I smiled at him from my spot on the futon as he walked through the door and set his keys on the table before coming over to kiss my forehead. From its perch on an old train table, our garage sale television played the theme song of The Office, signaling the beginning of our nightly wind-down routine. We were newly married, we were broke, and the forecast was unchanging, as far as we could see. Family, however, had opened their shed doors to us and happily passed down their old furniture – a train table, a futon, used Christmas decorations.
Connor lifted my feet onto his lap. They had started to swell, a side effect of standing in the classroom all day. Teaching was stressful. A job market that was only offering my husband a part-time retail job was stressful. We knew we should have waited to get pregnant. We even told some people the baby was a surprise. It felt like what was socially appropriate. But, when our front door closed and we caught each others eyes, there was such a fullness there. We were having our baby.
My husband’s musician hands were strong from years of piano, drum, and guitar practice. I was grateful, like I am when he fills our small apartment with music, for his hands as they rubbed the stress and pain up and out of my tired feet.
“I tried writing him a song today,” he said slowly, nodding towards the baby boy held safely in my round belly.
My heart skipped a happy beat as I paused the show and sat up straighter, “Can I hear it?” He set my feet down and brought his guitar in from the other room. A soft melody and his familiar tenor voice filled our little living room as he sang.
Your mother and I had been praying so long,
Then along came our soldier – our strong little one,
Found rest from our wandering, from love came our son.
Unsure of our future, our home, our careers,
Still all we can think of is having you here.
Fear thou not,
Fear thou not,
My right hand will hold you
Fear thou not
His reference to Isaiah 41:10 brought tears to my eyes. We had no idea what we were doing, having this baby. While our hearts were eager and overjoyed, we were also afraid. This was new territory we were entering into. We knew nothing, save where we’d been and where our feet were then.
When we said “I do,” our love grew roots. When we moved into our apartment with the hand-me-down Christmas ornaments and train table those roots started to reach out, spreading underground. When we saw two pink lines, those roots got thicker and spread wider, anchoring the love that was growing one person taller. Watching love grow, feeling the weight of all these new things, I wondered about our future. Were the roots strong enough for what was to come? Were we growing too fast; would our roots starve or hit rocks?
Surely. Surely, they would. Fertile ground is not abundant. Lack, though, lack is abundant. Rocks are abundant. We had learned this already. Earlier that evening, we had eaten Top Ramen for dinner for the third time that week. We had checked in on a bank account that was flirting with negatives.
It was also clear though, that we were not in this alone. Someone was tending to our roots, watering where there was dryness and digging out rocks as they came. When we turned our faces upward to see where the help came from, I had heard it, and Connor had too:
Fear thou not.
My right hand will hold you, fear thou not.
Connor squeezed my knee when he finished and my heart felt full and heavy with the goodness, even in our uncertainty. And that’s the thing about roots – gathering strength from the sun, strength from above – the strong ones decide to keep growing, no matter what they hit.