Wednesday, April 23, 2014

dear mother-in-waiting

mother in waiting

Dear mother-in-waiting,

I refer to you as a mother-in-waiting rather than a mom-to-be or expectant mother because the truth is, you are already a momma. You've been a mother since the day that your tiny little babe was conceived and the Lord began knitting he or she together in your very womb. "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." Psalm 139: 13-14. 

I'm writing to you today because I am currently in your ranks, at your side, pregnant with a child of my own. Pregnancy is an interesting and beautiful time, isn't it? We have months and months to think about what our baby will be like, how we are going to be as a mother, what needs to be done in expectation of this babe's arrival, what color the nursery will be, how many onsies to add to our registry, and yet how much time do we spend preparing physically, spiritually and mentally for the labor that will bring this baby into the world?

I want to encourage you. As you prepare for this new baby, I want to encourage you to also prepare for the actual arrival of of your babe: intentionally prepare for your labor. This is not something to take lightly. It's not something that is just going to happen. Granted, it will happen. But will it happen on purpose? Will you be intentional about your labor?

You see, as a mother-in-waiting, you have been called to a purpose. You have been called to motherhood. And your labor is something that you have been called to do as a part of that calling. Momma, don't you want to do it well? Don't you want to glorify the Lord who has called you to it? Because, He has called you to your labor.

We read birth stories all the time. They usually consist of the actual events that happen over the course of 12 or so hours of labor and end with the birth. And for some, birth stories can be encouraging (for others not so much). But I fear that the message too many of these stories conveys is just that labor is hard. Labor is painful. Labor is unknown. Labor is too hard. Labor is too painful. Labor is too unknown.

Momma, especially first-time momma, please know that the pain you will experience, and the work you will do in labor is not without a purpose. Is labor hard? Yes, that's why it's called labor. Is it painful? Most of the time, yes. But is it more than you can handle? Absolutely not. The Lord designed and created your body to carry your child and to give birth to your child. You absolutely can handle what He has called you to.

la·bor: expenditure of physical or mental effort especially when difficult or compulsory

I have this feeling that most of us view labor as a part of our pregnancy that we just have to go through. It's just part of being pregnant and having a baby. But momma, hear me, it's so much more than that! It's not just part of being pregnant, it's part of your calling to be a mother. It's part of the sacrifice you are called to make for your child. You have been called by God to labor for your child, for His purpose, for His glory.

Nevertheless, each one should retain the place in life that the Lord assigned to him and to which God has called him. 1 Corinthians 7:17

Pregnancy is the season you are in. It's the place in life where you have been assigned. At the point in which your labor begins, your labor has been assigned to you. You can't run from it, you can hide from it, and the most obedient thing you can do in it, is embrace it. He has purposed it for you. He has called you to it. And if all of that is true, if God has called you to your labor, don't you want to do it in complete and total obedience to Him? Don't you want it to glorify God?

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. Colossians 3:17 (emphasis mine)

What it's all going to come down to, in that moment, when your labor begins, when your baby begins to make his or her way into the world, is whether or not you accept your call and embrace the work set before you. I can tell you from personal experience that yes, labor is painful. But the best way to approach the pain is to accept it as pain with a purpose. Because you know what? You won't be doing it alone. Oh no, He doesn't call us to something and then leave our side. He will be with you at every step, at every point. 

He [the Lord] will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. Isaiah 40:28-31

I also want to encourage you, that if you'll let it, your labor can be a means by which the Lord disciplines you. And I don't mean discipline in the sense that you've done something wrong and need correction, but more in the sense that it is a way for the Lord to purify you, leading to your perfecting holiness, ridding you of the things that stand between you and perfect peace with God. Things like fear, discouragement and doubt- things that we allow to contaminate our body and spirit, our mind and heart. 

What an incredible opportunity we have as women, as mothers, to experience something so raw and so real, that if we would just rely completely on the Lord to strengthen us and encourage us, He will use it to make us more like His Son. Consider yourself blessed that such an opportunity is on the horizon for you! 

Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God. 2 Corinthians 7:1

I want to leave you with a few encouraging statements from a recent sermon at our church. They aren't specific to labor, but they are true and I think that they apply to labor so well:

You will get discouraged. Do not accept defeat. 2 Corinthians 12:9

You will be afraid. Do not lose courage. Joshua 1:6,7,9
You will stumble. Do not stop. Hebrews 12:1-13
You will feel overwhelmed. Do not miss the whisper [from God]. 1 Kings 19:11,12

So if I could give you just one piece of advice as you head into this part of your pregnancy, this part of your calling as a mother, it would be to embrace it. Take it head on. All of it. Every single part of it. The pain, the work, the weakness, the fear, the hardship, the overwhelmingness. And then set it at the feet of Jesus, in obedience. He will turn all of that into purpose, endurance, strength, hope, intimacy, courage, power and love. If you allow Him, He will use your labor to make you more like Himself.

Soli Deo Gloria, 

ps- if you are looking for prayers and scripture to prepare for labor, this post is full of them.

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