Saturday, December 20, 2014

Chapter 40, part 2: Going Home

The plane touched down at John Wayne Airport in Orange County just as the sun went down. I waited until I got off the plane to call Daddy at his office. “Daddy, I’m at the airport. Can you and Mom pick me up? I’ll tell you everything when you get here.”

They drove up to the curb outside baggage claim in Mom’s silver SUV. Mom jumped out and crushed me in a hug. “Gigi. This is such a surprise. We’re so glad to see you, whatever the reason. Ruth’s staying over at a friend’s house tonight. Can you tell us what this is about?”

“I’m starved. Let’s eat first. I’ll tell you after dinner.”

We made small talk while Mom cooked and as we ate. As we took our last few bites, Daddy said, “What could be so important that it was worth putting another plane ticket on your credit card? I thought I raised you girls to be wiser with money than this.”

“Frank, please,” Mom interrupted. “I don’t think this is time for a lecture.”

She and I cleared the table and the joined Daddy on the couch in the living room. Mom touched my arm. “Giselle, I can see there is something different about you. Something big must have happened. Are you ready to tell us what it is?”

Was I ready? I thought I was but Daddy’s harping on my money management made me unsure. Would he take the news of my pregnancy any better than he had handled my crashing his favorite car?

“I’m not sure where to start.” I stammered.

“How about the beginning?” Daddy suggested.

“The beginning … OK.” I sent up a silent prayer for strength and forged ahead. “I thought I was a Christian, but it turns out I didn’t really understand God’s grace at all. I worked so hard to earn his love that I wore myself out. This guy Brad came along and promised to love me in a way I hadn’t ever felt loved before, and well … one thing led to another.”

“And now you’re pregnant?” Mom said.

“Yes,” I said quietly. “But just let me finish, please.”

“Giselle,” Daddy said, putting his arm around me. “Before you go on. You need to hear how much your mother and I love you. And we will love your baby too.”

Mom murmured agreement, tears in her eyes. “This whole thing breaks my heart.”

“Me too,” Daddy said, arm still around me.

A wave of shame swept over me. I didn’t mean to bring them such pain. Yet Daddy still kept his arm around me. He did love me as much as he said. After we three cried together for a moment, Daddy prompted me to finish the story.

“I felt convicted and tried to repent and Brad dumped me over it. It was just then when I was at my lowest that God showed up and helped me to finally understand his grace and love. And then I found out about the baby. That was Monday. Tuesday evening I gave a talk at our campus Christian group telling people about God’s grace and the availability of forgiveness for all kinds of sins.”

Mom pulled me into a hug. “Oh, my precious girl. That was so brave.”

I continued, “The story’s not quite done there though. This morning, Brad proposed. He wanted me to elope with him right then, but I told him I needed more time to consider his offer.”

Mom and Daddy looked at each other, then at me.

“I’m so glad you didn’t elope,” Daddy said. “I didn’t want to say anything when you were home at Christmas, but even if he’s the father of this baby, he’s not right for you. I didn’t like the way he subtly undercut you and put you down then, and now that I know how he failed to respect your body …” Anger flashed in his eyes. “I can’t make the decision for you of course, but please,please take my advice into account as you think and pray about this.”

“Don’t worry, Daddy. The plane ride here gave me lots of time to think,” I said. “All along I wondered why nobody but me could see how wonderful he was. Mom and Kirsten didn’t like him, my friends warned me about him. I just figured they didn’t know him like I did. But you hit on something when you say he subtly undercut me. He always made me question myself. I knew I didn’t like the way he treated his mom, but it wasn’t until today that I realized: he had been treating me the same way.”

We talked late into the night about logistics around school and the baby. We decided I could finish the semester and then transfer home to a community college or Cal State Citrus Valley so Mom could help with child care.

“God has a wonderful plan for your life, Giselle,” Mom said as we finally headed up the stairs to bed.

“I believe that too, Mom.”  Maybe I'd never get married. Being a single mom for the rest of my life would be a challenge, but Jesus would be there with me every step of the way. Life would be good.

“Giselle Gertrude Gottlieb, we love you and are so proud of you,” Daddy said.

I laughed with delight. “I don’t know why it took me so long to get how much God loves me,” I said. “It’s been staring me in the face every time I write our last name.”

“How so?” Mom asked.

“Gottlieb. It means love of God in German.”