In English, the word faithfulness means—lasting loyalty and trustworthiness in relationships. The fact or quality of being true to one’s word or commitments. Being dedicated and steadfast in performing one’s duty.
The Hebrew word “Emuna” is translated faithfulness in the Old Testament. It is a feminine noun meaning firmness, steadiness, fidelity, and trust. It is sometimes translated at truth as well.
One of my all-time favorite contemporary Christian songs is “Your Love, Oh Lord,” by Third Day. This song is from Psalm 36:5, “Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.”
God’s faithfulness is immeasurable. Here is a very personal testimony of the faithfulness of God in my own life. (Warning: the following is very vulnerable and a bit long!)
When I married my wonderful husband Burt, I gained 2 beautiful stepsons. We felt our family of 4 was perfect and complete. About a year into our new marriage, we learned that I was pregnant. I was devastated. I did not want a baby. Life was just fine the way it was and I did not want anything to change.
I was terribly, physically ill the entire pregnancy and never felt like myself. I knew I was struggling with depression, but no one knew how to help me. I was familiar with post-partum depression, but not perinatal depression. I felt like I was living in someone else’s mind and body. I couldn’t even entertain the thought of actually having a baby. I couldn’t buy clothes or register for gifts or decorate a nursery. I truly just tried to make it through the day.
Meanwhile, my community and friends would say, “Oh you must be so excited! After so many years of not having a baby, it has finally happened!” All I could do was politely smile, when inside I was feeling, “No, I never wanted this and I don’t want this baby at all.” I had a glimmer of hope thinking maybe I was having a girl. That could be fun, right? I even said to my mom and sister, “I don’t know what I’ll do if this baby is a boy. I can’t have another boy in my life.” Sure enough, the baby was a boy. After the ultrasound appointment, I sat in the parking lot and ugly cried.
Every doctor’s appointment that followed I cried through because I was so miserable. At 23 weeks I felt like I was losing my mind. I had serious thoughts of hurting myself and hurting our baby. I shared my reality with my husband that evening, “Honey, I’m not well and I need help.” He had been amazing the entire journey by listening to me, applauding my self-awareness and ability to articulate my feelings. He said he was so proud of me for being honest, that I wasn’t alone and that we’d find help together. I found a program online for perinatal and postpartum mood disorders and voluntarily checked myself into the mental health hospital. I spent 5 days in program. When I left I had gotten to a place of neutrality. I wasn’t excited about the baby, but I did not want to hurt myself or the baby.
Cohen Thomas came 5 weeks early and labor was very fast. I remember the nurse saying, “He’ll be here soon! Aren’t you excited?” I remember thinking, “No, but just get him out of me.” He was born and they put him on me and I felt nothing. No immediate bond, no rush of love, nothing. Everyone told me I’d feel something! Why am I not feeling anything?
Then the doctor said, “Has anyone talked to you about your baby having Down’s syndrome?” No one had talked to us about Down Syndrome. In fact, my OBGYN specifically mentioned that there were no DNA markers for Down Syndrome.
I immediately thought, What?! I’m having a baby, (I don’t want), a baby boy (I don’t want), and now a baby with special needs?! I don’t want this!
Cohen wasn’t breathing on his own so they immediately took him and put him on a CPAP. I remember thinking; that maybe it would be better if he just died. Once he was breathing in his own they said we could have 15 mins with him before they took him to the NICU. So Burt and I sat in silence holding Cohen for 15 minutes, tears rolling down our cheeks, but not making a sound.
I remember thinking, “Just take him. I don’t want him on me,” but I felt like that would look and sound bad, and perhaps they’d make me readmit to the mental hospital. After 15 minutes they took Cohen and as soon as the door shut and Burt and I were alone, we burst into tears. He fell to his knees on the side of my bed and said, “Do you see it? Do you see the Down Syndrome?” I could hardly breathe but I nodded yes. I don’t remember much else except crying so hard and saying, “But our story of redemption as been so perfect. Why this? How could God give us this?” I didn’t see Cohen the rest of the day. I didn’t want to see him. He was in the NICU. We only allowed immediate family to come and they sat in silence with us.
Burt stayed with me until 11:00 pm and we both decided we’d sleep better if he went home and didn’t stay in my hospital room. I went to bed thinking how unreal this all was and I just wanted to sleep so that I didn’t have to think about our current reality for at least 8 hours. Burt went home by himself and ugly cried. He said he knew that eventually, I would love Cohen, but he didn’t know how long it would take and he was concerned about my own mental health. He figured he’d have to be both Mom and Dad for a while until I was healthy enough to care for Cohen and not hurt either one of us.
As I went to sleep I begged the Lord, “Please God, please. You HAVE to give me love for this little boy. I have nothing. You HAVE to do this. I need to FEEL love for him. You have to do this! Please, Lord!”
When I woke up the next morning, and it was GONE.
The not wanting him–gone.
The feeling of not being able to do this–gone.
All of it–gone.
I texted Burt and said, “How soon can you get here? I can’t wait to see our little boy!” He said he started crying because he knew I was going to be ok at that point and he immediately came to the hospital.
Ever since then, all I have felt is love for this amazing little boy. He is unbelievable. I can’t believe that God chose me to be his Mommy. Not only would I not trade Cohen for a “typical” baby, I love that he has Down syndrome. Cohen having Down syndrome is such a gift to our family. We can’t out-love this little boy.
Friends, God is faithful. Even when we have nothing—God’s love reaches to the heavens and God’s faithfulness reaches to the skies! God has always been faithful to me, and I know God will always be faithful to you as well!