Saturday, November 12, 2011

on pain, joy, and the risk in between

Right now my smallest baby, in-womb, is having all of their needs met by me, all of the time.  Comfort, nutrition, warmth, closeness, safety–it's all there.  I know this little one is content (despite the dramatic dance moves!).  It's a beautiful thing, and I feel satisfied.

32 weeks

Sometimes I think it would be better if they stayed inside.  They'll never be hungry or cold or away from me, never be frustrated or lonely or afraid, never skin their knee, fall off a bike, experience a broken heart, lose a friend, lose a child of their own, feel their body age and decay…

The risk of a mother in releasing her precious, delicately woven, longed for and dreamed of child into a world spinning with chaos–it's the risk of a God who created all of us children to be free - and then released us into our own hands.  If God, infinitely and completely good, had chosen to simply control our thoughts and actions, I'm pretty sure the world would be a much safer place.  It would be a nice place. 

But there's something so much more right and beautiful and expectant in the letting go and letting us be free.

Most of the time I want to shout, "No!  It's not better!  Put us back inside!  This freedom is destroying us!"  Can the beauty and creation within our capacity possibly be worth the violence and greed we commit daily?  I'm barely convinced.

oh boy!
Then I consider marriage.  In wedding yourself to another person who exists in freedom, you are committing one of the greatest acts of vulnerability–making yourself utterly "wound-able".  And we wound each other!  Not even addressing the devastation of divorce, abuse, infidelity, or hardened hearts sharing a bed for 40 years, we still cause each other great pain even when we are trying to love.  Unkind words, demanding expectations, selfish pursuits and resentment are all things I'm guilty of in my own marriage, fairly regularly.  I wound my husband.  He knew very well, standing at the altar saying words of utmost committment to me, a free and broken being, that he would be wounded.  But somehow he believed the risk of pain in laying down his life for me was worth it, because the alternative risked a greater loss of potential beauty and joy. 

Children are another example.  I read a very intense article by a mother of a child born with a brain tumour who lived only a few hours in her arms.  They carried this knowledge through most of the pregnancy.  She writes that opening yourself up to fertility–at all–opens you up to the possibilities of hell.  Some people struggle for years and years to conceive, grieving their empty womb every single month.  Many women experience pregnancy loss, still birth and newborn death; and even if your child survives birth there's no guarantee they won't die before you do.  I can't imagine the heartache of burying your child, no matter how old they are, but that's a reality families face.  There's the pain that living children inflict on their parents, countless stories of broken hearts and isolation - mothers and fathers grieving the loss of children who are still alive.

And we know this.  We know what darkness is possible, we know there are no guarantees of happy endings.  It's not that we think we'll beat the odds and escape heartache.  We just sense that it's better to risk, to confess hope in attempting to bring a child into the world.  It would be crazy to sacrifice all the love and joy and wonder and beauty of a child in order to minimize our life's pain. 

As I've written before, the resurrected body of Jesus still has his scars.  Even God submitted himself in full wound-ability to that which he created, and He will always carry those marks on his body.

So maybe I'll take back what I shouted earlier, I'll allow my growing baby to be free from the safety of my womb and I'll let my little boy be free of the safety of my arms and my home (someday).  I'll let my heart be increasingly free to risk in love of others, to be vulnerable, to be wound-able.  And when pain comes (and it will) I will stop myself from wishing God would take more control of the world and ask how I can use my own freedom to plant and grow more of what His heart intends to see here.


  1. Well put, Becca! I feel with that struggle too and loved the second half of the final sentence. May it be so, Lord Jesus!

    It is hard to believe you are already 32 weeks along! Time marches quickly. I pray you and your dear ones are all well. Take care, friend!



  2. Thank you for stringing all these words together to form such a profound and comforting truths. Quite often you say just the thing that my heart needs to hear. Your words are such a gift!