Nine Months of Gospel Grace
The dream of becoming a momma is embedded deeply in the fabric of a woman's heart. I remember caring for my baby dolls when I was a child as if they had life and breath in them! As the years progressed and I grew older, this longing continued to grow and strengthen. If you asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, the answer was always simple and always the same - "I want to be a wife and a mom!" Regularly I would have conversations with friends about how many kids we wanted to have someday. My answer was usually five, on average. Everything about marriage, pregnancy, and motherhood looked so glamorous and easy from the outside! As a single woman, I would have done anything to have the privilege of a ring on my finger, a baby on my hip, and a husband to love. If you are single and reading this post, you know this deep, unfulfilled longing all too well! If you are married and childless, you also know the deep, unfulfilled longing. We all have experienced, or are currently experiencing, a hunger for something that we don’t have. Often, our unmet longings become the object of our affection and we miss the beauty of the here and now, the present abundance of blessings God showers on us each day. When I was single, I specifically remember trudging through these seasons with the Lord. I felt as if I was in sinking sand at times. God lifted me out faithfully each and every time the mire trapped my ankles and I could no longer move. Even in marriage, the struggle continued. I love my husband whole-heartedly, but the longing for children began to take hold in my heart around year one of marriage. Every woman with a pregnant belly made my heart ache, and pregnancy looked so perfect and wonderful. I couldn’t wait until the day my belly was rounded with a little one inside!
Most of the dreams that we fantasize in our hearts end up being different than what we imagined when they become reality. In marriage, I didn’t realize how humbling and sanctifying it would be to lay down my own desires for my husband. Marriage takes a lot of hard work. But this kind of work has the deepest, soul-satisfying rewards! I quickly realized that my marriage wouldn’t always come easily. I would have to choose Christ first every day in order for it to last and be strong. Every unmet longing we have is answered in Jesus. At each step of my journey, I have had to go back that foundational truth of faith. God is constantly redefining my definition of perfect in this life! Once I begin to understand one aspect, the seasons change and He adds layers and layers of truth on top of that foundation.
At almost two years of marriage, we found out we were pregnant. God began rewriting the script of what I thought pregnancy was going to look like from the moment we looked at the positive lines on the pregnancy test. In all my dreaming as a child of how perfect pregnancy was going to be, the Lord slowly started opening my eyes to the joys of knowing Him through each step of the journey. Little did I know, the journey would be a bumpier, more humbling one than I could have imagined.
The first truth that I learned in pregnancy (and in marriage) was this: It’s not about me.
When I was getting married, the majority of people told me that I could do absolutely whatever I wanted because the day was all about me. Our society has made the engagement period a giant excuse to revolve the world around ourselves as the brides. Nowhere does Scripture point to this. As a matter of fact, throughout Scripture, the wedding day is centered around the groom. In the Bible, the bridegroom represents Christ and the bride represents the church. The marriage ceremony is about us waiting on Him and preparing ourselves for the day He will come to claim His bride forever! My husband and I viewed our wedding day as an opportunity to bless those who would attend and be a worshipful fragrance to the Lord. The ceremony was not about us. In the same way, pregnancy is not about me, either.
The first trimester was filled with exhaustion and a little bit of nausea. I was forced to give up coffee (one thing I enjoy each morning), and had to immediately start slowing down. My body was being shared by a tiny human that God was knitting together! Every morning and afternoon nap I was reminded it is not about me. On top of the bodily changes, I began to realize how many friends and women around me were trying to get pregnant. Just because my pregnancy test was positive didn’t mean I could talk about our journey with no regards to their hearts. As the body of Christ, we are to care for those around us and pray for our brothers and sisters. This journey has been a process of praying deep prayers for our child and for friends and women all over who are battling infertility. Pregnancy is not about me. It is an opportunity to pray, to love, and to believe God for His miraculous work in us!
The gospel reminds us over and over again of what Christ has done for us. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 tells us “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God with your body.” Pregnancy is about knowing Jesus more deeply and making Him known. What better way to share of His mercy and grace than through our changing bodies? Psalm 127:3a tells us that children are a “heritage from the LORD.” They are a trust, a stewardship, a gift from the mighty Maker of the heavens and the earth. Raising a child, even while they are still in the womb, is not a light task. It is an opportunity to praise God with every ounce of energy we have and to give up the right to ourselves.
Pregnancy is not perfect.
