Thursday, December 13, 2012

Mothering Bravery

Motherhood is a rebuke to everything gnostic, the heresy that says only ‘spiritual’ things are worthwhile… Motherhood is the perfect illustration of vocation. God has empowered a woman to be a mother, and God works with a mother to sustain that fragile life.”

Gene Edward Veith

This is the 6th time I've been pregnant during Advent.  It is my favorite time of year to be holding a baby inside.  Something about being pregnant while remembering Mary's pregnancy makes it all so real to me - and brings a more personal feel to my readings of the Nativity story.

But this year, I realize someone else was pregnant "with Mary."  Someone I've never focused that much on before, but someone I probably have more in common with at this point than Mary.  Elizabeth, her cousin,  a few months farther along and several years her senior.

When I think of these women during this point in history, and I am struck by their bravery.  When my Midwife patiently lets my little ones help hold the Doppler (not so) steady and seek out the heartbeat of our precious little 6th, I'm reminded that even our low-tech homebirth plans include more safety nets than these women of the bible could ever imagine.  While birth still walks the line between life and death for many women, it is not nearly the risk it used to be.

Elizabeth was barren and advanced in years.  Isn't it funny how God does that several times in the bible, makes people laugh with the absurdity of his miracles?  The things we can't wrap our heads around, He does.  We now call it "advanced maternal age" and slap warning labels all over it, but I believe Elizabeth was elated - could not stop glowing.  A baby!  

Back then, babies were considered to be blessings, a high honor.  Back then, when there were no Dopplars or ultrasounds or tests for Downs Syndrome.  Back when what we consider to be basic nutrition was not always a possibility.  Back when a carrying baby carried a high possibility of a death sentence.

For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.  
Luke 1:44

Elizabeth was in her 6th month when Mary came visiting - just as I'll be at Christmas time.  When my little one practices her dance steps during our Advent service, I wonder if this is how it felt when the unborn prophet John leapt at the sound of Mary's voice.

Both Mary and Elizabeth's boys were destined for death.  Both proclaimed the truth until the end.  

Being a Mother is bravery.  The world tells us to protect ourselves from every pain, every hardship, every heartbreak.  "Just don't get hurt," is the mantra of our day, holding anything and anyone at an arms length, preferring the solitude of self to opening ourselves up to - pain.  Because pain can only be a bad thing, yes?

Mamas know better.  We know that, to love a child, you have to let go of your protective shield over your heart and open it wide.  What we do requires strength and bravery and faith because it requires every ounce of us and comes with no guarantees   Ask the Mama with an 80% miscarriage possibility who still prays for miracles over her tiny unborn treasure.  Ask the Mama who's son hasn't come home for a visit in 10 years.  Ask the Mama who eats organic perfection all pregnancy long and toils through birth, only to meet her child born sleeping.  Ask the Mama staying up all night, standing vigil over her child in the soft glow of the hospital room.

Ask Mary, who watched her perfect Son, blameless of any and all sin, die a horrific death.

But Mamas, we know that sacrifices and suffering can hold secret treasures that only those brave enough to accept them can find.  So we hold tight to God's promises and pray for endurance for this ride.

Motherhood isn't a Hollywood trend or an experience for the bucket list.  It is much, much more than that.  In opening ourselves up to sacrifice and yes, maybe suffering, we unwrap a gift worth so much more.  

We light the Advent candles and my baby leaps and I'm filled with wonder at His ways, so strange and wonderful, reminded that He is all goodness and light.

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  1. Lydia, thank you for being so open and honest. You tend to be upfront with so many things we Moms struggle with. How easy it is to build walls around ourselves to protect our feelings, space or keep from feeling pain. Oh, but our Lord and Savior, Jesus didn't do that. He knew we had to experience the pain to appreciate the beauty. I wish you and your family a blessed Christmas season!

  2. This was beautiful. At this moment, just starting to feel the stirrings of a life inside of me, I, too feel close to those mothers of old (and being AMA this time around, too) there are so many things I ponder all of the time.


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