As I approach my delivery date, many people have asked me whether I am ready. I think they usually are asking one of two things (or both): 1) Have I accomplished everything I need to do to welcome the baby?, and/or 2) Am I ready to no longer be bearing the physical burden of pregnancy? It is the second question that has me in a quandary lately. In many ways, I am so ready to be done with the physical discomfort of these last weeks. My body is constantly hurting, I cannot seem to get a good night’s sleep, I cannot find a good balance between not enough exercise and too much exercise, and the kicking in the womb lately takes my breath away. So in that way, I feel so ready to be done with this part of the pregnancy.
But there is another part of me that is quite sad at the prospect of this pregnancy being over. This is the last time my husband and I expect to be pregnant, and so this is the last time I will ever experience the miracle of having a baby kick me from the inside. This is the last time I will see my body expand in ways I never imagined possible. This is the last time that I will be able to enjoy the sacred moment of rubbing my belly and knowing the two of us are sharing in life. So in that way, I am not at all ready for this to all be over.
Where I struggle is in finding the balance between the two. More often I find myself wishing days away and complaining than I do soaking in every last moment of pregnancy. Once I realized the pattern, I began to wonder how often I do that with God. I pray for some trial to end, I pray to just get through something, or I pray for more knowledge and experience so that I can do better the next time. The truth is, perhaps I could consider being more grateful for the trying, challenging, painful times, knowing they will transform me into something different and better. Perhaps I could consider looking for those beacons of hope in the midst of darkness in life – the way suffering can bring me closer to others who suffer; the people God puts in my path who offer comfort – even if I am not good at receiving that comfort; the intimacy I experience with God in the tortured prayers of the experience.
Perhaps what I am talking about sounds trite – consider the silver lining, or when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. But what I am slowly realizing is that God can sanctify those difficult times, transforming them and us into something entirely different. But God requires of us many things – to be vulnerable, to be more critically observant, to expect God to be pointing to something small, but something really great. I do not know if I will ever master this way of being, particularly in difficult times, but I appreciate the reminder this week. And now, I’m off to go rub my belly and smile some more.