miss half the day on my first day. So, I decided to celebrate her special day on the weekend. But I’ll admit. I wasn’t happy about it. I wanted to be with my baby at the exact time that she came into this world. Yet, it appeared it wasn’t meant to be… or so I thought.
On the morning of February 1, I dolled my baby up in her pink, white, and gold birthday dress, styled her hair in two curly puff balls, and headed out the door with cupcakes and chips to be shared with the other children at daycare. I was confident that though mommy wasn’t going to be there, she’d have a great time celebrating her day amongst children her age.
So, I start the day with optimism…
Until I ran into terrible traffic not even 10 minutes up the road from my house. Frustration settled in as one minute turned into five minutes, and five minutes into ten. I anxiously watched the clock and said out loud, “God, I know you’re not going to let this happen today. Out of all the days to be late, why today, Lord? You’ve got to be joking, right?”
God knows He is the only reason I even took the promotional position. I’ve learned to pray about making decisions in my life. I want, I need, God to approve all my steps. For so long, I said within myself and to others that I just didn’t want the position. When other people asked or even offered the position to me, I would say I wasn’t interested or made excuses.
But then I started to think. What does God say about it? True, maybe I don’t want it. But what if God wants me to have it? So, I prayed on it, and you wouldn’t believe how I was listening to the radio and this guy literally said, “Maybe you need to take that position at work. Maybe you don’t want it but maybe you need to take it.” Or how a lady on YouTube said the exact same thing the guy on the radio said.
So, against my initial desires, I took the position. And that’s why I was particularly peeved at the traffic. I was doing what God wanted me to do by taking the position, and at that moment, I was running late. FYI, I left in enough time, but the traffic was just that stagnant! I couldn’t understand why God wouldn’t clear the traffic for me since this was what He wanted.
As I’m sitting there in traffic beyond irritated and questioning God’s angle, I get a phone call from my brother. He was hesitant in speaking. Stumbling over his words. I knew it was bad news. I thought about the missed call I had from my mom. I assumed she was calling to say Happy Birthday to my baby. I knew then that she was calling to give me this news.
“Auntie passed away,” he said.
I knew that was what he was struggling to say. I just didn’t want to hear him confirm it. Still stuck in traffic, I cried miserably. I was praying so hard for her. I wanted to see a miracle. She was in the hospital…in and out of sickness for years. And I just wanted to see her fully restored.
The night before February 1, I conversed with God. I told God I had never witnessed a jaw-dropping miracle. I told God I wanted to see Him perform a crazy miracle by restoring her health. But this isn’t the first time I’ve asked God for a miracle and was let down.
When I was 13 years old, we received a call that my grandmother was sick and that it didn’t look as if she was going to make it. On the way to my grandma’s house, I prayed. I wanted God to keep her here. But God didn’t perform the miracle I asked for. My grandmother passed away that same night.
Last year in February, another one of my aunts was sick. It looked bleak. So, I prayed. I asked God to fully restore her. I was on stand-by, waiting for a miracle. But she died. Once again, I didn’t get to see the miracle that I prayed for.
Roughly a month later, I discovered I was pregnant. But my baby wasn’t developing properly. So, I prayed. I asked God to keep my baby. I even thought God promised me that my baby was going to make it. But my baby didn’t make it. I miscarried.
And here we are again. A year later in February. Another auntie. Another time where the situation looked bleak. So, I prayed. Waiting for a miracle. But yet again, God didn’t deliver how I expected or wanted Him to. I had to miss work that day. I was far too emotionally and spiritually distraught to work.
I can’t tell you how, but the night before she passed, I had an odd inkling, a strange notion, that she might pass on my baby’s birthday. I don’t know where that hunch came from. But it was there. That’s why I prayed so hard for her. That’s why I asked God to let me see a full out miracle. Yet, God’s will was not what I prayed.
I proceeded to drop my daughter off to daycare. I needed a little time to grieve without being mommy. So, I went home and wept some more. I then slept from the exhaustion. When I woke up, I decided to go get my child from daycare. Afterall, it was still her birthday. It was still a day worth celebrating.
And that’s why it was such an odd day. Because in that day, I felt the breadth of life. I felt both elation and misery in the same day. I cried bitterly at the top of the morning and sang happy birthday with joy by evening.
It was odd to have such a vast range of emotions within a short twelve-hour span. But isn’t that life? Where one person is mourning, another person is joyful. On the same day someone is born, someone else is dying.
The only reason February 1 was odd for me is because we don’t typically experience highs and lows simultaneously. But in reality, there was nothing odd about February 1 at all. Life happened on February 1. Life as it has always happened, happened. There is, as the Bible says, a time for everything under the sun.
To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance
(Ecclesiastes 3:1-4 KJV)
The breadth of life includes all seasons. Happiness, sorrow, sickness, good health, love, hate … it’s all inclusive. No one is exempt from life nor the valleys and mountaintops that comes with it. So, what do we do with it? How do we handle this thing called life and the breadth it includes?
Everyone has their own way to navigate life. Some choose living life to the fullest by living out loud … some even opt to live riotously. Some indulge in escapism via drugs, alcohol, or other unhealthy habits. Some seek spiritual guidance from the stars, mediums, or numbers. Others seek God through religious beliefs such as Judaism, Islam, or Buddhism. Some seek love, be it from a spouse, friend, or child to cope with life. Sadly, some choose to lash out at others due to their internal trauma. Others even opt for suicide.
But as a sold-out ambassador of God, I opt for one thing and one thing only. As Christ said to Martha in Luke 10:41-42 “Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful”. That one needful thing is sitting at the foot of Christ and soaking in His divinity and guidance.
When the breadth of life overwhelms you, be it good or bad, sit at the foot of Jesus. In Christ, despite my heartache, I find strength to move on even when I don’t want to. In Christ, I can find extreme joy in celebrating beautiful moments that make life sweet. When we quote Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” that’s what Paul was talking about. Through Christ, we can endure the breadth of life. Whether up or down, happy or sad, mourning or joyful, we can do all things.
I’ll leave you with this. I told you that I asked God to perform a miracle for me because I had never seen one. I realized how that was a complete and utter lie. I recalled how miraculous it was to have life growing inside of me. I thought about how time stood still when they pulled my baby girl from the birth canal, how I just stared at her in complete shock.
I thought about how I cried uncontrollable tears of joy when they placed her in my arms. I remembered how I fed her from my body, how God literally created my body with the capability to feed my beautiful miracle with yet another miracle. I mean, seriously... breastmilk is literally food for infants that is built within the women that carry them.
I witnessed firsthand through my very own body a crazy miracle, three times over (carrying her in my body, delivering her from my body, and feeding her from my body). Yet I told God I had never seen a miracle.
So, please hear me. If you think you have never witnessed a miracle, go look in the mirror. You are a miracle. The way God brings forth life, no matter how many billions of times it has occurred, it is nothing short of a miracle. God performs miracles every day whether we acknowledge or not.
I won’t hold you any longer. I have spoken my peace. Life ain’t always easy. It can be overwhelming. It’s full of all sorts of celebrations and desolations. But life is also short. It is fleeting and time waits for no one. So, soak up as much of this life as you can. Smell the roses. Revel in the love from family and friends. Eat, drink, and enjoy the fruits of your labor (Ecclesiastes 2:24). But above all, love and serve God while we traverse and persevere the breadth of life.
In loving memory of my twin, my auntie, the beautiful Cathy Robinson. I love you. Rest well.
Quin Arrington's debut book "And Then You Shall Have Good Success: Attaining Good Success God's Way" is available on Amazon in paperback and eBook format. Link to book listed below.