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Friday, October 01, 2010

Motherhood and the Cross

Being pregnant and (quite) sick has definitely provided me with a lot of time to think about children and what they do to you. Ha! The more I see in the news and hear online and experience in the world around me, the sadder I become at the idea that children are not as valued in today's society. They are seen more as an inconvenience than a blessing. We think more about ourselves, our jobs, our likes and dislikes than we do about the statement that God makes that children are a heritage from Him. (Ps. 127:3)

But even we as Christians who say we believe that children are a treasure rather fail to act like it at times. We find ourselves wanting to apologize for having more than others think we ought to have. We refer to them in less than flattering terms. We let them have their own way just so we don't have to work at correcting them and exhausting ourselves in the process. (And we complain when they make us sick for weeks upon endless weeks while working on developing those 10 cute little fingers and 10 cute little toes!)

Jonathan and I were talking about what it was like when we were expecting our first. (Cue the cooing.) "Ooooh, we're going to have a baby." And that's where our thoughts stopped. We were going to have a baby. We would hold it and think it was cute. Our vision, you might say, was limited.

This time it's a bit different. We have four years of parenting under our belts and added Bookworm2. Now we're more like, you know, parents. (Less so than some, more so than others. I can't win in any kind of comparison games, so I'm not here to try, k?) Sure, they start out cute. But they don't really stay that way without a huge amount of WORK! We've been impressed over the past four years that we didn't just "have a baby" - we were given a life to steward. That, my friends, is a whole 'nother ball game!

Parenting is work. (Did I mention this?) Hard work. Lots of work. It's a daily, exhausting task of correcting, encouraging, maintaining and developing a little person's worldview. That's tough stuff! Having children isn't about adding to your collection of possessions - it's about giving your life away. When you get married, you readjust your thinking and start having to work with someone else's opinions to cause life to continue running smoothly. When you have children, you give away what's left of your life. Forever.

This time, as I'm pregnant and confined to my bed or the couch, I'm much more content to be sick (most of the time. I may have had one or two less charitable moments.) I do recognize that it's a worthy use of my time to lay in bed and let this little one grow. The possibilities that this little LIFE within me possess are unfathomable. I believe God has a great plan in mind for this person and I have the benefit and blessing of carrying and tending to the life. That's a huge deal! It's not an inconvenience.

So when I'm sitting in the bathroom, wondering when I'll be released from this small and now ever-so-unpleasant room, I realize something. The only reason I think children are a blessing is because they come at such a price. It's not just pregnancy or an adoption process that makes them a blessing. It's the constant struggle to die to self and submit to the cross and accept the responsibility that we, as parents, have been given. It's a painful sacrifice at times. It's tiring. But sometimes the only way we can recognize what it truly good is to have it rise up in conflict with something that isn't. When we see good and evil compared, we can make declarations of truth such as the fact that children are indeed a treasure from the Lord.

It's the agony of the acquisition that makes us say, "Oh wow. This is worth it." And then it's the daily grind that causes you to intentionally and forcefully (and daily!) say (outloud whenever possible), "My child, you are a blessing!"

Of course, the cross itself is the picture of the worst agony. But when we see the cross in conflict with death, finally conquering it, we can say of the truth of the resurrection that it is a blessing beyond our wildest imagination. In the pain, we find our freedom.

That's how I feel about morning sickness. In the pain, I find the joy. I know it means less "me" time than ever before. I know my responsibility to my family is growing. I know I will need to learn how to steward my time even more effectively. I will continue to be stretched (pardon the pun), to learn and to grow. But in all of that, I find freedom in become the person that God has designed me to be. How could I be anything but grateful for that?

And so there is another day of dying to self as fighting an uphill battle against food. I'm not always successful in keeping a positive attitude and so I write this to remind myself that the Refiner's Fire is to be welcomed, not avoided. Things that are worth being a part of - like the life of another - are worth some discomfort. It is a faith that ends up costing me something. Motherhood and the cross. The former needs the latter. Without it - I know I wouldn't make it!

Parenting isn't what I used to think it was. It's a great deal of hard work, as I've spelled out above. And the world isn't very helpful in encouraging motherhood. Stay at home moms in particular are constantly being called upon to justify their sacrificial decision to stay home and nurture a family. The world offers temporary praise in the form of corporate success and perhaps larger bank accounts. But that's temporary and I can't just look at the momentary distractions - the potential jobs, friends and social opportunities. I have to look at the end. And so I won't be moved away from the truth and the fact that the greatest thing I could ever do with my life is to be married to Jonathan and raise a family with him. Hands down, bar none, this is it folks. I will never work harder. I will never be more challenged. I will never receive a greater reward than stewarding the lives of my children and then releasing them to pursue the things that God has for them. Home is where my blessing is to be found. The world can offer me nothing so beautiful as the faces of my three children and the life partnership with Jonathan. The world, quite simply, cannot offer me the victory of the cross and all that that entails as a person, as a woman, as a mother, as a parent. It's a HARD road. But it's the best choice I could ever make.

22 comments:

Janet said...

This is awesome encouragement for today...

I do hope you start feeling better soon.

stephanie @ Simple Things said...

Like! : )

Anna (Diary of an Eccentric) said...

What a wonderful post! And congrats!

Annette W. said...

Great post. This morning at Bible study we were discussing how people want to have babies, but they don't want to be parents.

