It starts slowly, a little twinge here, a sharp shooting pain there as I go about my day. The days go on and with the increasing heaviness of pregnancy comes the increased discomfort.
On Sunday there is no break in the pain. I wake up several times that night to it. I sit with it in church. I struggle with it up and down the stairs dragging laundry baskets. I soak in a tub for a few minutes relief and then slip it back on while baking for family dinner.
Sometimes love is pain. Far from pink candy hearts and sweeping romantic gestures, love is often hard. Grating, bone on bone. Picking up each day's hardship and wearing it like a mantle, walking the next 24 hours before setting it down again.
With Lent drawing nearer, I do my usual contemplating on what to give up, or do differently during the 40 days leading up to Easter. This year, I'm pregnant. I've been pregnant during Lent 7 times. My Catholic friends tell me that, according to their practices, pregnant women are exempt from fasting during Holy days.
It's funny, because far from being exempt - being pregnant feels like it draws me closer to Christ's suffering than giving up chocolate ever could. Each day, it's front and center. The physical struggle at my changing form, the emotional impact of a cocktail of hormonal chemicals, the mental forbearance required to calculate risk and reward and yet set it aside because there are no guarantees. It is a whole-self experience.
Pregnancy is a wonderful gift. It's a beautiful blessing and something that I am awed by each and every time. It is also complex, and that means that it can be equal parts joy and pain. Equal parts excitement and fear. From a clinical standpoint, I'm not high risk for anything abnormal, but uncertainties always remain. Something as incredible and important as ferrying a soul earth-side could never be trite or simple. It requires physical and emotional strength. Bravery and compassion. Selflessness.
These things are not innate in me. It seems at every turn I struggle, and yet - with the opportunity of struggle comes the opportunity of change. I get stronger fighting off my human impulse to find the easy way out. In my struggle, He sanctifies.
In pregnancy, I become acquainted with surrender. With the acceptance that comes from sitting with uncertainty. In pregnancy and later on, delivery - I am forced to acknowledge that we all walk a narrow line between life and death. Something that is easy to stick in the back of my mind during the rush of regular life, in Lent and in pregnancy - I face it.
Love requires opening yourself up to being broken. 12 years and 7 pregnancies and I still learn this over and over again. The entire transition of growing a child inside you makes you think that, somehow, at the end - it will belong to you. For good. But my work here is transient. Fleeting. From the very start, the end begins.
There are days when it all feels like too much. Too much for any one person to take. There are days when I'd wish myself a thousand miles away if I could. Instead, I open myself up to brokenness and commune with God. Because being broken for love is something that takes supernatural grace and strength, faith and courage. It requires more than anything I could drum up on my own.
My body, broken for little you.
My heart, broken for you.
My world, shattered for you.
My everything, for you.
Love like that is more than a human heart can hold. So I hand it over to Him, take up the hard parts and call it all Holy. In and with me, He leads me on.
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