Sometimes I look back on the memories of my first pregnancy and wish I could forget them. Marriage was in one of those “rough patches,” my relationship with God felt lonely and confusing, and life in general felt uncertain. After coming out of that season, I was ashamed of my faithlessness and my lack of holding to truth, and committed to myself that if I was ever pregnant again, I would glorify God through it, somehow.
The years have passed since then. My love for God has been refined, clarified, and made firmer. And through many tears, many prayers, and many stories that very few know or understand, seven years later here I am today, expecting our second child.
Expecting my second child, in the very throw of pregnancy, having that same question in my mind nearly all the time, “How is God glorified through this?” I read and hear much about that after birth, when the baby is crying all night, when the children are begging for your attention. But what about during pregnancy? Does anybody talk about that? Maybe I missed it.
How is God glorified when I can’t keep food down, when I gag at every turn, when headaches linger all day long, when I feel faint and weak and start blacking out? When I can barely exercise anymore because I’ll be out of breath in a minute, and am practically passing out when I stand for long anyways? When my doctor prescribes an inhaler to use during the night when I wake up gasping for breath?
When my brain thinks and feels and acts like a million, soft, delightful, easy going, clear, blissful, shiny bubbles filling and floating the clear blue sky?
At first, I thought I was failing. My normal tendency is to be in God’s Word, to be reading, studying, asking questions, helping, serving. But this pregnancy thing, it has thrown me off. Already. Before baby has come. I feel miserable a lot. There is a good sized lump on my belly now, hindering my movement. At 17 weeks I started getting some pretty strong kicks that, although thrilling and exciting and evidence of life, I confess were already starting to annoy me with their constant prodding and poking.
I thought I was failing because I had no energy to do hardly anything wholeheartedly like I normally do. I was falling asleep during my studies. Reading my Bible and the books that I normally did were giving me headaches and making me sick. I could tell my poor daughter was feeling deprived and missing my usual attentions. My sweet husband never complained when he came home from work and had to clean everything, do everything, go everywhere for me.
I thought I was failing until I remembered that this pregnancy isn’t about me. Perhaps that is what made it so hard to endure the first time around; I was focused on how this pregnancy affected me, what lovely thing was coming to me, what suffering was coming to me, what joy was coming to me.
But this isn’t about me. It’s about God, and how he is bringing about new life. It’s about God forming something new in my womb, breathing life into it, and molding its very being. My daughter was asking about why she had so many freckles the other day, and we talked about God planning and making those freckles even when she was growing inside me. Just like he’s doing with this new baby on the way.
When the focus is off of me for a moment and on to Christ, I stop always asking the generic question “how do these miseries even glorify God?” And I start asking things like, “How can I die to self in this season? How can I sacrifice my life, for the sake of this life inside of me? How can I give my all to this season? How can I let go of my wants and desires the way Christ did for me? How can I endure for the sake of Christ?” If all I do is ponder over and over the beauty of Christ’s humility on the cross, remember his suffering in light of my suffering, and remind myself that there are other believing, suffering, pregnant ladies out there, enduring the same “trial” to varying degrees, and we do it together, and we do it for his sake and not our own, is that not how he might be glorified?
Oh blessed thought! That those floating bubbles of my mind would be full of the glory of the cross as I lie awake in the watches of the night, and remember that it is for his sake I carry this little lump around. What a glorious thought! That as I sit hovering over my toilet spilling my guts out into it, with my knees already bowed on the bathroom floor, my mind would be confessing that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father!
Serving and reading and studying and praying and teaching and meeting with friends all look a little different for me right now. And after 7 years of being in a routine and expanding that routine in lovely ways, this longed-for and waited-for and prayed-for pregnancy is a slight interruption in the way I do my life. But oh, what a unique interruption in order to learn about sacrifice and humility! What a blessed time to learn about laying down my life, my pride, my desires, my ambitions, for the sake of another.
And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:8-11