This entry is part 3 of 2 in the series The 49 Character Qualities of Ruth
Discernment vs. Judgment – The God-given ability to understand why things happen (I Samuel 16:7)
Two babies in ten months. Samuel came three weeks early. That was my mother’s introduction to parenting. I’m sure she must’ve been over-whelmed. With my father starting to travel on occasion, I’m sure she was lonely. But she had her church friends and they were quick to prop her up when she needed it. They assured her that feeling lonely was normal, but that she should commit herself to prayer and supporting God’s will. Still, when Samuel was six months old, mom admits that she cried when her doctor called to tell her she was expecting again. This next baby would be the third in as many calender years. How would she tell her mother, my grandmother, that she was pregnant again so soon?
The call was made by my father. My grandfather picked up the extension line at my grandmother’s command. What transpired between my father and my grandparents would begin a decade of bad blood. My grandparents did not approve of their daughter being a brood mare. They’d raised her to be more than that. Three babies, so quickly, was ‘asking for trouble’. Little did they know that this was just the beginning.
They pleaded with my father to “see reason” and maybe “take care of the situation” and give my mother a rest. My grandfather suggested a vasectomy. My father made him aware that that was an unacceptable option. My grandmother asked if they could hire a nanny for my mother. My father said he would pray about it. It turns out a nanny wasn’t part of God’s plan and mom was starting to think she might be able to handle three – especially if the third was a girl.
Mom wanted that girl and she made her wishes known. She prayed for it. She began sewing a layette for a little girl. Pretty pick bows and ruffles, with white eyelet flounces. As the due date came nearer, she made the mistake of telling a friend how desperately she wanted a little girl. That friend chastized her for such a “selfish desire”. This “friend” told my mother that she should give it to God and appreciate any blessing he gave her. When she told my father about this friend’s reaction, she was shocked to find out that my father agreed. This was the first “big fight” of their marriage and it became an ATI mission story. My mother couldn’t believe that her husband thought she was selfish. She couldn’t believe that God would be offended by her desire to have a girl. My father accused her of being petty and not trusting in the Lord.
The story goes that my mother said that she the sex of the child would be the answer. If God gave her a son, she’d know that she’d been ’selfish’. If she had a girl, it would be a sign that God had heard her prayers and honored her. In the story, the husband counsels his wife and carefully admonishes her for not trusting the Lord by giving him a challenge to answer. In reality, my father told my mother that a boy would be proof of his “rightness” and her sign to submit to his judgement. When my brother, the third boy, was born, he looked at my mother and said, “See. God knew what was best for you.”