At 10 weeks pregnant, I turned a little corner. Until this point, I’ve been feeling surprisingly great. I was extremely nauseous for one single week, but the nausea somehow vaporized and left. I’ve had my energy, I’ve been sleeping great, and overall, I’ve had to remind myself: “Oh yeah, there’s a little person inside me.” I’ve been extremely blessed so far, and I know I have some major prayer warriors asking God to give me a different experience than the one I had with Jackson.*
January 29, 2012 was the first time the fear and sadness crept back into my life, leaving me in puddles of tears while Josh just stroked my hair. It’s very easy to blame hormones. Most things are their fault anyhow, right? And sometimes (as girls all know well), you just need a good cry–with or without a reason–and I was long overdue. But, as my body begins to prepare for its most important purpose, there’s a slight resemblance to what it did when Jackson was forming. And as I faced this last night, searching in the attic for undergarments I hoped to never wear again, the recognizable fear quickly felt like sinking sand.
As I explained to Josh through the tears and gasping breath, the most frustrating part is that the past two years of my life seem to have dissolved in a single evening. We have spent the past two years changing almost everything about our lives. Our church life, our discipline–for ourselves and Jackson, our priorities, our eating habits, our finances. Nothing has been unexamined, and we continue to intentionally shape our lives according to our values. Before Jackson, we lived unexamined lives with very little structure. So much effort, thought, and prayer have been put into our current lifestyle. We still have miles and miles to go, consistently attempting new “Life Management” strategies. But, everything is different from our life two years ago. And our life is hardly recognizable to our reality four years ago when I was pregnant with Jackson. How, then, could all of this disappear, leaving me to feel like it’s 2008 all over again and I’m right back where I started?
It certainly didn’t help that yesterday, Jackson’s behavior seemed to slide into the past as well. It was as if he was two all over again. From battle to battle, obedience seemed to be his last resort rather than any type of inclination. Even though he can look so adorable (thanks to my mom for his new space suit), this child has the ability to test every ounce of control and energy that Josh and I have.
I realized that this is the nature of fear, and it’s precisely where the Enemy wants me to be. He uses every detail to pry at weaknesses, whisper lies, and unravel anything the Lord has tightly woven. The tears were a real and honest release for me, and I’m grateful I have a husband that provides such firm support for the heaviness of my pregnant emotions. But, ultimately, I need to take responsibility for refocusing on what I know to be true: I should not live in fear.
Deut 3:16 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.
Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Romans 8:15 For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “”Abba,” Father.”
Psalm 23:4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
The struggle, for me, is to not live in fear but also prepare myself to what is to come, given the possibility that these pregnancies just might be similar. And I thought this is worth sharing, because I think we all have our own experiences of walking in valleys of shadows. For me, it seems I could be headed to the valley with the darkest shadows I’ve experienced so far**. And I pray that I’m blessed with a different experience. But…if not…perhaps my spirit of confidence in the Lord might make a greater difference in this pregnancy than any physical alteration.
If you have a spirit of fear about something in your life…if you are on the brink of a valley of shadows, or even in the middle of one…I’m asking you to share it with me (not in detail) so I can pray for you as I pray through my own experience. As I prayed last night, I felt closer to God than I have in a long time. I struggled through worship at church yesterday morning, because I couldn’t really feel the presence of God. But tonight, as pain and trial reintroduced themselves, His presence was undeniable as I was crying out my needs and releasing my fears. I was cradled. It’s amazing how real He can seem when our needs are so great and our fears so overwhelming.
Today is a new day, and I was reminded quickly this morning that I am, in fact, in an entirely new and better place with this pregnancy. I will be a different mother to this baby because I’ve been refined and strengthened. I can handle the changes my body undergoes. And even if my perspective is the only thing that is different this time around, that can be enough change to get me through it. If you are fearful, join me in praying against it, especially through the nights of pillow-soaking tears. And when we cry, let it be to our “Abba, Father” who provides ultimate comfort. And let us always be grateful that tomorrow is always a new day.
*You know who you are, and I appreciate your prayers MORE than I could ever express.
**I recognize that so many people–many of which are dear friends–have experienced such traumatic life experiences, several involving difficult and even life-threatening pregnancies. I don’t mean to sound ungrateful for my health and the blessing of new life. But, for me, the experience of pregnancy and the long, uphill postpartum period was emotionally dark and traumatic in its own way.