We got a surprise visit from my grandmother the other day. She was in town from Texas for the week, and called us to get together while she was in town. So we set aside a few hours to catch up at my sister’s house.
It was a beautiful summer day in Michigan, so we gathered in the backyard against the garage to hide in the shade while my nieces ran around us on their bikes and scooters.
We exchanged pleasantries, filled each other in on the happenings in our lives. New jobs, new adventures, the usual. I was happy to have this visit because my grandmother wasn’t alone. She brought my cousin along whom I had not seen since she was a baby.
I was in 7th grade when I went to Florida with my grandparents, a few aunts, and some cousins. She was the newest cousin. I remember her being so small and helpless in her car seat. And she wouldn’t stop crying. when they tell the story, my grandparents always insist that I was the only one who could get her to stop cying. But I don’t really remember that part. All I remember was being excited to see a baby.
Now she is 18, a bit quiet, but I could tell she had a lot of things to say. It’s hard getting to know new people, so I didn’t give it much thought. She shared some of the pictures she took during the trip, and engaged in our conversations the best she could. I’m excited for her to come back and stay a bit longer.
The heat was becoming a bit annoying, so we retreated into the house to continue our visit. We stopped in the kitchen to grab some refreshments.
And that’s when it happened.
My grandmother told me she wanted to pray for me.
To give you some background, my grandparents have always been very open with their faith. My grandpa used to say, ‘praise God!’ at least 100 times in one conversation. And it was always honest and pure and with genuine appreciation.
“Hey Grandpa! I got all A’s!” “Well, praise God!”
“Hey Grandpa! I’m getting married!” “Well, praise God!”
That was always something I loved about him. His love for God just poured from him, so much so that he and God were never apart. And everyone knew it.
But there’s also a side to their faith that I’ve never seen anywhere else. Their prayers were always different than any other prayers I’ve heard. They taught us how to pray in tongues one night when their car wouldn’t make it up the hill during one trip. They pray to Jesus for so many things I would never think to pray about. Once I lost my hat on one of our excursions, so they stopped and prayed. “In the name of Jesus I demand this hat be found!” Or something along those lines.
They were always demanding things in prayer in that way. I always was curious about this aspect of their life. We did make it up that hill, and we did eventually find the hat. But does God really care about lost hats? Would God really help someone find a hat? Or could it be that we just retraced our steps? And should you really be demanding things for God? How exactly does that work?
So when my grandmother said she wanted to pray for me, you see, I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into. But before I could even question it, she had already called my cousin over and the three of us were holding hands in the middle of the kitchen with the rest of the family watching. Including my little nieces.
“In the name of Jesus I pray that you REMOVE THE DEVIL from this woman’s empty womb Lord. That you BANISH these demons and fill her womb with a baby she so desperately wants in Jesus’ name.”
I can only imagine the facial expressions I was giving off while she was praying these words. Shock, horror, disgust, embarrassment I’m sure. Or maybe it was just the devil leaving my womb. It could be that.
And in that moment, I felt the need to stick up for myself. To stick up for the women in that room. To stick up for the girls watching, probably with so many questions. And to stick up for God and our faith.
“I want what God wants,” I said in a quiet voice at first. I didn’t want to disrespect my grandmother, but I had to make it clear that this prayer wasn’t for me.
She looked at me. The rest of the room still quiet. One niece hugging my leg, wondering if I was O.K.
“I want what God wants,” I said again. It was the only thing I could bring myself to say in the moment. I couldn’t think straight. I was so filled with emotions that my thoughts wouldn’t come out cohesively.
Stammering to think of the right words for the young audience in the room, and holding onto my little niece, I finally explained, “Everyone is on a different journey. And if my journey doesn’t include having kids of my own, I’m O.K. with that. I’m happy.”
“O.K,” my grandmother said, “I just saw your Facebook and thought you must really be longing for children.”
“No, but I think it’s important to talk openly about pregnancy loss so that others don’t have to suffer through it alone.”
And I left it there.
I wanted to explain to these girls that there’s nothing wrong with me. That I’m not sad. That there is no demon that makes women not have babies. That the devil really hides in envy. He shows his face when you look in the mirror and only see what you are not. When you fail to see everything God made you to be.
The devil hides in expectations of our mothers and grandmothers, what society thinks we should do, how we should act, what our lives should look like.
The devil really wins when we turn our face away from God and toward those feelings of doubt and listen to those voices who make us feel less than. When we ignore God’s voice telling us not to worry. He is in control.
That’s when the devil wins. That’s where the devil resides.
Not in my womb.