I hope I am appreciative during my next pregnancy!

Barbara H. said...

All I can say is Amen. Great post, Carrie.

mary bailey said...

Carrie, what a moving post! Yes, yes, yes! You are a mother who actually *cherishes* her children, as I do my child. Every single day I think about it how very much I wanted this baby and how blessed I am that God trusted us enough to give him to us for this season. He's 11 now, and parenting is harder now than it was when he was infant! But I wouldn't trade this life as wife and mother for anything. Thank you for the encouragement about being a SAHM. I'm sorry that you are experiencing such sickness this time around, but I feel blessed that you shared your feelings and attitude about it.

Sky said...

I loved this post. I shouted "amen!" in my head quite a few times!
Here's to being a mom, the toughest, hardest job in the world!

ibeeeg said...

what a great, heartfelt post.

I wish you well throughout this pregnancy.

Amy said...

This topic that you are discussing is something so very dear to my heart!
Thanks for this beautifully writtne post! Praying you feel better soon! :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the great encouragement. "Morning sickness" is my faithful friend these days, as well. It was encouraging to read your thoughts- I can't wait to go and remind my kids that they are a blessing! Our number 5 is coming as a surprise in a time of other big decisions...this pregnancy is a constant reminder to me that God is in control, not me. God chose this time and this blessing for our lives- your post was a great encourager.

"Be not weary in well-doing" :-)

Jen N

bekahcubed said...

What an excellent reflection! Now it's my turn to have nothing else to say :-)

Cacey said...

AMEN! Parenting is so much harder then I ever expected and I get so bogged down in daily life that I start feeling sorry for myself. Thanks for the reminder to be Christ centered in my thinking!

Cassandra said...

What an awesome post. :)

Stephanie's Mommy Brain said...

Amen! Amen! Amen! Giving up (or delaying) my dreams and desires to pour my life into my family is hard, exhausting work. But I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. Sometimes I look at my kids and wonder what life would be like if we had stopped with the 2 boys. Then I would have missed out on the girlie who loves to wear skirts so she can twirl around the living room and the almost 2 year old who gives the best slobbery kisses ever! So much blessing to lose for the sake of my own ambitions. I get a lot of comments because my 4 are only 5 years apart, but I wouldn't change a thing!

Katrina @ Callapidder Days said...

Oh Carrie, I love this post. Love it. I've already read it three times, starred it in my reader, and will read it several more, as I let it all sink in. I admit, I don't always do a very good job at sacrificing and denying myself, but what an incredible calling it is and how I pray that God would continue to shape and grow me.

Bluerose said...

What a wonderful post!! I'm ashamed to say that I'm the complete opposite. I was EXTREMELY sick with my first one, but I was so excited, I dealt with it. And then with such a short pregnancy, staying sick the whole time, and everything else, I've been depressed with my sickness and being so weak with my second one.
I love my babies and would do anything for them, but I've had a very difficult time enjoying my pregnancy. It's just been so much harder this time around!
Your post was just what I needed, though!! :)

Carrie said...

Bluerose - Thanks for your comment. And let me be clear - I am not enjoying this pregnancy in the sense that I have a lovely glow about me and a wonderful smile. I really don't LIKE throwing up. At all. I'd just as soon get over this phase. I'm not one of those people that just dance about enjoying their whole pregnancy.

That's not what I'm saying at all.

I'm just realizing that this is necessary. It's the faith that costs something. The end result is worth it and there is blessing even in this. It's about my learning to be content in this situation and recognizing the prize that is at the end of this road.

I don't think Paul enjoyed his thorn -but he recognized God left it in his side for a purpose. I get THAT much which is all I get for the moment and I'm just....processing outloud to remind myself that this time of sickness is as equally valuable -if not more so - than the time when I'll feel myself again.

ibeeeg said...

Carrie, what you just said was beautifully said. Yes, pregnancy does take its toll, especially when you are in the depths of morning sickness. Keeping the ultimate prize at the end of this trial is important. I really like how you used Paul's suffering. In a way, pregnancy lends itself to a type of suffering. You are growing God's gift, and blessing. I will say, succumbing to the suffering instead of keeping the blessing in mind is easy to do. I pray you continue to see the N/V as a necessity, and mostly I pray that this suffering goes away very soon for you.

Jennifer, Snapshot said...

Soooooo hard. Amen to that.

Chef Crista said...

15 weeks along now and starting to really consider what is this journey that Dave and I have embarked on. Thank you for the perspective from a few years down the road. I really appreciate your thoughts here!

Lisa writes... said...

Amen and amen.

Bluerose said...

I just came back to catch up and came back to this post.

I absolutely agree! I'm doing much better now(mentally and emotionally), but I've had a hard time accepting God's plan, I guess, for my pregnancy. I admit, I've been so jealous of those women who have not a bit of trouble or sickness in their pregnancies. That's so wrong, I know. It's still hard, though. I'm finally getting to the point of enjoying the baby growing inside of me. And thankful that God has blessed me with another precious child, even if that means a few rough months. I think my first pregnancy has affected my whole family, especially my husband and I, in different ways.
I really do admire your strength, though. I'm so glad I found your blog! I've enjoyed reading the pregnancy posts, and book reviews!! I think God blessed us to be pregnant at the same time, so I could get inspiration from you! :)Cause I definitely haven't sent any inspiration out lately!

I hope you are feeling better!! :)

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