I love words- the way they sound, the way you can string them together to make a statement, and the way the right single word can express so much if used in just the right way. Lately, I have been growing increasingly annoyed by the use of the word "miracle". It's thrown about in the most common ways as if it means nothing. I vented my frustration to my sister on this topic, and she replied, "What are you - the word police?" Well, that got me thinking that perhaps there should be such thing, so I nominate myself as word police captain. After all, someone needs to do the job!
Webster and I agree. Here's his definition of "miracle":
1. an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs
2. an extremely outstanding or unusual event, thing, or accomplishment
Take for example, the latest article I read in the waiting room of the doctor's office. The headline read, "Katherine Heigel's Miracle Adoption". That got me hooked, so I flipped open the magazine to see what makes this particular adoption a miracle. To my disappointment, the article shed no light on what was "miraculous" about it. I am sure there are stories about adoptions that are miracles, but this is not one of them.
You hear parents call their babies "miracles" all the time. You might even argue that all creation is a miracle. I disagree. All babies are blessings. We are blessed to be given precious gifts to love and cherish. They bless us with their sweet smiles and contagious laughter, but their birth is not a "miracle" unless it is as the definition says "extremely unusual". I, too, have a full-term daughter whose birth was (Thank God) not a "miracle". It's not really something you want, if given the option. Who says, "yes please give me an 'extremely unusual' birth or one that 'manifests divine intervention'"? No thanks; we would all prefer to be given blessings instead that you get to take home right away instead of spending months in the hospital.
For those who idealistically still think that all creation is a miracle, let me say this. There are approximatley 490,000 babies born every day worldwide. Humans, animals, bugs, plants, and even algae all procreate. It's not the least bit "unusual".
In my new role of word police, I will be handing out permits for those entitled to use the word. Anyone who has had the odds stacked against them at any time may use it such as cancer survivors, tumor survivors, micro-preemies, babies born with defects, etc. In addition, people who have tried to conceive for several years and who finally get pregnant or those with complicated pregnancies, you may use the word. I know there are several more scenarios that merit the term "miracle"; all true miracles out there, you know who you are.
Here's two great examples. My friend Donna's baby Thurston, who sadly has passed, was the definition of a miracle baby. He was only given a 17% chance of living, and yet he spent a year here on Earth. Even though he passed away, he is still my ultimate definition of a miracle. I've been reading another blog of a lady who had her micro-preemie son at 24 weeks on the bathroom floor. The parents had to give him CPR until the paramedics came. He is a miracle baby.
I recently saw a picture online with a caption that said "My 36 Week Miracles" under a picture of twins. I read on to see what "miraculous" story they had. They spent one week in the hospital and went home with no complications. Are you kidding? That does not remotely qualify as being "miraculous". Babies born at 24 weeks have a 40% chance of survival, 25 weeks have a 50-80% chance, 26 weeks have a 80-90% chance, and 27 weeks have a greater than 90% chance. I couldn't find the numbers on 36 weeks gestation survivability, but I am sure that it is greater than 95%.
Think of other emotionally-charged words for a moment - champion, survivor, and hero come to mind. People don't just call themselves these words unless they truly possess these traits. I think the same rules should apply to the use of the word "miracle".
Here's a picture of my two little "Miracles" who have earned their title.