When my parents shared with my brother and me that they believed God wanted them to have another child, we both nodded with reverent affirmation. “However God is leading,” we agreed. Once we were out of earshot, however, we laughed our heads off. “What was that about?” was our actual response. Dad and Mom weren’t exactly Abraham and Sarah, but to 16 and 13 year-old boys, they seemed awfully close. We both put the whole ridiculous thing out of our minds.
Until, that is, we came home from school one day to an unusually silent house. The parentals were sitting on the sofa, holding hands, faces full of promise. “Your Daddy has something to tell you,” Mama said quietly. “Can you guess what it is?” he asked. I sat down at the piano and played Brahms’ lullaby. It was our weirdly reserved, upper-middle class manner of coming to terms with inexpressible joy–a baby was on the way.
Having a front-row seat to watch my parents raise a baby was invaluable at 17 and 14. We watched the sonogram revealing that “it” was a “she.” We were part of the naming conversation that landed at “Abigail Elizabeth.” We changed our share of diapers. We heard the footfalls of our exhausted parents down the hallway when baby Abby cried in the wee hours.
But nothing stands out more prominently than a brief moment I happened to catch one afternoon as my Dad held 3 week-old Abby in his recliner. He placed her tiny, left-hand ring finger between his thumb and forefinger and said, “One day a young man will ask me permission to put a ring on this finger.” This time I did not mask my reaction–“Good grief, Dad; isn’t it a bit early for this?”
As it turns out, it was not premature. A godly young man did ask to put a ring on that same finger and on Wednesday, during a study trip in Rome, he did just that. And we needed every bit of those 21 years to prepare for such a moment.
Abby was 18 months old when I left for college, so I observed most of her growing up from a distance. I think this is why I have had a more difficult time than my dad or brother acclimating to the idea of her having a boyfriend, much less a husband. The fact that I accidentally called Sophia “Abby” for the first few years of her life reflects Abby’s place in my heart as my baby sister.
But she is no longer a baby. She is a beautiful, witty, clever, passionate, empathetic grown woman with an authentic love for Jesus Christ. She is a peer. And now she is getting married. Whatever the existential cost of coming to terms with this, I am happy for her, proud of her, and thankful for the privilege of being her brother.