Many women have been here before me, and I’ve been here before, though the circumstances were different. Say “pregnancy is a trial” among a group of mothers, and you can expect a chorus of Amen!‘s. But I am finding that in the trial there are victories that I have (and am) experiencing, and that’s what I want to focus on now.
I am just shy of 12 weeks pregnant and with the exception of today, I have thrown up multiple times every day for the past month, and felt nauseous and worse even longer. Sometimes it feels like having the flu, with little hope of recovery in a week or so. I feel like I’m thirsty – all day. Every day. Staying hydrated is an uphill battle. Food has lost a lot of appeal, I don’t have energy for activities I normally enjoy, and I don’t cross off my daily to-do list ever. There are no outstanding accomplishments or creative endeavors…it’s rare if I have a decent dinner on the table. Sometimes I struggle with guilt, though maybe it’s ‘false guilt’ because I am not the kind of wife, mother or friend I usually am or at least want to be. My house is almost continually a disaster.
I could go on…and on. And on. It’s hard. Feeling woefully ill all the time is demoralizing. Satan of course knows when we are struggling and takes the opportunity to attack, and though having some struggle with depression is somewhat typical for me, it’s even stronger during these hard times. There’s a lie that repeats itself in my head sometimes: “You’ll never have fun again. You’ll never enjoy anything. You’re not a happy person. You’re no fun…” Not thoughts from my Father, but ever-present temptation to dwell on the negative.
In spite of all that…in spite of the trial that these last few weeks have been (and the ones ahead might be)… I feel the grace of God all over this season.
1) I am reminded of my truest Joy. Lately I don’t enjoy savoring a steaming mug of coffee and a bite of chocolate in the afternoons when the kids nap. It used to be a sweet, relaxing moment I looked forward to almost every day. I miss that and other things too – but it has put me in a position in which the ONE thing that I truly celebrate and find joy in everyday is Jesus Christ and the joy of my salvation. I am happy He has created good things for us to enjoy, but some days it is just HIM - and that is enough. I still try to find satisfaction in created things but this season of hardship is changing my inner person so that I really say with the Psalmist, “my flesh and my heart fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever!” [Psalm 73:26]
2) I am reminded of my status. When my husband comes home after work each day, I usually give him a run down of the things the kids and I accomplished in a day. Fun things, household tasks, creative things, etc. Lately I don’t have much to say. If I gave the kids a bath, it’s a big deal! It’s broken my heart many times, but it’s also brought me back to the place where I must be confident that my worth is not proportionate to my accomplishments, skills, talents, motherly prowess, looks, etc. Its a really healthy thing to stare our failure in the face sometimes. Not to stay there and focus on ourselves and stay discouraged, but to remember that we are only dust that God breathed spirit into. That I am not all that, and I don’t need to be. I’m thankful that God uses us to do good works, and I’m thankful that He is understanding and full of compassion and grace and does not expect us to perform when we just can’t.
3) I am led gently by the Good Shepherd. Isaiah 40:11 says that the Lord will “gently lead those with young.” I don’t know quite how to explain, but I feel gently led. When I have been so sick and discouraged I have felt the Lord’s comforting presence near me in ways I never do when I am well, happier, more active, etc…when I feel alone and abandoned and like no one can share in my sickness and hardship, I know that Jesus is with me, and He cares about how I feel.
4) My sin is exposed, and can be dealt with. When you’re feeling well and happy it’s easy to be kind or pretend your sin doesn’t bother you or anyone else. Lately, when I’m tired and dehydrated and sad it’s easy for me to be angry and short with the kids. Often I’d rather be served than serve, and I have trouble caring about anyone else’s needs. I have a hard time wanting to ‘share’ my body again and sometimes resent the necessary changes and weight gain. I am seeing my weaknesses and ugly habits. By God’s grace, the Lord is showing me these things and others so that I can repent, and with His help, change. “Tomorrow’s freedom is today’s surrender…” (All Sons & Daughters)
I’m sure there are other things too, but, in typical fashion, I am now exhausted and ready for a nap. It has really just been amazing to me how God has used such a difficult season to build up my faith, and I wanted to write it all down and share it so I don’t forget how good He is.
And of course, in addition to these good things I am learning, in August 2013 we will be welcoming a new little person into the world and into our family! I feel blessed to be a part of God’s creative work, bringing a new person to life.
<3 God’s blessings to you & yours,