Normally I delight in the coming of fall. My type-A personality thrives on getting back into the routine and schedule that it provides. This year, I happily began to pencil in dates on our calendar for music classes, story-time, homeschool gatherings, book clubs, moms groups, and play dates. I started to put together a morning basket with learning activities, songs, and prayer for our kids.
Then the morning sickness began. All-day-long morning sickness. Though this was my fourth pregnancy, the sickness and fatigue were so much worse this time that I was convinced we were having twins (but there’s just one baby, according to the ultrasound last week!). My previous plans for the new season began to fall apart as I struggled to simply keep up with laundry, meals, and dishes. Because of this, my self-confidence and contentment began to fall apart too. Instead of the full and creative days I’d envisioned, most of my days ended with me exhausted, the kitchen messy, the laundry baskets full, and my kids still wanting mommy time. All around me was evidence that I hadn’t done enough that day … which made me feel like I wasn’t enough.
As I sipped my seltzer water and munched on saltines, I reflected on how much my sense of worth was tied to my accomplishments in a day. If I were really honest, it was often productivity that brought me peace … a checked-off list that said success. Morning sickness was robbing me of that peace and success as my days now consisted of paper plates, convenience foods, few outside engagements, and more TV time for the kids than I wanted. I was discouraged and frustrated and even ashamed as I thought how quickly my family had gone from a thriving season to a survival one. But then the small voice of grace broke through my negative thoughts and said, “Might you thrive here too?”
- Image credit: Pixabay.com (2011), CC0/PD
Prayerfully, I began to realize that morning sickness wasn’t the problem. My mindset was. When I looked at the “glorious difference of the saints,” as C.S. Lewis calls it, I remembered anew that not all of them were Joan of Arcs or Catherine of Sienas. God was not the one making me feel guilty for my lack of productivity. In fact, He probably wasn’t even calling me to be productive in the ways I thought I needed to be. Instead, I needed to renew my mind (Romans 12:2) to see that this time of morning sickness brought its own unique spirituality to my life for me to embrace: a spirituality that encourages me to slow down and prioritize. To focus on my primary relationships and my primary responsibilities. To be still more often.
Thriving during this time doesn’t mean trying new recipes and keeping a spotless house. It doesn’t mean being involved in a lot of commitments outside the home. It does mean choosing kindness for my husband and children even when I don’t feel well. It means offering up my suffering for others who are struggling too. It means allowing my inabilities to cultivate a spirit of humility in my soul rather than frustration. And it means seeking God in prayer for the strength to accomplish what (and only what) He desires me to accomplish in a day.
When I am being still and resting in the midst of my fatigue and sickness (when I’m “doing nothing” in the world’s eyes and my own) it’s amazing to think of all that God is doing inside my body as He knits together our child in my womb. Perhaps this is the best spiritual insight of all– that it’s less about what we are doing and more about what God is doing in us and through us when we surrender to His daily plan for our lives. Too often we measure our success (even spiritually) by what we do in a day, but our Lord is more concerned with who we are becoming by His grace. Even more, He loves us for who we already are through Baptism — His beloved daughters. If morning sickness is teaching me to rely more on Him and less on my abilities and accomplishments, then bring it on (but hopefully I don’t need too many more weeks of this to learn that lesson, Lord!).
Is there an area in your life where you focus more on ‘doing’ instead of ‘being’? How can you practice inviting God into that area and asking Him what He wants to do?
Copyright 2019 Laura Range