Finding Blessings In Hard Times

Reposted from Amy's blog, Somewhere In-Between
Almost everything in life can be related to the journey of childbirth. At least for me. Probably because I am steeped so strongly in the childbearing life, I see most things through these lenses. But really, childbirth is like the first chapter in the book of life. Or more like a map book for later journeys. It is a compass, a toolbox, the foundation for the life that you build upon it. Labor and birth can be referred to in most any circumstance.
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A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. – John 16:21
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See, even Jesus referred to childbirth for the circumstance he was in. Jesus, a man who never had children of his own, used childbirth as a metaphor in talking with his disciples; men who also probably did not have children of their own.

If he could do it, I figure so can I.

So, why do I see life as relating to childbirth so much? Well, because life can be hard. It’s a lot of hard work, but the end result is always worth the hard work, even if it doesn’t turn out just as you expect it to. Going through the hard work of childbirth prepares you for the hard work of parenting. The hard work of parenting prepares you for the hard work of everything else. It’s not ever easy-breezy. There will always be wonderful moments and difficult moments, but childbirth is where those tools are formed for dealing with the rest of your life.
When I talk with anyone about Christian Childbirth, I always bring up the transfiguration I had throughout my four labors. And it’s interesting to me to see that how I handled my labors mirrors how I’ve handled life. It was a long process for me to change over the years from fear to acceptance, but it was worth it, like it always is, in the end.

With my first labor, each time a contraction hit, I would pray for the Lord to take away the pain. I couldn’t handle it, I didn’t know what to do with it, it was too much and I wanted it gone. And that’s how I handled most problems that came up in my life at that time. I wanted it to be taken away. I didn’t know how to handle much. I didn’t want to go through anything difficult, I just wanted someone else to come and rescue me from whatever it was.

When my second labor came, I was more mature, more prepared. This time, when contractions hit, I asked the Lord to make them easier for me. I knew that I could not ask for them to be taken away. I knew I would have to deal with them somehow, but I just wanted them to not be too hard. And I was at a point in my life where I was facing more difficult situations. I was having to handle more, and could proudly deal with some stuff, but did not want things to be too hard. I could handle a lot, but not the really difficult stuff. That, I asked the Lord to ease for me, to make softer, smoother, gentler.

By the time my third labor approached, I had been through some difficult times. I knew that I had more strength, that I could handle more. I prayed through that labor for the Lord to give me the strength to deal with each contraction. I knew that I would need to get through some rough times, and while I didn’t enjoy it, I knew that I could do it if He gave me the strength to deal with it. And that’s how I got through that labor, and how I got through the post partum depression that followed, and the autism-spectrum diagnosis, and a husband who was distanced and overwhelmed by his own life. I prayed for strength while wishing that it all would just be taken from me.

My fourth and last labor was quite different from my other three. I had read a book during that pregnancy that changed my outlook on things. I had read that a heart of thanksgiving was what precluded a heart of joy. Being thankful before being joyful instead of being thankful once I was joyful was a profound idea for me. As each contraction hit, I thanked the Lord. I thanked Him for what the contraction was doing to my body, and to my baby. I thanked Him for the opportunity to prepare my baby for the outside world, to prepare me to mother this child as he or she came into the world. I praised Him for His perfect design for my body and for this baby’s body, and for my life. And it was an entirely different experience. It was not pain-free, but it was a joyous occasion. It blew me away.

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"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:4-6
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You would probably assume that my life followed in accordance to what I had learned during that labor right away. But, sad to say, it has taken me four years to apply what I learned during my last labor to my life. Now that I’m here, I can say that living a life of thanksgiving is the best way of living. I stayed a long time at the phase of asking God for the strength to get by, not realizing how much easier it would be if I would just thank Him for the opportunities to grow from every situation.

Yes, I still need His strength. But I no longer need to ask for it. I already have access to it. When I find every little way that He has blessed me throughout each and every day, I find that the hard things are not too hard. He is my portion. He is enough for me. Through labor, through life. His strength flowing through me will never give out. And I relish in all of the opportunities to grow from the experiences I journey through. Each experience gives me tools for the next phase of my life. And if I gave up, handed over the growing pains to someone else, I would not have the tools to handle what was waiting for me around the next bend of life.

1 comment:

Shanon Pruden said...

Amy, thank you so much for sharing this. It is beautiful! I am so glad to be able to read your learning process and now that I think about it, my births are a lot like my life lessons as well! haha! So neat to think about!

Thank you again for posting on the blog! I pray your post and perspective are a blessing!

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