As Juris Mater and MaryAlice discussed in their recent posts, many of us Builders have been dealing with adversity lately. Personally, I have been feeling pretty down and overwhelmed and my emotional state has a strong physical componenet. Back in early February, I began the marathon of pregnancy in sprint mode--horrible nausea, hospital IV and anti-nausea meds, and even bedrest due to a large cyst. When Easter rolled around, the fog lifted briefly, I was removed from bedrest, and I started to feel a bit better. But soon other health issues began to plague me-- anemia, hip problems, and general circulation issues in my leg (to name a few!), and I'm only 21 weeks! Having started the marathon sprinting, I'm now dead tired and the distance to the finish line is downright depressing.
I spend my free moments wondering how I will survive the hot summer. What will it be like in August when the heat really kicks in and I'm huge and even more uncomfortable? How can I possibly go through another labor and delivery when my body is already falling apart? What about future pregnancies? How will I ever have another baby? Should I ever have another baby? What about my health? Will my circulation issues ever resolve? As these questions have come to dominate my thoughts, my emotional state continued to spiral downward.
I was sharing all my worries, physical complaints, and general concerns with B-Mama the other day and she gave some great advice. She said, "I have a rule. I don't talk about future pregnancies at all when I am currently pregnant." Great point.
And then I began to realize that I have been spending an awful lot of time worrying about future events, rather than just living in the present.
When I suffer, I tend to look toward the future, toward the light at the end of the tunnel. My forward thinking allows me to see that the suffering is only temporary, as the future usually looks brighter than the present. But this isn't always the case. There are times when our suffering is so intense primarily because there isn't an obvious light at the end of the tunnel (or else that light is so far away we can't even get a faint glimpse of its presence).
6 years ago, I was pregnant with my daugther Therese. Therese had been diagnosed with anencephaly (a fatal neural tube defect), and I knew that the day we said hello to Therese would also be the day we said goodbye. The days, weeks, and months of my pregnancy passed very slowly, and I experienced great anxiety thinking about how I could possibly watch my daughter die. The final days of my pregnancy were spent in a sleepless state, waiting for Therese to arrive, and worrying about how I could ever say goodbye.
And yet, when the time came, the grace was there. When Therese was born and died I experienced the most profound sense of peace I have ever felt in my entire life. I didn't feel one ounce of sadness, fear, or worry. Those moments were perfect and I can honestly say that I have never felt such peace before or since. But the grace didn't arrive in advance. It was there when I needed it, and not a moment sooner.
And this brings me back to my present difficulties. Once again, my sufferings have propelled me into worry and anxiety about the future. But through the guidance of some great friends (thanks B-Mama!), I realized that I don't have the grace to deal with a future pregnancy because I'm not yet there. I don't even have the grace to deal with the hot month of August in my huge, pregnant and malfunctioning body ;-) because it isn't August. But I do have the grace for today. And when the going gets tough, I need to pray harder than ever for the grace to live in the present moment. I need to run the marathon of pregnancy--and motherhood--not one race at a time or one mile at a time, but one stride at a time.
As the late, great Rich Mullins put it: "Step by step you lead me, and I will follow you all of my days."