According to the Pattern
I was pregnant! The bubbling joy I felt and the love already growing for the little unseen person in my womb was difficult to resolve with what I had been told about my own unwanted coming into the world. This child, I silently promised, was going to have a different life, to receive all I’d longed for – to know she was wanted – loved – and planned for. But how could I teach, or show, something I hadn’t experienced or been taught? What made me think I could be any different?
Too often my mind raced back to childhood feelings of inferiority. Like now, when I knew a visit home was near. I was married, for goodness sake, and for today I needed to forget the things that happened when Daddy was away at work. I had to find a way to celebrate. I wanted to get on a hilltop and announce my pregnancy, to rent a billboard and to show that with God’s help I was creating a new someone.
A hurried walk to a nearby department store sadly revealed that there were not patterns for 85# women who still wore pre-teen clothing, so I bought the only maternity outfit sale-priced – a size 18. I lay the jacket and open-holed tie-in-front skirt on the dining room table to cut off the side and back seams. Next I trimmed and shaped each piece until the shoulders and hips matched those on a favorite pattern, and then I sewed it all back together.
Ken, the hero I’d met the previous September, was wide-eyed when he returned home after third shift, to see his still awake wife parading in the remodeled maternity outfit, and excited to share every detail of it’s transformation. By the time I’d talked him to sleep he’d also agreed that even though I wasn’t ‘showing’ I could share our good news by wearing the outfit that weekend as we headed to my childhood home for a wedding and a county fair. I could hardly wait to tell my Dad, but he was at work in the woods and it was Mom who trotted toward us, madder than a hornet, as we entered the fairgrounds.
What on earth are you wearing? She shouted, pulling out the front of the maternity top – How dare you. There’s nothing under there yet. Or is there . . . she insinuated.
I’m pregnant, I acknowledged proudly, and stubbornly. I’m due in January, I added, knowing she’d already calculated the 9th month from our wedding.
Red-faced, she dragged me from woman to woman, announcing, She’s so excited, she wore this before she even began to show. I barely heard others kind words and quickly made an escape, the warning that I had better wear different clothes to the wedding or ruin my sister’s special day ringing in my ears. Suddenly I felt eleven again, reliving constant cruel accusations that drove me to attempt suicide, and being reminded for years after that I couldn’t even do that right.
It was dark and Ken was already asleep when Dad drove in from work and spotted me on the porch. We wandered in the big yard while he gave me a chance to unload my frustration, and to admit that I was too quick to believe the worst, to react instead of respond, and to worry how I would raise my child.
Tell me about the outfit you made, he requested. Surprised, I gave a one-minute overview, while he looked up at the stars, his cigarette glowing in the darkness. So you knew what it would be before you started, right? And then you took it all apart?
Well, yes, I just, you know, cut each piece down to fit me.
How’d you know to do that?
Well, I learned in Home Ec how to tear out and put things back together. And I learned how to make a pattern for something.
Yes, the pattern, he answered thoughtfully, and then gestured over his shoulder at the truck heaped with logs.
Do you remember when you were little – talking about the load of logs?
You mean when I wondered how you could get them so high?
Um hmm. And why did that surprise you?
Well, because of all the knots and bumps on the logs…when I tried to stack them it seemed impossible.
Remembering the picture of Daddy on the top of the truck instructing my brothers with the pick to move or flip this or that log until they slid into place one atop the other, I gasped.
You remember? He’d asked, already knowing the answer.
Yes. You said you saw a pattern and you knew which ones to move to make it come together.
Silently he continued to gaze up into the night sky, and then pointed. And do you think there was a pattern for those?
Startled, I looked up.
I don’t know. I’m not sure if God just said let it be and there it was.
And…. I stammered, while connecting the dots in my mind. And… He saw a pattern before He made the stars?
Very good, and what about you? he pushed.
Me? What about me?
Who made your pattern?
My pattern? Why, uh, God I guess.
I guess, he responded sardonically. So. Let’s see – the logs on the truck. That pattern was…
Good, I supplied, seeing where he was going.
And the stars?
Good, I whispered as a tear made its way down my face.
Better than good, he said – dragging out the syllables like Andy of Mayberry – go-oo-d!
I smiled at the imitation. Then his cigarette arced as he tossed it to the dirt. He wrapped me in his arms, kissed my hair and whispered, no matter what happens, no matter what anybody says, it may hurt, and it may take awhile, but know this, if it’s His pattern, it’s gonna be good.
Thanks, Daddy I whispered as we headed back into the house.
Looking over his shoulder, he opened the porch door for me. He seemed to be inhaling strength as he glanced upward again and then gave me a side-hug. Keep looking up, he whispered conspiratorially, it’s gonna be good.
Psalm 139 -Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
you formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation! You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body. You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you; the days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day.
Daddy was right. Life is good. It’s especially good when you can finally see the pattern.