At Momma and Daddy’s, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Today was a really wonderful day. My mom threw a shower for me here in Pittsburgh and it was one of the most encouraging experiences I’ve had in a long time. It reminded me what community is. So many women from so many different walks of life were there – some of whom I haven’t seen for a really long time. And they all were so loving and excited. Many of them are older than almost anyone I spend time with in Boston. I always forget how stunted my life is in Boston – no one over the age of 40 spends time with me – but here, more than half of the group was older women and it was like a drink of refreshing water.
A. gave a really beautiful devotion/testimony and everything she said was exactly what I needed to hear. One of the most memorable points she made is that fear is not necessarily a bad thing going into parenthood. Fear is a natural human response to something we know is bigger than ourselves, out of our control. But what we do with our fear matters. As Christians, we are called to take our fear to the Lord. All in all, it was a very, very sweet day. Like honey to my soul. I feel so loved and refreshed, and am so thankful for women who remind me of what real life is like, far from the madding crowd of Boston.
At Home, Arlington, Massachusetts
Well. I'm pregnant. After years of complaining, processing, and thinking about this, here it is. I'm not even sure I comprehend it. Out of nowhere, with no expectations, I'm pregnant.
Last week, before I knew it to be a reality and only suspected it, I was peeking around the corner at awe. But this week, now that it is reality, all I feel is the physicality of it. My head hurts, my stomach is weird, and I have never ever felt more fatigued in my life. It's hard to think about awe when your body feels like it's crumpling from within.
It is an awe-full thing.
It ended up being so easy and so natural – not hard at all. Life taking its course in the most literal of meanings. And that is terrifying. Most of all, I simply find myself once again being scandalized and terrorized by the goodness of God demonstrated in it. God does not scare me when I believe him to be stern or demanding; but, I find him to be absolutely harrowing when he blesses me abundantly. How can such a great God deign to see me? Why would he do such a thing? It is his goodness that slaps the defiance off of my face and leaves me feeling naked and afraid. A God who withholds seems to give me space to raise a fist. A God who freely gives can only be met by my complete submission.
For more than two years, I have believed that I was doomed. Maybe I still will be. Maybe I will miscarry and will get the woe I so often believe is rightfully mine. But right now, as new life begins to grow inside my tummy, I feel God laughing at me. Not mocking me, not spiting me, not even shaking his head at me. Just laughing for the joyful mirth of proving my countless wayward doubts wrong. Laughing as a Father laughs with joy over the blunders of his child. Laughing in love.
The last three weeks have been some of the most chaotic and miserable of my life. But it feels as if a note has been struck, and its ringing in the air both creates and demands a silence within my heart. Be quiet. Be quiet now. The ripples of this moment will spread forth in waves, but this is a moment of silence. This is a moment to let life lie as it is, to stop, to let be.
The Lord is good. And he sits on his throne in heaven. Amen.
(Image by Percy French, "Mayo Mermaids.")
At Home, Arlington, Massachusetts
Fallen human nature is a beast.
We know how to take all good things and turn them into twisted, horrible echoes of their former selves. My friend just had her baby and despite every inch of excitement and joy that I felt, I managed somehow to find a way to wallow in self-pity. Self-pity when there is new life and new joy in the world!
I can come up with any number of excuses and explanation. It's not like I have a great track record with mothers, or really women on their own paths to motherhood. I’ve had friends who suddenly never talked with me about anything other than their babies. Other friends have decided that because they are pregnant or mothers they have the right to judge and pressure me unless I also followed their life plans. And once I was embraced in the bear hug greeting of a woman while she yelled across the room, "Now, there's the person I really want to see!" to a visibly pregnant acquaintance.
If there ever was a symbol of the world and church's preference for the pregnant, that was it. A clear, visible reminder that among women, what counts is having a baby. Nothing more, nothing less. From my perspective, becoming a mother is the point at which all women's gazes turn inward. Damn the rest of the world. The ranks are drawn together, the lines drawn, and the people they all really want to see are those that are just like them. Insular, they now are supercharged to command the stage, and to let every other woman know that they are waiting, and expecting, their quick assimilation into the line.
But no matter how much of this is true, none of it, absolutely nothing from my experience, justifies my own turning of my gaze inward during the arrival of new life. If anything, it should draw my gaze upward, and outward, resting upon the face of the Father. He has given this life, he has seen it to fruition, and I give him praise.
I woke up on Tuesday morning and for some reason, I believed I was pregnant. My period hadn't yet started and for some reason it felt like it just wasn't going to happen, like my body was telling me it was producing life. Later that day the cramps kicked in and the illusion popped, but for a few hours, I felt so happy. The timing wouldn't be great, but I didn't care. It just would have been happy.
I have a hard time with mommies. But I'm starting to remember how much I like babies. Of all the pictures of this new baby that we've been sent, my favorite is the one where she is trying to open her eyes. She's squashed and bleary-eyed, and a little grouchy looking – and I love her. Her face in this picture is exactly how I feel every day of my life. Like if I could only get my eyes open enough, there might be some real things to see. But it's hard and painful and my eyes just can't get used to the bright light. They aren't used to working yet. One day they will be fully adjusted and reality will enter my perception and mind and self, but for now keeping them closed is the best way to cope.
Jesus, you are the light of the world. You have given my heart new eyes, but I can't keep them open. It's too bright. Please, please help me.
At Home, Arlington, Massachusetts
Today was so good. The Lord provided so abundantly for Trey, and I couldn't be more proud of him and thankful to God. Trey got top honors in his graduating class from Gordon-Conwell. On one level, I'm kind of frustrated with him because of how much he always talked as if this was just not a possibility. But that's only a very small part of me. Most of me is just really happy. And really really relieved. I know everything would have been good too if he had not received this honor, but I've been praying practically the entire time we've known each other for him to excel, not for his own merit, but for the blessing I think he will be to others. I believe in the work he wants to do and his fitness for it.
But since we got home, I've been feeling anxious again. I don't really know why, but as I was driving around doing errands today, it occurred to me that sometimes God's blessings are scarier than his discipline. I know this is twisted, but when the Lord blesses us, I often feel like asking, "When is the shoe gonna drop?" When is God going to call in the debt and discipline us?
So many people I know believe that suffering is integral to the Christian life – and a necessary fruit of the Spirit. I know the Spirit is at work in me, so when is the hit coming? Most of the time, I find myself assuming it will come in the realm of our family. We won't be able to have kids. The kids will be a disaster. There must be something huge and horrible in my life; it can't all be blessings.
I know this is faulty thinking, but it is so deep down in me that I don't know how to change it. God’s blessings scare me because they render me powerless and defenseless. They remind me the scales cannot be balanced - there is a debt, but is infinitely tipped in one direction, forever to remain so. I don't know why God ushers some into suffering and others into blessing. But I do know I want and need to learn to accept the goodness that God freely extends my way.
About the Project
This is a very personal project. It tracks my growth and development as I journeyed toward motherhood over the recent years. It doesn't document every experience I had, and probably neglects my more joyful and peaceful moments in the frenzy of trying to communicate my fears, anxieties, and doubts. If you are a friend or loved one, please do not let anything you read here overshadow what you know of me personally. If you are a stranger, please remember that a living and flawed person stands behind these words. To all my guests here, please understand these are not political statements and try to extend me grace, even as I share my failures and foibles - I have repented of much of what I share. I don't share this journal as an exemplar, but rather out of the desire to share my hope that entrance to motherhood does not need to be a fearful thing - despite the very real fears I have fought against. Motherhood is simply a part of life and one through which I am discovering more of myself and my God.