Tag Archives: pregnancy

Bodies Broken Open to Love

28 Oct
Photo via Flickr user Ian Britton

Photo via Flickr user Ian Britton

I am in my last two months of pregnancy. My body no longer belongs to me. The baby who has taken up residence in my womb the past months is making him or herself known in a whole new way. I will be perpetually uncomfortable, absorbing internal blows, adjusting to weight gain, rubbing sore feet, hips and shoulder blades. I will only sleep, I will be only as active as the baby allows. Someone else is calling the shots. All I can do is wait.

I have a joyful little boy running around, reminding me exactly how worth it the third trimester of pregnancy is. This resident alien is a person who I will fall deeply in love with and be in constant awe of. It will be the deepest honor to the its mommy. I keep reminding myself. It helps. It also helps that I know the pain and discomfort are productive, the consequences of generating life. Suffering that is a part of life and love make us better people in the end.

The temporary powerlessness of late pregnancy brings with it great compassion. Knowing that the pain and discomfort are in the service of life, I welcome the opportunity to be broken. It is good, for a season, that I don’t get my way. It keeps me from aligning myself as the center of the universe. This world is not about me. It invites me to contemplate people whose bodies are broken and not their own due to illness, abuse, or poverty, things that don’t bring life and love.

To bear another life in my body is messy. It’s beautiful. It’s annoying. It, maybe more than anything, teaches me about love.

Last week I had a conversation with a 7th grade boy about how we turn images of an angry God into images of a loving God. “What stories can you think of that show God as a lover?”

After a long pause he said simply, profoundly, “The crucifixion.” I took a moment to let the unexpected wisdom of this young man sink in and then asked him to say more. “God became a person, and that person, God’s son, died so that we could live. That’s love.”

Yes. On the cross, Jesus takes our broken humanity into his very body and dies a human death with all the pain, suffering and abandonment that comes with that. In do doing, he offers us his divinity so that we may know life. God points to this act on the cross and declares Jesus Lord. The cross is mess, beautiful, and teaches us about love. Life wins. Love has the final word.

This simple reminder that the cross is the true sign of God’s love was a gift to me as I waddle through my remaining days of pregnancy. May my manageable, baby-growing discomfort break me open to love better and may it invite me to contemplate the mystery of God’s love through the cross.

 

Making Room For Jesus

8 Jan
Photo via Flickr user Steve Corey

Photo via Flickr user Steve Corey

The season of Epiphany, this sacred time after Christmas, always brings me back to Mary, and how she made room in her life for Jesus.

When she learned of the child growing inside of her, I imagine her having to rearrange her mind and heart a bit to make room for another person. She had to welcome this detour, this unexpected gift as her path, her life shifted forever.

While pregnant, her body literally made room for him. A pregnant woman’s organs shift dramatically as the child grows. Her lungs rise, the bladder gets pressed on, the intestines shift, and the heart has to work harder.

Then after Jesus was born, I imagine how her world changed. Like so many new parents, I’m sure her love for her child took her breath away. She most likely immediately had to adjust to less sleep, less free time, and the growing responsibility of keeping a person alive and healthy. Her heart broke open in love for her baby.

And yet Jesus was not just any child. Think about the confusion, excitement, fear, pride and trepidation that must have come with watching her son’s ministry grow. Ultimately, she had to watch her son die on a cross. She had to go on without him, something no mother should have to endure.

Mary made room in her body, her heart and her life for Jesus. How can we make room for Jesus to dwell in our lives?

Uncomfortable Miracles

14 Nov

Last week, during an intermission at a choral concert, my friend and I were comparing notes about our rapidly changing bodies. Her third baby is due on November 24 and my first is due on November 30.

“Do these pews seem shallow to you?” she asked me. “I can’t get comfortable.”

“Is it really hot in here?” I asked her, taking off my scarf.

She’s experiencing symptoms of carpal tunnel in her right hand due to swelling. We’re tired and waddling. We’re both having fairly uncomfortable contractions, accompanied by back pain, shortness of breath, sweating, and headaches. I refilled my water bottle once and used the bathroom three times during the concert. “I’m a hot mess,” I whispered to her, and she giggled, feeling the same way. I looked around at the men in the audience with real amazement laced with both jealousy and pity, deeply realizing that none of them would or could know what my friend and I were enduring. I thought of both the trial and the gift I was living and reflected on how brokenness builds compassion.

I love the idea of being pregnant of my ability to bear another person’s body in my body. My ability to feed it and nurture it and grow with it. For me, there are serious theological ties here to communion (here is my body, broken for you) and the cross (Jesus taking our humanity, sin and death into his body and bearing it on the cross in order to offer us divinity and life). But the idea of being pregnant and actually being pregnant are two different things.

People, women with children in particular,¬†keep looking at my gigantic belly and tell me, “It’s a miracle.”

It doesn’t always feel like a miracle. I really thought I would be one of those women who loved every moment of being pregnant, like I loved the idea of it, but I don’t. Even though I am excited to be a mother and honored to carry my child in my body, although I am curious about what my body is capable of and know without a doubt it will be worth it, I don’t think that requires me to love being uncomfortable and experiencing (although temporary) serious limitations. The idea of being pregnant is so romantic to me. Actually being pregnant is painful, consuming, humbling, and most days it is just plain exhausting. It surprises me that I don’t love every minute of being pregnant. I guess I just thought being part of a miracle would be more fun.

The idea of a miracle and actually being part of a miracle are two different things. Maybe it is how the miracle stories were written in the gospels. At times, Jesus seems to snap his fingers and the person benefits immediately. No nine month incubation period there. Maybe it is how Paul talks about life in the spirit in a way we can think it is separate with life in the body– that spiritual transformation can happen by rising above the matter of the body. Maybe it is how miracles are culturally perceived and presented in the media, with glowing light and slow music and tears of joy. Or maybe it is our constant misperception that good things are devoid of pain. But it actually came as a surprise to me how messy, draining, embodied and rough around the edges this whole miracle thing is. And I know, with the 30th approaching, it is about to get a whole lot messier.

This is a lesson I have to keep learning over and over again in life. There are real physical consequences for love. Miracles do not transcend, but work in and through the body. Love is not easy, but messy. Bodies were really healed. Jesus really suffered and really died before he really rose. And soon, through gritted teeth and pain and blood, the little creation inside of me will join us as a messy miracle.

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