Saturday, March 17, 2012

Mentoring #3 with Casey

{I write a monthly mentoring post for my beautiful friend Casey and her blog Casey Leigh. When she posts the newest one, I post last month's here, just so I have it in my archives. In case you missed Post no. 3 over there in January, here it is. Post no. 4 can be found on her blog here.}

It was nearly ten years ago, but it feels like yesterday. My water broke in the middle of the night, waking me up. I expected what the books told me to expect. Contractions, timing and making sure we were prepared for the hospital trip. Maybe even calling ahead, my husband and I chatting excitedly about what was to come.

But my baby had other plans. She wanted out, and fast. All the reading I'd done flew out the window as my body went into full force labor within fifteen minutes. I couldn't talk as I hunched over in the car in blinding pain. There was no way I could utilize the breathing techniques learned in class. My body knew no rhythm, just an increasing, forceful, and constant constriction folding me over and taking my breath away. When we got to the hospital, I remember a nurse asking me to change into a gown. I whispered, "I can't." I couldn't imagine moving out of my frozen, fetal position on the ER bed.

The intensity never let up. By the time they got me to a delivery room, I was dilated to 7 cm. But more importantly, by this point I was terrified. I didn't know how bad it was going to get, and I already felt completely overwhelmed at what my body was experiencing. I just wanted it to stop. All the staff were shouting orders at me. All kinds of things were being done to my body that just increased my discomfort and fear. So in my panic, I nodded yes to the order for an epidural, hoping it would lessen the pain. It did, of course, and about thirty minutes later, my daughter came into this world. My body still couldn't feel a thing.

That's how life begins. Through pain. And not just a little. Since the beginning of time, pain in childbirth is known to be the worst kind. It's what people use as the extreme point on a scale: "Tell me how much pain you're in on a scale from 1 to 10, 1 being a paper cut and 10 being childbirth." Crazy that God chose to start life through such pain, isn't it? And I don't think the reality of pain ever ceases to haunt us.

I live in a constant state of conflict. Half of me is still very afraid of pain, and tries in every way to create a smooth, comfortable existence for myself. The other half of me desires to live a passionate, adventurous journey with God as my guide. But God is not interested in my comfort as much as He wants to shape my character. Isn't that annoying? You and I both know that people who have endured the worst pain also know the greatest redemption, rescue and healing. They have incredible testimonies. And I want one too.

But I'm no different from when I was in labor. I still feel terrified by how bad things could get. Whenever bad circumstances come my way - fighting with my husband, discipline issues with my child, financial strain, whatever - I just want the hurt to stop. I get totally focused on how to return to my comfort zone. Unfortunately, I also know God could allow such pain to come my way that it folds me over, breathless. I have known it to a degree already, in fact. And what I've learned is that since I can't avoid pain, what I do with it is what matters.

Of course, we want to medicate first, shove that pain way down until we can't feel a thing. And it doesn't just come in bottles. Anything can numb pain. TV, busyness, home improvements...whatever we choose to obsess over in order to block out what hurts. It's super tempting. In fact, it's popular and encouraged. "Oh, everything will be fine! Just come have drinks with us and you'll feel better." Numbing our pain always has its pros and cons. I'm pretty sure I don't want to live any part of my life not feeling.

This verse sticks with me: "Your testimonies are my heritage forever, for they are the joy of my heart."  Psalm 119:116

A testimony is a story of life-change by the power of God. I want a good story to tell that ends in Jesus. If you are a blogger, don't you want the same, a story to share that moves hearts and impacts others for good? I long for one that proclaims His work in my life, His healing, His transforming love. I want to encourage others who may be in the same struggles. And in order to have a testimony like that, in order to live a God-sized adventure, that may mean I encounter pain. So I cannot afford to be afraid.

You cannot afford to be afraid of what may come.
Instead of fear, we need to know and be sure of His presence. We need to wash ourselves in the truth of His word. We need to clearly see the unshakeable rock we as followers of Jesus stand on. We need to set our focus on Him and Him alone because "perfect love casts out all fear". That's His promise. And He has perfect love for us (no one else does). Loads. Try Him. Bring Him your fears and your pain and ask Him to do something about it. To show up for you. To heal you. To strengthen you. He will. (I promise. Because He's crazy about you.) He is so worthy of your trust.

Maybe the reason life begins with so much pain is because God is hinting at something more universal: only by enduring can we eventually behold a miracle.  


  1. Just read both your posts, 3 and 4. Thank you so much for sharing. Such an encouragement! I first learned I wasn't in control with infertility, again with adoption...and continue to have to pry open my stubborn grasp on what I think I can control. The beautiful thing is, God is patient and when we do let Him have control, His plan will amaze and humble. I have seen Him do that now as we raise four beautiful and strong, control-challenging daughters! Ahhhhh....grace!

  2. So encouraging! I am learning this slowly..sometimes the fear can be overwhelming,but I know HE will come thru for me each time. I only have to let him in and truly learn to trust.


  3. Childbirth certainly is an inexpressible kind of pain. A friend of mine actually gave me those Isaiah verses and my husband read them as I was birthing my second. It was comforting to hear I wouldn't be consumed even in the midst of such intensity!!

    I have been in daily pain the last couple years. I'm learning to accept it... to look for what God is doing in it. To see what He will birth in it.