We paced outside the bathroom retracing the other’s steps. Though we didn’t speak, the heavy breathing and tangible tension was enough to warn anyone nearby that now was not the time to wish us a Happy New Year.
What had started as a lighthearted activity to pass the time before we could eat again, now threatened to change our lives forever. My resolution for less drama? #fail.
My friend Jailene had been sick for a couple weeks.
Here’s what you need to know about Jailene: Stunning. Samoan/Australian. Voice of Beyonce. Head as hard as a coconut. Seriously. Punch her in the head and she won’t feel it. I’m sure she won’t mind.
She was the nauseous kind of sick. For a girl who could rival Gaston in an eating competition, she now had trouble keeping down a sparrow’s diet. Figuratively, it’s not like she was actually eating birdseed or anything. The point is, she was weak.
It could’ve been the flu, but that’s super boring, so my friend Kristen and I seeded the thought:
“Are you preggers?!”
“Of course not! That’s ridiculous! And impossible! Shut up! Leave me alone! I’m going to throw up…."
We decided to drop the there’s-possibly-a-child-growing-inside-of-you conversation for that day. After all, angry Samoans are not to be messed with.
Happy New Year!
We woke with slightly sore heads and bags under our eyes, between the beach bonfire and sleeping in a tent, we didn’t get much rest.
We slowly made our way to the local café, slowly sipping our lattes as Jailene ignored her milkshake and sipped her iced water instead. In this small provincial town there wasn’t much to do and since we had already eaten breakfast and second breakfast, we needed to fill the time before it was socially acceptable to start planning lunch… And second lunch.
We brainstormed – beach volleyball, sleeping (clearly my suggestion), and lighting things on fire (clearly the boys suggestion). While we debated, Jailene sat quietly, staring into her iced water.
Kristen, being the polite and soft-spoken girl that she is, interrupted everyone with an abrupt, “Jailene what’s wrong with you?! Have you finally come to grips with the fact that you’re pregnant?! We told you that ages ago! Let’s do a test already… Geez! Also, I’m going to drink your milkshake!”
Like I said, polite and soft-spoken. After a few rounds of peer pressure, she caved.
Note: Don’t send three young girls to a store for a pregnancy test. They’re as discreet as a non-English-speaking tourist asking for directions on a moving freeway. With an elephant. Confusing and unnecessary.
On the way back to camp, the buzz of our caffeinated conversation dulled and the realisation hit us. This was a big deal, whatever the outcome. If she weren’t pregnant, it would confirm the doctor’s negative reports that she might never be.
If she was?
Surely we weren’t old enough to bring new life into the world… We were still trying to figure out our own!
We walked to the bathroom as if smuggling drugs through a parade of police officers and sniffer dogs. We were the example of how not to behave.
As Jailene began to disappear behind the bathroom door Kristen called out, “break a leg!” I think was her way of reassuring Jailene there was nothing to fear… Except a broken leg.
30 seconds passed. Then three minutes. Five minutes. Eight. What could be taking so long? Was she trying to give birth and bring the baby out with her??
Without warning, the door swung open. She stood in the doorway, tears in her eyes and stick in her hand. The moment of truth.
“It’s… It’s positive.”
Hugs. Tears. Squeals. Inaudible congratulations and accidental cuss words, only able to be decoded by true best friends.
Everything had changed.
Life was unpredictable during Jailene’s pregnancy, and yet, eight months later, as unplanned as the discovery of her existence, Avari Noon entered the world. And now? I know her mummy and daddy wouldn’t trade anything in the world for her.
She was unplanned. She is perfect.
Life doesn’t go to plan. We think we know what’s happening. We finally feel like we have it all (or at least somewhat) sorted out. We’ve made the freeway and are on the fast track to success, ready to hit the cruise button and relax.
And then? Speed bump. Out of nowhere. We go flying into the air, bumping our head on the celling and scream for help, doubting that we will make it out alive.
What was the speed bump for you? Perhaps you lost your job. Maybe the love of your life is no longer in your life. Or money is scarce but the bills keep piling up. You or someone who has your heart got a diagnosis without a cure.
Maybe for you it’s that feeling of grief… That feeling that no one really knows how lonely you feel. And you’re tired of fighting it.
What was straightforward now looks like a map of the twirly wurly forest, packed with hidden trolls and secret traps just to trip you. What happened to the freeway and clear road signs?!
I’ve been there. I’ve had speed bumps and unplanned turns. If you had told me twelve months ago that I would move away from home and be living in Hollywood, as a young adults pastor and most days feeling like I am 100% winging it, I would have walked away from our conversation thinking you were crazy. No offence. You’re probably not crazy.
But here I am. And to actually get here there have been twists and turns, loop-de-loops, and a few hidden trolls... But now that I am here? I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Today, if you are dealing with a speed bump, if you're on a detour you never even saw coming, hold tight. Don't get off. Don't jump ship. This detour is all a part of the journey. I can't promise that one day it will all make sense, that you will magically understand the pain and loneliness a detour can bring. No, I may not be able to explain it, but I can pray.
And so my prayer for you is that when the dust settles, when you land safely, when you can stop and take a deep breath again, you will look back, you will see the twists and turns, the ups and downs, and you'll say, "I wouldn't trade it for the world."
Life doesn’t go to plan. And that’s the best part. Today, embrace the journey. You never know where it might lead.
"Relax, everything's going to be all right; rest, everything's coming together; open your hearts, love is on the way!" Jude 2