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Faith and the Pang of Childbirth

By Daniel out of the Lion's Den ~

I’m an engineer. A big part of my job is analyzing data. Data is known. A product has been tested and measured, creating the data. If you want to know how a product will perform, you simply look at the data. But what if you want to know how the product will perform beyond the confines of the existing data? No problem, you use numerical methods to extrapolate. Sure, it’s a fancy term for guessing, but with experience and proper tools, you get pretty good at it. Sometimes you have to extrapolate far beyond the confines of existing data. You know it’s a bigger guess, and the answer has increased uncertainty. But you convince yourself that you are an expert. You have the answer that no one else can come up with. You are right, and no one can tell you otherwise.

In my last testimonial, Out of the Lion’s Den and Into the Fiery Furnace, I introduced you to Brother Enrique. One of Brother Enrique’s teachings of faith was that God is the Great Physician. Medical doctors and nurses existed because of lack of faith. Sure, they come in handy if you have a broken bone that needs setting, although you could even do that yourself. But when it came to disease and illness, the onset of which was caused by your sin, you need only to pray for healing. What? That didn’t work? Then you have a faith problem. So to demonstrate faith, no doctors. No doctors for infections – bacterial, viral, or otherwise – and certainly no doctors for something as natural as childbirth. And he proved it. While still in the Army, his wife had their first child at home, with no pre-natal care. Midwives may have been okay, but he didn’t even use them. Then the second child came, while at the commune in the middle of the Mohave desert. Again, no pre-natal care or doctor. Although this time a 20-something young woman who had joined the fellowship was there to lend a helping hand. So, two healthy children were proof that Brother Enrique had faith that rivaled the Apostle Paul.

It wasn’t long before I became smitten with the young woman, and she became my wife. We were on top of the world, an Adam and Eve who were made for each other, a union consecrated by God. To some extent, I still believe that today, and we’re approaching our 30th year of marriage and love each other more now than ever. Back to the desert - we lived communally with the people of God and shared all things in common. But this real life Book of Acts did not have a fairy tale ending. During our engagement, we both began to see that Brother Enrique was a narcissistic power-hungry scoundrel. It was then that my betrothed revealed to me that he had every intention of making her his concubine. After all, he told her, “Even King David had concubines.” Fortunately, she had the will to resist when he came into her bedroom one night. This bit of news was what I needed to make our exodus, and we were free from “King Enrique”.

Now, to sort out true Christianity from the Enrique distortion. Now, we were the vessels of honor. We were the elect, the ones who were ordained by The Creator to show the world how great our faith was. Just because Brother Enrique used the bible to instill fear and manipulate his flock, didn’t mean everything he taught from scripture should be thrown out the window. We were commissioned to demonstrate a faith that was equal to or greater than that of the scoundrel. So when nature took it’s course, and Adam knew Eve, we certainly did not consider going to some godless physician. All we needed to do was to remain bathed in prayer, and our faith would keep my wife and the baby safe and healthy. Being poor and without medical insurance aided this mindset.

During the next 9 months, we moved back to my Midwest hometown and joined a local Calvinist church. We talked about our faith to our new friends and family about how God would reward our faithfulness with a healthy child and keep my wife safe through the birth. There would be no need for a doctor when you personally knew the Great Physician. And I, being Daniel the Faithful, would deliver the child. What? Read a book about childbirth? What for? The baby would come no matter what. Get medical attention? What for? She’s not sick! Have a midwife? How would that help? Animals give birth all the time in the wild with no help. Why should a human be any different?

The time came. The water broke. What did that mean? Contractions. How far apart were they? What does that mean anyway? Pain. God is in control. Noises. Screaming. How far apart are the contractions now? What does that mean? This is going on for hours. It’s the middle of the night. I haven’t slept in almost 24 hours! Pain. Screaming. Noises I have never heard before. God is in control! Should I tell her to push? Wait. I think I see something! It’s the baby’s head! A couple more pushes… IT’S A GIRL! Wah! Wah! Wah! She was crying, and I didn’t have to even slap her! We cleaned her up and she looked beautiful. Everything was alright. God was in control. Now, the placenta. Push some more, it’s supposed to come out. 10 minutes pass. Should it have come out by now? Push some more. 20 minutes, no placenta. Push. 25 minutes. Wait, I see something. What does a placenta look like? Wait.. It’s a baby’s head! We are having twins! Push some more… out comes another baby girl! But wait… this one isn’t crying. And her color is blueish. Try slapping her bottom… try rubbing her… try breathing into her mouth… it’s been 5 minutes. 10 minutes. She’s not going to breath. She’s dead.

What went wrong? Didn’t I have enough faith? Didn’t I pray enough? Didn’t I demonstrate how faithful I was to both Christians and unbelievers? Wasn’t my life a living testimony to the Lord of Life? What if I had taken my wife to get pre-natal care? What if we had a doctor? What if we went to a hospital? What if we had a midwife? It was God’s will. It had to be God’s will. God never intended this baby to live outside the womb. “Better is the miscarriage, for it comes in futility and goes into obscurity; and its name is covered in obscurity.” Ah, there you have it. Thank you King Solomon. Now I can live with myself.

That was 29 years ago. I have watched my beautiful daughter take her first steps, say her first word, go to her first day of school, make her first points in a basketball game, be a cheerleader, get her driver’s license, go on her first date, graduate from high school, and move into a college dorm. A few months ago, I walked her down the aisle to her new husband. At each milestone I have thought to myself, what if her twin was alive. WHAT IF HER TWIN WAS FUCKING ALIVE!!! As I type this testimony, it is the first time I cried over my dead baby.

The bible only contains a finite number of words that Jesus spoke, and these words were written by four guys many decades after his death. Yet we are always asked, “What would Jesus do?” or “What would Jesus say about that?” For 30 years, I have pretended to know. But it has only been a guess. I have extrapolated from known data. Sometimes I have to extrapolate far beyond the confines of the existing data. I know it’s a bigger guess, and the answer has increased uncertainty. But I convince myself that I am an expert. I have the answer that no one else can come up with. I am right, and no one can tell me otherwise. And every time I have done so, the result is an unmitigated disaster.