This one came as a little bit of a shock to me! I have always seen pregnant women as incredibly beautiful! Even though I had heard of things like morning sickness, exhaustion, and all the other symptoms that can come with carrying a baby, I pushed them back in my mind and still viewed pregnancy as perfection. As I began to walk the journey of growing a little one in my womb, I realized all too quickly that pregnancy is not perfect. Nothing and no one is perfect apart from Jesus. Pregnancy has revealed a lot of insecurities that I assumed I was past. One insecurity was with my body. By about 20 weeks, I still was barely showing. I began to fear that I would never show and was embarrassed by my lack of a rounded belly (read my story here). Then when my stomach began to grow, I began to fear it was getting too big! Insecurity is always irrational. The Lord has had to show me over and over again that I look to Him and not to the mirror for my worth. Even in pregnancy, comparison can be an issue. We must look to our Creator and find our hope in the gospel and not through blogs or Instagram images. Pregnancy is not perfect, only Jesus is. And pregnancy has pointed me to Him in more ways than I could have imagined!
Pregnancy is preparation for a task even greater than parenting.
Nine months. 40 weeks. It seems like such a long time when you are looking at a test at 5 weeks and have about 35 more to go! In the beginning, I wanted the weeks to speed up so I could find out the gender of our child and feel him/her kicking in my womb! Once my belly began to grow quickly, I wanted time to slow down to embrace the feelings and get prepared! Every week of pregnancy is ordained by God. It has a gospel-centered purpose to prepare us for the holy task of motherhood and discipleship. Being a momma is more than just changing diapers, doing laundry, and making school lunches. It is a daily calling to raise up disciples, little champions of the Word who love Jesus. It is an opportunity to teach the gospel over and over again both to ourselves and our children. Pregnancy is preparation for a life of service, just like Jesus served and gave His life up for us.
Philippians 2:4-7 reminds us of this:
“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.”
Pregnancy is an emptying of self and a filling with a beautiful responsibility from the Lord. We cannot be mothers or fathers, wives or husband, sisters or brothers, apart from the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit. We desperately need Jesus.
Pregnancy reminds me I am not in control.
In college, I was meeting with my mentor, Mrs. Carla, and expressing to her how worried I was about the future. I had just graduated college with no boyfriend and no official direction on what to do with my life. She looked at me squarely in the eye and told me I had a control issue. When I realized I was not in control, I resorted to complaining and blaming the Lord for not revealing His plans. That same control issue is one I daily have to battle and refute with the truth of God. Pregnancy has been another reminder of this! In the first trimester, I worried about the baby. All the way until the 14th week, every little change made me wonder if everything was okay. Then after that I worried about the growth of the baby, the symptoms of my body, and how we were going to be parents to this tiny little human. Every step of the way God has reminded me that I am not in control. He is. And life is much better when we let Him take the driver’s seat. He knows what’s best!
In the long run, I have no say over what my child looks like or how he is seated in my belly (currently our little guy loves to be breech!). I have no say over his eye color, his personality or his height! This is all God’s doing and He deserves to be praised for His master craftsmanship of knitting together our baby boy.
Lastly, pregnancy is sanctifying.
Sanctification is God’s will for us (1 Thessalonians 4:3). It is the process of becoming more like Christ. Every single day we are being sanctified - changed from our human tendencies into men and women who reflect the heart and nature of Christ! Pregnancy (along with marriage) is a part of that sanctification process. Once we have given our lives to Christ, we begin a life-long process of being molded into His likeness. We are justified by faith and sanctified through His Word and power. All 40(ish) weeks of pregnancy are sanctifying. In the beginning, I couldn’t wait for my belly to grow! And now that I am at 35 weeks, I can’t imagine it getting any bigger. I no longer sleep through the night, and regularly have backaches. Each backache has caused me to lean on Christ for my strength, comfort and peace in ways I never have had to before. God’s will is for us to know Jesus and make Him known in whatever stage we are in life. It is humbling and it is holy. I have had to slow down my routine by drastic measures and prepare to take a leave from work so that I can care for my child. Even in the humbling nature of it, the joy that comes along with the process is undeniably incredible!
My husband and I know that we are about to embark in a season of little to no sleep and that we are currently parents forever. We know that life is about to change in ways we could never even imagine. We know that travel will be harder, date nights will take more planning, and that life just got more expensive. We have been told these things by so many well-meaning people. However, we are choosing to fix our eyes on the things that will last forever. We are choosing to fix our eyes in Jesus in it all. Marriage, pregnancy, and parenthood are not about us; they are about Christ. We long to keep our eyes in focus on what lasts for eternity and not just on the present changes. We don’t want to miss the glory of the gospel in these past nine months and in the years to come.
The gospel gives us the grace we need when we’ve slept only a few hours (or minutes). The gospel gives us the wisdom we need when we will be training a toddler. The gospel gives us the patience we need when the days get harder and fuller and more complicated. The gospel gives us the joy we need when we have no idea what we are doing, but we know the One who does.
The gospel is what has kept our hearts full and our eyes on eternity. I don’t want to miss the joys of knowing Jesus more in this season and the ones to come. I’ve said this throughout singleness, marriage, and now pregnancy, but it is all about Jesus. And I long to know His fullness today, tomorrow, and in eternity to come, both in these 40 weeks and in the days ahead.
Living in the gospel of grace,