Life is a paradox of powerful proportions. A grand experiment that cannot be manipulated, managed or predicted.
If this year has confirmed anything to me, it is this single message. At the end of every year I emerge around New Year from the haze of chaos for a moment of reflection. And every year I comment on how chaotic, how unexpected, how contradictory the year has been.
“Why, how surprising!’, I remark to myself, and shake my head at all the unpredictable things that have happened.
Not this year.
This year I was prepared for the chaos and contradiction and unpredictability of it all, after the past few very ‘entertaining’ years.
And, oh, how chaotic and contradictory it was.
On the 24th of February this year we had a Maranatha Staff party, to celebrate the success of the 1st year of operation of the Maranatha Health project in Kamwenge. This party happened to coincide with two very unique occurrences:
The illegally constructed factory next door turned on its machines for the full day (click here and here and here to read more about this disaster!). We discovered on that day the machines were very loud and dirty and would not allow us to continue our work at Maranatha!
I took a pregnancy test and to my delight Michael and I discovered that I was pregnant with our first child. I had a baby growing inside of me!
These two immensely life-changing events shaped our year from that point on.
As the months wore on and it looked less and less like Maranatha Health would re-open for business in the short term, the waves of grief that washed over Michael and I at various times were interspersed with a growing excitement about the new life we would soon bring into this world.
In my life I don’t think I have ever felt such contradicting emotions. Since marrying Michael, Maranatha Health has been like a child to us:
birthed it, in both Australia and Uganda
invested hours of our time, energy and resources into it
dreamed of its future
and had many many late nights agonising, hoping, planning, and working to make sure it flourishes.
Ironically, as this chapter in our lives came to a close, we were discovering the joy of growing a human baby. What an incredible blessing, what saving grace, that we were able to focus our energies on this new life. Perhaps it was God’s way of seeing us through the grief of Maranatha closing.
And now, this much anticipated new life has arrived!
I have a son. David Mandela Findlay.
An adorable, magnificent, inquisitive, cheerful, fascinating little human that is a combination of myself and my husband. And OH MY GOODNESS I LOVE HIM. My heart bursts for him. That all-encompassing, selfless love that parents have for their children –love that is both tender and fierce, love that takes your breath away so you feel as if you are drowning, love that makes you gasp for sanity, as if for air – I am all at once astonished, relieved and in awe of how strongly I feel that love.
Though I have tried, words are completely inadequate in capturing the uniqueness of this new experience – of pregnancy, birth and now motherhood. I have written very little throughout my pregnancy and the first 10 weeks of David’s life, for fear of the incompleteness and inability words have to capture such magic and the mysterious transformation that takes place inside of oneself when you are given the privilege of your own child to love.
The sleep deprived whirlwind of chaos/exhaustion/ shock/ joy has lifted after a very bizarre first few weeks. I am loving the adventure that is involved in getting to know who our little person is. And the most surprising aspect of the experience so far is the fact that I have already forgotten how life was different and how I was different. Motherhood feels to me like a discovery of a part of myself that always existed, a natural extension of who I am that has now been given a chance to BE – a confidence, a courage, a compassion that I now know was always me.
And into the future, as we face the uncomfortable unknown that looms ahead, Michael and I are filled with a new kind of hope, a gentle reminder from our creator that He has made us to do something good, and will show us the next step with time. We have been given an opportunity to begin afresh, but this time as a family, whether that means a fresh start in Kamwenge, or somewhere entirely different.
When my husband proposed to me, he rewrote the entire text of the Dr Suess book ‘The Places You’ll Go’ (my favourite children’s book) for our context (and yes, he is an amazingly romantic man!). My favourite (rewritten) page in the book is below, and it resonates with me more than ever now:
“In Africa or Australia
or some other place,
in a big busy city
or somewhere with space.
With kids or without,
or one on the way,
we’ll continue to shout
and have our say
to convince other people
things are not all ok.”
Whatever the case, we as a family of three are excited to begin splattering some freshly mixed paint on the blank canvas that is our life.
Scary. Surprising. Satisfying.
(and here’s some photos of the journey of Davey so far – I couldn’t resist)