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An Unexpected Gift

by Kelly Bowen

This holiday season God gave me the most interesting of gifts: a thankful heart. The strange thing is not that I am thankful, but what I am thankful for: that I do not yet have children. What makes this so odd is I have a very deep desire to enter into marriage and motherhood. I have spent evenings praying with friends and mentors that the blessed day would come that I could be a mother. I have mourned the years which have passed without having fulfilled my dream of becoming a mother and have wrestled with God on why He has placed such a desire in my heart without the means to fulfill it.

With all this information you may ask, why the sudden change of heart? Well, mid-November my grandpa entered palliative care and continued to decline until the first week of January when he finally let go of our hands to join hands with Jesus. This has been a very difficult season for me since my grandpa and I are very close. My dad died suddenly when I was 18, so for the past 10 years I have looked to my grandpa as a father figure of sorts. Not only have I lost my grandpa to cancer, but when he was dying, it felt like the last paternal figure in my life was slipping away from me. Consequently, my life consisted of a lot of hospital visits these past months. I went to see him on average every other day for at least an hour or two from mid-November into December. When his health took a sharp turn Jan. 1, I visited him daily after work, and I stayed with him about 10 hours his last full day. I came back early in the morning around 1 a.m. to join my family by his side as he passed peacefully Jan. 4.

During one of these visits, my brother-in-law was there, and as we left, he mentioned that my sister was at home with their children. In that moment, it hit me that if God had granted my prayer of having children at this point in my life, then I would not be able to be as involved with my grandpa’s care as I was. If I had a small child, I would not have had the time to visit him as often or as long as I did. It also would not have been so easy to slip away from my family in the night to be by his bedside in those last moments. I was astounded to find myself grateful for not having children for the first time in my adult life.

This experience has greatly humbled me. God has given me a precious gift with my grandpa. While I am incredibly sad that he died, in a way I am glad it happened at this time in my life. I’m not tied down to the responsibilities of school or a young family, so I could devote my extra time to serving and loving my grandpa. Now as I write this, the day after his funeral, it feels oddly painful that the hospital visits have ceased. However, the memories of the time I would spend with him and the routine things I would do like brushing his hair or filing his nails act as a balm to soften the pain. The whole thing makes me think of how Scripture talks about God wanting to give us gifts and how sometimes we don’t recognize that He is waiting to give us something better than we expect. While I was so focused on what I didn’t have, God was waiting to give me something so precious: a chance to give back to the man who has given me so much more than he had realized in these past 10 years.

The whole thing makes me wonder if there are other things I am not trusting God with.  Are there things that He is keeping from me at this point in my life for His sovereign purposes because He wants to give me something else first? It can be so easy to focus on the small pieces of our lives we can see that we lose sight of the fact God has access to the bigger picture and has a fuller life set out for us than we realize. I still pray one day that I would have a family, but now I also express my thanks for the precious time that God gave me to serve my grandpa to his very last of days. It is truly one of the greatest honors and privileges that God has bestowed to me.

Kelly Bowen loved watching “Walker Texas Ranger” with her grandpa and enjoys chasing around her many nieces and nephews.

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