I remember after a particularly brutal football game my senior year of high school, talking with a friend who had endured a few hard hits. Mid-conversation he said, “What? Oh no. Now I’m crying. I’m crying! [Insert explicative].” The doctor diagnosed him the following morning with a concussion, the source of his tears.
It’s not a bump on the head, but rather one on my belly, that seems to be causing me unanticipated tears. For most of the afternoon. Without known cause. (Ok, we might be able to link it to watching a wedding-centered chick flick, but I don’t recall 27 Dresses moving me in same manner at its original viewing).
I’m not an awful pregnant woman. I don’t puke. My ankles remain their normal size. My blood pressure stays steady. No glucose-related issues (if you ignore my craving for tart candies). Really, I get tired, cry a lot and love me some BK Chicken sandwiches, but otherwise I consider myself lucky.
But even in the best of situations, an element of housing another being includes the frustrating challenge of loss of self. It begins small, with the loss of control over your own digestive desires. In the scheme, these are small adjustments for the sake of growing a baby. “It will be worth it,” we hear. And sure, meeting that little bundle does help ease the former discomfort. But honestly, that’s just something that people say when they’re not pregnant.
The reality of de-prioritizing ourselves isn’t as simple as making a chiro appointment for the flaring sciatic. We don’t pee on a stick and magically, willingly endure even the mildest inconvenience with sheer delight. If you ask me, in the day and age of women learning and living as independent, strong, self-directed individuals, this giving of yourself to another meets, a tougher learning curve. Of course, marriage has been good practice at learning to consider someone other than yourself. But in that situation, it’s usually (or best) a two-way road, reciprocated and appreciated.
In the role of motherhood, this sacrificial giving is a bit more one-sided. And honestly, that’s the way it’s supposed to be. I’m the parent. But knowing the role I’m supposed to play doesn’t ease the growing pains of becoming that person.
Thanks to a recent post
by Sarah Bessey (no seriously, go read it, I’ll wait… ok. Totally worth it, yes?), I’ve thought more about the spiritual connection of motherhood through our physical bodies. Today, the commonly quoted Romans 12:1-2 came to mind – Therefore, offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to him. This is your spiritual act of worship
. And I couldn’t help but get caught up on on the word bodies. Christianity tends to be a very heartfelt-driven belief. But Paul doesn’t urge us to give our hearts as sacrifices, loving as an idea. No, he gets physical. Offer your bodies
, and in so doing, it becomes something spiritual. It becomes worship.
What can pregnancy – or enduring the haze following a sleepless night, or sharing stomach virus germs, or spending a year tied via breast to another person – possibly have to do with loving God? I think it might be everything.
If we cannot give ourselves to this helpless being, how will we ever give ourselves completely to an invisible one? If we can’t wash the feet of our littles, will we ever stoop to another in a humbling position? God gave us a beautiful gift in the creation of families and community – He gave us the gift of practice.
I’m only 4 years into this journey and still find frequent, frustrating episodes of selfishness rising up amid my best intentions to be a loving mom. Sometimes I just want to watch a girly show without having to send a kid back to bed. I wish for times of writing a blog post, thoughts uninterrupted by a little one that has yet again thrown her binky out of her crib. I want to eat my dessert without explaining why it’s mine and no you cannot have a bite without guilt.
Loving in this context is more than your heart jumping, or even crying with pity for the starving children of Africa. Love means typing with a kid in your lap. It means cold food and early nights in. It means giving up dairy while nursing. Love takes on the physical, the right here.
And in no other time of the year do I appreciate this experience more than the days leading up to God doing the same for all mankind. To think that God didn’t just love with a compassionate heart from afar … “oh, look at them down there, those poor humans. I hope someone helps them!” He loved right here, in the flesh. I’d like to think of it has his version of cleaning up puke in the middle of the night.
Motherhood. Loving. Following Jesus. It’s not easy, but it’s good. It’s not automatic, but it’s grown.