secret struggles for the first-time pregnant woman | part 1

secret struggles for the first-time pregnant woman | part 1

I say secret not to say that I’ve not shared the struggles I’ve recently walked through with anyone; certainly I have. I suggest secret more so because until walking through them myself, I was largely unaware of their existence. And the more I’ve vulnerably shared my heart with other first-time pregnant women, the more I’ve heard that beloved phrase: me too.

 

I could never presume that your struggle against sin would be the exact same as mine, but I know that no temptation can overtake us that is not common to all man (paraphrase of 1 Cor. 10:13). And with this light, I pray, though your wrestling may look and feel different than it does for me, that you’d find encouragement to press on in the battle you’re facing.

 

And for those of you who aren’t pregnant but one day hope to be, I pray you’ll be a little more prepared for the battle that lies ahead and little more equipped to minister to that lovely lady you know with an ever-growing belly.

 

                                                          belly picture of my sweet Stacy | picture by Sharra Swisher

                                                          belly picture of my sweet Stacy | picture by Sharra Swisher

 

There are certain things about pregnancy that I’ve been content in being a little unprepared for. Things like the need to give yourself a pep talk before tying your shoes or to learn how to shave your left leg with your left hand or to use a 1-2-3 count before turning over in the middle of the night, all because that little angel in your belly is taking up more and more space – these things are less troublesome to learn as I go.

 

But in much more vital areas, I have found unexpected struggles in this season of pregnancy to live faithfully in Christ. Our adversary tailor-makes and personalizes his plans to thwart our steadfastness in the Lord and cause us to stumble. He is crafty and ensures that the temptation he uses on me specifically appeals to the very things I’m prone to love and fear more than our God.

 

So it is with much humility that I share with you the nature of these temptations and how they’ve been a part of my sanctification.

 

Lesson #1

Even though you’re pregnant, life is still not about you.

 

In our culture, for the most part, squeals and tears and celebrations accompany every telling of this good news. I have felt so loved and cared for in this changing time, and the kindness of each person has left a sweet mark in my worship of the Lord.

 

But something that has also influenced this time is this way of caring for pregnant women in our culture that I’ve perceived. In sensitivity to the pregnant woman’s changes, others tend to accommodate her every need or want.

 

You can go to the front of the line; you’re pregnant.

It’s okay that you’re cranky and irritable; you’re pregnant.

Oh no don’t get up! I’ve got it! You just need to rest.

You probably just need a nap; there’s no tired like pregnant tired.

Oh you’re hungry and grumpy and you need to eat at 5 o’clock or else you’ll turn into a monster? Okay then, I’m going to stop everything I’m doing to make sure that happens!

 

I genuinely don’t want to discredit the pure-hearts of those who say things of this nature. I am sure that I said some of these things to a pregnant woman before I became pregnant. I simply want to share how it became a source of temptation for me.

 

After coming fresh out of the Lenten season, where I actively partook in the sufferings of Christ through fasting and self-denial and sacrifice, I found this kind of care to be, well, off. I didn’t know how to process the abundance of the gift of a baby, along with the backbreaking care of all who knew I was pregnant. During Lent, I had learned much about the gift of abstaining and sacrificing to serve others, and the two seemed at odds with one another. I was told to rest often, to eat often even if I wasn’t hungry, and to essentially make sure I was comfortable and feeling well.

 

My heart was in turmoil. I began to slowly but surely take their advice. Letting myself rest and eat often and stay comfortable became more of a priority, because after all, I was caring for the tiny human growing inside of me.

 

I didn’t realize how accustomed I had become to being served until one night where it seemed I had been largely absent from the minds of those preparing dinner. The appetizer for the night was cheese and wine (pregnant women can’t have a lot of soft cheeses nor alcohol), the main course was seafood (of which pregnant women can only have a little), and though dinner was scheduled for 6:00, we did not sit down to eat until 7:45 (I was the 5p.m. reference above).

 

Can I just tell you how my heart (and my belly!) were boiling? My thoughts revolved around me and my wants, and my self-pity grew as I wallowed in how unconsidered I was. And as I took offense in my heart, I grew bitter and frustrated at the lack of honor and consideration these servants had given to a clearly pregnant woman.

 

And as I began to cast judgment, the Holy Spirit whispered, Life is not about you. He drew near, uncovering the lie I’d slowly but surely believed, that if life is about me and my kingdom and enjoying the glory that comes with pregnancy (in our culture at least), then it’s about being served rather than serving.

 

For even the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many. Mark 10:45

 

It’s not easy to share the sinful nature of my heart, but obedience to the Lord trumps concealing sin from the light. And if you’ve read here about serving, you may not have been too surprised.

 

As I repented and asked the Lord to restore my belief in His way – that laying down my life is the way to find it, that sacrificially serving others is the nature of His Kingdom, that resting and taking care of my body and this little life inside me are not ends in themselves for my kingdom but acts of faith and catalysts for His greater purposes – I found such relief.

 

This life was never about me. And in pregnancy, I think we are tempted to believe life is about us. We are faced with such newness in our body and in the way we are treated that giving in to the temptations of being waited on hand and foot, chalking up irritability and impatience to hormones, and demanding our wants be satisfied immediately become all too appealing.

 

But I pray we resist. Giving in to these temptations will only serve to destroy us as we enter full-time motherhood with no days off. We could potentially be tempted to despise our spouse who doesn’t get up in the middle of the night to care for the crying baby. Or as we grow in quietness and laying down our lives, we may be tempted to look for life in time away from our baby, in social media, in a full night’s sleep, etc. Or we might be tempted to pout and wish for acknowledgement because all of the concern that was once for us in the season of pregnancy has now been transferred to our newborn. I am not there yet, but I am thinking I will face these appealing temptations if I believe the lie that life is about me.

 

But when we remember that life is about Christ and serving His Kingdom, we find the grace and strength we need for the days He ordains. We find great reason to rejoice in the seasons of abundance and great reason to rejoice in the seasons of lack because we know both are meant to draw us deeper into His intimate presence and show us more of who He is. We look to Him and not to the ways of this world to comfort us, renew us and restore us.

 

We learn to live in the great privilege of identifying with Him who took on the nature of a servant, bearing in His body the weight of our sin, laying His life down that we might have life in abundance.

 

And we receive the grace He gives to love others well and honor them who graciously desire to serve us. And we don’t take it for granted, nor do we build our little kingdom by it, but in everything, we give thanks to the Lord and look for ways to honor Him and lift high His Name.

 

As the Lord has shown me these truths anew, I wanted to put together some helpful questions you can use to serve a pregnant woman spiritually:

How are you handling this transition?

How can I pray for you?

I know this is a new season; what have been some things you experienced you didn’t expect?

What have you learned so far?

How has your relationship with the Lord grown or changed?

What characteristic of God have you appreciated most during this season?

 

I do not mean to imply stopping to care for her physically; she needs you, sister! All of these changes are a lot to engage at once, and bearing these physical burdens as the body of Christ will serve her well. But as we minister on all levels with the truth of the gospel, what grace it is to know that with every new season, growth is on the horizon. And wow, isn't that true in more ways than one for pregnancy :)

 

grace & peace,

Lauren