It was mostly her eyes.
Doe-eyed, some would say. My granny would’ve said, “that baby done been here before.” They were wide with wonder. Framed with eyelashes that waved at me like fans in slow motion. It was like she could see me. Really see me. And I saw her.
She was juicy in a way that only babies can be. With cheeks that made you want to kiss them forever. Only a few months old when I held her the first time, I felt an ache in my heart. I wanted to take her home with us. Adopt her if it was possible. She was the god-daughter of my husband’s best friend and his wife. The mother was a struggling teenager facing a tough life.
I suppose I didn’t realize how tough.
We didn’t take her in. Although I firmly believe that God placed that baby girl in my heart, I listened to my circumstances instead. I’d just had my first miscarriage so “maybe I was just feeling emotional because of that.” Hubby and I were newly married so “could we really afford to take in someone’s child?” And given the issues, “maybe the mother didn’t want to leave her baby.”
I listened to every other voice but the one I knew was true.
And four years later, last week to be exact, that same little girl was stabbed and set on fire, along with her mother and unborn sibling, by… by… what do you call someone who does such evil?
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not making this about me. I’m clear that there’s no guarantee that R’Mani would have been safe if we had stepped in to help. There were so many factors, so many issues that went well beyond anything my husband and I could have known or anticipated.
But there’s one clear lesson for me in this: When Spirit of God lays something on your heart, act on it. If it is His will and vision, He will give you the way and provision. It really is that simple.
We’re the ones that complicate things.
Sometimes it is so easy for us to look at our immediate circumstances or what we perceive to be right or wrong with our lives, and base every decision we make off that very finite bit of information. Do we not realize that our future is likely to be so much larger than our present? Faith is about taking the risk to believe in something beyond what you can see. It’s about trusting God enough to step out in the direction of your heart…even when stepping out is frightening. Even when everyone else in your world doesn’t get it.
T.S. Eliot said it well: “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”
The scriptures say it best: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)
Sure, it’s times like these that one’s faith can teeter. Mine has. But I believe that God is okay with that. As long as at the end of the day, we hold fast.
Rest easy with our Lord, Precious Girl.
Those who would like to support the R’Mani Capri Rankins Memorial Fund can do so by making a donation at your local branch of Wells Fargo Bank. Please reference R’Mani’s father, Rakeem Rankins.
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This post is the latest in Tracey Michae’l Lewis-Giggetts’ “Faith & Motherhood” series.
Tracey Michae'l is a writer and educator based out of the Philadelphia area. She is a wife to William and a mother to a beautiful two-year old little girl. You can find her on the web at www.traceymlewis.com.