I never thought I would tell anyone about this. It was, after all, a chick flick.
I was home alone when I got the call from my son-in-law that our granddaughter had just been born. She had Downs syndrome. I was stunned. Of course, I worried a bit about labor and delivery, for my daughter and the baby, but never, ever did I think of Downs syndrome.
And there was nothing I could do. We live a thousand miles away. My ticket was purchased to fly out for a post-delivery visit the following week. I could not go to the hospital, I could not change the number of chromosomes in my new grandchild’s DNA, and at that point I couldn’t even talk to my daughter. I was out of control. Perhaps more than I had ever been in my life. I phoned my husband, who was out of town. I called family members and a few close friends. I prayed. But, now what? What was I supposed to do now? It turned out, nothing.
I called for the dog, and curled up on the sofa to watch Maid in Manhattan. Picking up the remote control, I wondered what in the world I was doing. It seemed so crass, perhaps even sacrilegious. How could I be watching a chick flick when my daughter and her family were adjusting to this news? The question shouted out at me as I pushed “Play.”
Then I heard the whisper of the Spirit. “You can’t do anything. I am with them. I am their God. Leave this to me. Enjoy the movie.”
Watching a chick flick became for me, that night, a way of letting go, almost a symbol of letting go of my need to control, understand, and fix. I was resting in God’s care, not so much for me as for my daughter and her family. I could pray, but I could not fix. The creator God was, and would be, present and loving my daughter, my son-in-law and their new baby.
That was over six years ago. Our granddaughter Eden is a sweet, charming little girl. I still, daily, trust God with the care of my children and my grandchildren. I don’t remember much about the movie I saw the night Eden was born, but I do remember that letting go, and letting God love me and love those I love is a very blessed experience.
Has there been a time that you have felt helpless and heard the whisper of the Spirit in comfort? How did you respond?
What are the things that God is asking you to let go of today?
Alice Fryling is a spiritual director and author. Her most recent book is Seeking God Together: An Introduction to Group Spiritual Direction. She teaches Enneagram workshops in the Chicago area with her colleague Jessie Vicha. Alice and her husband Bob have two grown daughters and four grandchildren.