I never was a fan of the chorus, Peace Like a River. But that may be because as a faithful, but easily distracted, Christian teen, I remember mumbling the all too familiar lyrics in church as I scanned the pews for familiar faces. I may have even taken the opportunity to discuss Sunday lunch plans in an obnoxious whisper to my friend sitting beside me. Or I may not have even sung it at all, but instead, thought about everything else I deemed more important at the moment. The music minister always seemed incredibly taken with the song and the tune, but to me, it always seemed rushed, campy, and most of all, irrelevant to my naive, young life.
Spiritually, I may have been young then, but the next few years of life aged my soul as I experienced adventure, marriage, moving to two states, and the blissful day I found out I was pregnant.
I had struggled with the possibility of infertility when two different doctors informed me that I wouldn’t be able to get pregnant naturally. But God decided to show up one day. I shook with disbelief while watching my pregnancy test turn positive. He had done a true miracle in my life. I knew that His purpose for this new little soul, as well as for me her mother, was going to be monumental.
Nine months of sharing my body definitely wasn’t the romantic notion I thought it would be, as morning sickness turned into all-day sickness. And the pregnant woman’s waddle was not just a cute quirk, but a definitive mode of transportation.
However, the moment I saw my daughter after giving birth, I fell in love. My memories of that moment are blurry, like a dream, but I do remember my first look at her tiny, wise face wondering, Had she just come from the presence of God? Her cry was quiet and gentle. Feeling completely in shock, I didn’t even know if I could touch her. All I could think about was that she was finally here.
My brand new baby girl was moved over to the weighing station, and I watched as she flailed about. There was an incredible beauty in her amazing waving limbs and wonderful shaking hands. My husband looked proud as he paused from snapping pictures to tell me that she had his chin. The nurses laughed with us as we discussed her sweetness and perfect ways.
Then our moment was interrupted when a nurse pulled out an oxygen mask and put it on my daughter. I stared at my husband, but he looked calm. I forgot everything as several nurses worked on her tiny body and told my husband that she just wasn’t crying as strongly as she should. I swallowed.
My state of mind suddenly switched out of pure love to a quiet panic. What if there is really something wrong? What if she isn’t healthy? And, down in the depth of my stomach, I thought, what if … she doesn’t make it?
I swallowed again and realized this was one of those moments—one where peace comes into play. I didn’t have time to analyze whether I was going to panic or trust God. I just had to choose to have peace. The river was a raging one, and as it rushed over me, I swallowed again. It was more like a gulp, as if I was trying to force down sour medicine without tasting it. As I did, I let the river fill my lungs and surrendered to my trust in God.
The seconds seemed to tick on slower than hours. The oxygen mask was taken off her tiny face, and an instrument used to pump her stomach was inserted into her mouth. Fluid was removed, and my once gentle and quiet sputtering daughter burst into angry, healthy cries. I breathed again. This time, it was air.
Life fast-forwarded from that moment on, taking me from the time where the two of us were wheeled down to my new hospital room like an unannounced parade of motherhood, to today, where her arms and legs still flail in a determined crawl, finding their way around my small home.
Peace is still something I grasp for everyday, like lost keys in the bottom of my purse. I know it’s there, somewhere, and 2 Peter 1:3 reminds me that, "His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us to His own glory and excellence." Yet, some days my ability to locate it flounders, especially as germs, dangers, and worse yet, other people, still fight to claim some part of my panicky mind as a mother.
Holding onto His promises and clinging to this fruit of the Spirit has become less of an attractive virtue to me, and more of a survival mechanism. Every move my daughter makes, and every milestone she meets, means that she’s closer to exiting my care and entering the scary, broken world. My hope is when she does leave, she’ll go with wisdom, faith, and applicable lessons in her back pocket. I realize now that all the lessons I want to teach her, come down to trusting God and claiming His peace as her own, even through trials I hope she never has to weather.
To other mothers who’ve weathered their storms of worry, I may still look a little like a young Christian teen in church—naive, preoccupied, and most of all, clueless to this new role. But it’s OK, because at the end of the day I rock my daughter in my arms, smile at her innocent face, and whisper into her drowsy little girl ears, the lyrics of a song I hope she will understand herself one day: I’ve got peace like a river. I’ve got peace like a river. I’ve got peace like a river in my soul.