Of course, anyone is welcome to read. But this is a short note of encouragement to those girls out there, like me, currently in the business of growing humans. You’re armed with TUMS and the latest craving (crushed iced from Sonic, please), counting down the days to delivery.
In the Church, we have just lived through the liturgical seasons of Advent and Christmas. How did those holiday maternity outfits work out for you? I’m in the final countdown here—breathing heavily at the top of the stairs and struggling to get out of the van if I’ve parked too close to the next car. In the wake of the season, though, I can’t help but think about some of the spiritual realities of pregnancy and the ways they correlate with all that we have heard and seen over these past months.
Maybe you feel like the whirlwind of Christmas has totally passed you by and you have yet to experience the real fruits of the season. I’m here to say, “Not so, my friend.” As a lady with a baby, you are living it with our Lord.
The preparation of Advent and the joy of Christmas is all a huge reminder of God’s desire to be in relationship with us. I would venture to say that pregnancy is the same. Why else would God have given us this role in His intricate design for life? I have to pass along something from a homily at my parish because it’s been burning in my heart since I heard it: my pastor talked about the way that God has invited us to share in the story of salvation. In His love for us, He has invited us to take part. He asked a lowly, humble, human girl, to carry His son into the world when He could have gone about it in a million different ways. But, always, He wants to be with us. The analogy my pastor used was that of a mom baking a cake. She can do it on her own (with a lot more ease and a lot less mess), but still, out of love for her daughter, she asks her to come and help so that they can do it together—so that her daughter can share in her life with her.
Of course I was weeping in the choir loft. It struck me so poignantly especially during this pregnancy because I know that God did not have to design the progression of human life in this way. He could have gone the whole stork route. But He has invited us in to this experience of carrying and bearing life. He has asked us to share in it with Him. Why? For His love of us. For the same reasons that we have our daughters crack the eggs and pour the oil. Because He knows that it will be good for us.
And what is good for us? Drawing nearer to God. And how to we draw nearer to God? By abandoning ourselves. This happens forcibly from day one in pregnancy. All of your little sufferings are forcing you into this spiritual reality of moving beyond yourself—a reality that equals real joy and real life. You are made vulnerable. You are humbled (there are too many examples of pregnant humiliation for me to choose from here, so just insert your own). And, thus, you are carried to a deeper realization of your need for the Lord. There in the need, you find life. It’s not an easy road, but if anyone knows the fear, uncertainty, and anxiety that accompany heartburn and braxton-hicks, surely it’s Mary. The load seems to lighten when we can turn to someone who knows. God, in His love for us, has made sure to know, has made sure to give us a Mother who knows. He has done this by choosing to share our lives with us and by allowing us to share His life with Him.
I’ve been laughing all season at the song Silent Night because there has been not a lot of silence in my house this holiday and it’s doubtful to me that the nativity was altogether silent. But, I did catch myself in a daydream about when this baby finally decides to come out and I remember from past experiences a very real and sweet silence. If you’ve done it before then you know. It’s the best thing ever. When the labor is over and delivery is done, you have those first precious hours with a quiet newborn soaking each other in (while those blessed nurses take care of you and baby…in my mind it’s like being at the Ritz—I never want to leave). And there is a silence and holiness to it, just like there was for Mary.
I think this experience—the long road of pregnancy, the challenge of labor and delivery, and the joy of this incarnation of love in our very own lives—is a little bit of heaven on earth. It draws us nearer to God and nearer to Heaven, because He has designed it to be that way, because He knows what is good for us. In His love for us, His children, He has asked us to share in His life with Him and in choosing to do so we catch a glimpse of heaven.
Hang in there, Mamas. Our silent night is coming. And please for the love of Sonic ice, let the kid sleep in the nursery while you can. The silence is brief!
Copyright 2016 Kelly Pease
Photo: by Juan Galafa (2015) via stocksnap, CC