When I was a little girl, I would throw up every time I got a shot. I would worry so much and so far in advance of the actual needle that when the time came to receive it, my muscles would be so tense that the doctor would have to jab harder just to get the damned thing into my flesh. Hence, it was twice as painful and traumatic as it needed to be.
As a woman, I’ve learned that physical lesson over and over again in childbirth. Labor pains are, well, painful. But they do a good work, and if you resist and tense up, they hurt worse and worse. Delivery 101. Not only that, but labor itself winds up taking longer. Longer, and more painful. Who wants that? I was taught–and I learned–to relax, to appreciate the waves of agony for what they were doing: bringing a blessing into my life.
So here I am. Older, but no wiser. Learning all over again how to relax, how to submit, how to stop striving against the pain of this life and instead let it flow over me, let it wash me clean, allow it to bring a blessing into my life. The more I thrash and scream, the longer it takes, and the more painful it is. Why do I do it?
Lack of trust.
I have a deep seated fear that I will simply give birth to the wind and nothing more, that the agony is worthless and void.
This is a lie.
If I will but persevere, if I will trust the one who is orchestrating the music and madness, then I will find that there is great purpose in the pain, that it is bringing with it a great blessing.
Can I trust that much? Can I trust that when things become even more intense and I think I cannot go on one more moment, the event is even at that moment on the horizon? That birth is imminent?
I remember how comforting it was during labor and delivery to hold my beloved’s hand, how he let me crush it as each contraction overtook me, how he didn’t leave my side but whispered words of encouragement even as I struggled. What a beautiful metaphor for the one who stands beside us through the mess and muck and into the glory.
Because it is that: messy. Oh, how very, very messy. And so frightening at times. But if we listen, we can hear the whispers of the encourager as he tells us to persevere.
For so many years now I couldn’t hear the whispers over my own cries. I felt abandoned and distraught. But I believe they were always there. And I’m determined to listen once more.