I write about pregnancy a lot lately because I find it so consuming. Right now it is the most time consuming, physically challenging, energy demanding, emotionally draining area of my life. However much I feel like it should be a side thing I just add on to normal life, that is not my reality. It has also been my primary platform for learning, a lens that colors my whole view of life. Thus it’s pretty much always on my mind.
One reason I think pregnancy is difficult is because of the lack of control. Before you even get pregnant, the process begins. Maybe it is a surprise baby that you totally weren’t prepared for, or maybe it is a baby that was a long time in coming. Either way you may find yourself saying, “I did all the right things - why did it still not go my way?”
Then there is the first pregnancy scare or pregnancy loss, the frightening diagnosis - the first realization that you have so little control over this new life growing inside you. My confidence has actually decreased each time I’ve been pregnant, likely because I know more and more people who have experienced loss at every stage. Beginning this pregnancy I honestly felt like there was about a 40% chance I would actually end up holding a baby at the end. The actual odds are much better, but aside from a few obvious areas, there’s really not much you can do to increase them.
We also have little control over how our body handles pregnancy. We can make choices that have an impact, but in the end, some people will throw up for 9 months despite their best efforts, and some people will feel great with very little effort, with a lot of variation in the middle. Things we used to be able to do, like get restful sleep or climb stairs without pain, slowly fall by the wayside. Which is unfortunate if you happen to live on the fifth floor.
And perhaps what I find most difficult, I feel out of control of my every day life. I try to make lists so I will remember everything, but things still elude me. Or I forget to even look at my list. More than one day of missed laundry means no diapers, more wet clothes than will fit on the laundry porch, and all that is remaining is 15 unmatched socks. It is amazing how fast the house descends into messy chaos. And darn it all, people expect to eat everyday! So many simple things that don’t cause much trouble in normal life start to snowball as soon as I am feeling bad. I have to ask for help or leave it undone, and I hate either of those options.
I hate feeling out of control. And as I’ve mentioned, I don’t love pregnancy. But I have decided - it’s probably good for me. Sometimes we all need to come to a point (or many points) in our lives when we can’t control it all. The illusion is up. We’re not as great as we thought.
The realization comes in all kind of forms. Illness. Infertility. Moving overseas. The “why are you still single?” question. The first time your child acts like Ruler of the World. Unemployment. Returning ‘home” from overseas. Honestly, there are so many things in life that humble us, that make us cry out, that bring us to the place we perhaps needed to be in the beginning. A place of realizing “I can’t do it all” AND “It’s not all on me anyway.”
I just finished re-reading a memoir called As Soon as I Fell, by Kay Bruner. I read it last year for the first time, but it already merited a re-read. There is one particular section at the end I read through several times. Kay was an overseas worker, working on translation and raising her family in the Solomon Islands until her whole life fell apart. As she walked through a painful process of breaking and healing, she shared an experience of talking to a pastor at a retreat.
I went and sat down in front of a pastor I’d never met before, and haven’t seen since. I wanted to tell him a little of my story, but all I could do was [tell him my work] before I started sobbing.
I sat and cried for a long time, and the only other thing I could get out was: “When will it ever be enough?” It was as if I hoped that, one last time, I might seize back control.
That man looked at me and said, “It is enough already.”
With those words, a sense of freedom and peace came over me, like I had never known. For the first time I actually experienced the reality of Jesus’ words, “It is finished” on the cross. Those words covered everything. Everything is done already. God has taken care of it. Sure, there is work, and I can participate. But I’m going to walk in the cool of the evening and know that it’s not all up to me. God is in control. I am not. It is good.
[Linking up with Velvet Ashes: Control]