As promised, those deep thoughts on waiting for a baby during the holy waiting of advent.
A church-going child of the 80s and 90s, I spent many-an-advent listening to Amy Grant’s Christmas albums. Tender Tennessee Christmas wraps me in a nostalgia I can’t describe, much to my husband’s dismay (side-shaved-ponytail-sporting, chuck-wearing, crowd-surfing punk that he was, he just can’t get Amy Grant — I play it when he’s out). This morning, though, I was listening to a song from a later album Breath of Heaven while sipping my coffee, thinking about that brave, strong, courageous young girl, Mary.
I thought of her belly feeling heavy, as mine does now, and how she traveled miles and miles on a donkey’s back, and how her own back must’ve ached. I thought of my struggles with fear over labor and birth, though it’s not my first time around the block, and how she was so young, her first child, away from mother and family and things most familiar. I thought of how I’ve woken up with contractions in the middle of the night, my first thought, “Please Lord, not in the darkness! Not in the night watches. I want to birth in the daylight” — and how most of us assume that this was not so for her. And I find myself hoping that God wrapped the dark around her like a blanket, and it was a comfort to her rather than a terror. Did you uphold her, God? Were you with her, right next to her?
I have been struggling with many fears recently, in relation to the pain of birth, the unknowns and lack of control, the crazy-brained days of a newborn. How on earth will I integrate a baby into this already busy family? How will I be able to continue to give love, assurance, attention to my current babies, when there will be one little one, so in need of all of me? (Though Harper still assures me there are TWO babies in there — one for me, and one for her.) While listening to this song today, thinking of our brave predecessor, who carried and birthed and nursed our Savior, my fears of what a new baby will cost me seemed so small and insignificant. What a load she carried, what a cross she bore, to be the tender mother to the Son of God, watch him grow and fulfill his purposes, then suffer as only a mother can when her child breathes his last.
Today, it seemed obvious that I have little to fear, with Mary’s God on my side. The same God who carried her through, gave her a place to welcome her son and humble people to greet him in his first hours — this God is also with me, and the holiness of that simple birth, thousands of years ago, makes my own birth such a small offering. I want to see it as such: something I can give, something I can thank Him with, as we open our hearts to make room for His son.