I distinctly remember, a few weeks after discovering that I was pregnant having the thought, almost unbidden, "This is a good opportunity to practice going through suffering in a way that is a participation with Christ in his redemption of the world."
Yeah, loaded phrase. I don't expect it to be clear at first because there is a wealth of thought and reading behind it. Most of it not my own. (Thanks Aaron.)
Suffice it to say, there is this thread through the letters of Paul that seems constantly to indicate that it it possible for one who has the spirit of Jesus in them to endure suffering in a way that is in fact redemptive, can in fact change thing for the better, just as Christ himself did as he endured suffering. Now to be clear, I don't think that suffering is sent to us by God for this purpose. It's a shitty enough world that it will happen to us all if we just live long enough.
(See there, I said shitty and talked about deep theological ideas in the same post. Bye-bye- Christian and non-Christian readers alike.)
Well, bear with me for a second, because I did have a point of sorts. It's an interesting and exciting enough idea that it begs much further discussion. (But not in this post. There's my email over on the sidebar if you want to email me.)
That being the case I was able to see that this pregnancy, which I expected to be as miserable as all the pregnancies previous, would be a good chance to practice going through things that are hard with grace and love and selflessness, rather than laying on the couch feeling sorry for myself for 9 whole months. I forgot, and then remembered, and then forgot again but remembered more than forgot so far.
But here's the thing. It's been very easy for me this time round. I mean, I still vomited a lot first trimester, my stomach still heaves on it's own when I'm just brushing my teeth. I'm very tired and waiting just a little bit too long to eat causes a battle of epic proportions with the involuntary spasms of my esophagus if I want to keep the contents of my stomach firmly within said stomach. But it's been easy.
My kids have been helpful on occasion and they are older now, but they still neglect their jobs and do their fair share of screaming bloody murder while my head feels like it will explode from the pressure of headache multiplied by sheer volume.
Yet, it feels easier than it ever has to be pregnant.
There is, this time, the sheer logistical nightmare of getting to a daunting number of appointments without a car, a bum ankle which prevents me from using the bus, and the deep need to rely on my in-laws, without which I have no idea how we would get these things done. Seriously they have been such a blessing. Especially the part where it doesn't even occur to them to make me feel stupid for needing to ask. (Yes, I have some messed up childhood stories behind that.)
I still have hormonal moments, like crying on the phone because Aaron called just after I finally lay down with a splitting headache and his words literally sounded like the grown up voice on Charlie Brown was drilling into my head and I didn't understand. But we are better at this than we used to be I suppose. He is patient with me, I know better than to blame him for my own body chemistry. We still really like each other right now, which is unusual for us when I'm pregnant.
I find myself wondering if it really is a much easier pregnancy, as I have been thinking all this time and feeling so grateful for, or is it just that my feeble attempts to remember grace, to cling to Jesus, to go through this without self-pity, have just changed my perception of what is almost the exact same kind of event. Maybe my husband likes me this time around and doesn't silently endure my presence because I'm trying to do this well, to give myself to what needs to be done without complaining, rather than blaming him for everything I feel the minute he walks in the door.
I can't say for certain, but I wonder if it has something to do with it.
Perhaps enduring suffering, such mild suffering as I have experienced anyway, as a redemptive act, as some kind of mystical participation with Christ actually makes the suffering itself easier to endure as well? Perhaps it even changes it into joy?
That would be exciting indeed.
What do you think?