Well, technically I am not a mom . . . yet. Twenty weeks and counting until I meet my little one; however, I already have some confessions to share.
I’ve never longed for the “cute” pregnancy pictures where my husband hugs my enlarged stomach, nor have I rushed to be first in line to hold a baby when a new mother walks into the room. So it’s ironic that I found myself four months into marriage, 24 years old, and pregnant, after an unsuccessful attempt at Natural Family Planning. If you’re unfamiliar with this type of birth control, there is no contraceptive measure other than hoping you have learned the science of predicting your cycles well enough not to get pregnant, which can look like twenty-first-century people trying to read a sundial.
I like my personal style, I like my schedule, and I like my clean home. I remember when I first found out we were expecting, I felt angry because I was not ready or willing to make changes. I am an overachiever and a control freak—in case the schedule and clean home talk didn’t tip you off.
The only peace I could gain from an unplanned pregnancy was by being the best at everything. Among the things pregnancy was not going to rule were:
1. My attitude: I heard women complain about how horrible pregnancy was on their body, their sleep schedule, and their feet. Not me, I would not let the common symptoms of pregnancy wear me down. Even if I felt uncomfortable, I was going to put on some makeup and smile.
2. My career aspirations: I would not decrease my efforts to look for a full time job. A new baby would not change my five-year plan of becoming the successful career woman.
3. My social calendar: I wanted to continue a lifestyle of saying “yes” to my friends’ spontaneous requests for adventure without stopping to soothe my crying baby. I would begin teaching the baby at two weeks how to be a well-behaved angel.
My desire to control my body and my situation was, of course, rooted in the fear of losing my identity to this new infant. To make matters worse, the baby’s due date was two days before my birthday. Whoa, baby. You can have my body, a room in my home, and some of my time, but you cannot have my birthday. I do not find sharing a birthday with my child endearing. I am selfish and love birthdays and would like to keep the day to myself, thank you.
After weeks of stubbornly rejecting my situation, I was emotionally spent. I cried all the time and my fear was preventing my husband from feeling any kind of excitement about our third family member. I needed to humble myself, to come before God carrying all of my idols in my arms—my new marriage, work success, exercise regimen, newly decorated home, finances, and tryouts for the Amazing Race all had to be placed on the altar of God.
Here’s the hard part . . .
Things die on altars.
In the Jewish tradition, altars were a place for sinners to come and place a sacrifice to the Lord, a sacrifice that substituted for the sinners’ failures. And God doesn’t just ask for a scrap of meat. Just ask Abraham (Gen. 22). God asked him for his only son. A son Abraham never thought he could have. God wants that thing you’re too proud of to even consider giving up. The beautiful thing is that this altar is no longer a physical hunk of stone like it was in the days of the Old Testament, but it is found in Christ who takes our worst attributes on himself and gives us more of his goodness instead. No questions asked. God provided a substitute for Abraham’s son that day and God provides the ultimate substitute for us daily in Christ.
So, for me to recover from my self-pity about pregnancy meant releasing my prized possessions—all those things I had perfectly controlled—onto the altar of Christ.
“But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” (Hebrews 10:12–14)
Christ chose to place himself—perfect nature and all—on the altar, so that when I approach him I receive freedom from my idols and my selfish tendencies without penalty. I can confidently bring my fears about motherhood to him knowing that he is hallowing a space for growth in grace and love. And he does it again and again every time I clench into a ball of controlling perfectionism.
I am still not sold on all the things to come in pregnancy, but I know that God is moving my heart to love motherhood. I can see past the sleepless nights and spit-up stains now.
Motherhood, like marriage, is one more venture that reveals my idols and forces me to lay them down before the feet of Christ. I have a full assurance of faith that God is working through this season of pregnancy. He’s teaching me to make space not only in my home for a new baby but also for grace, humility, and trust—the best kinds of home décor.
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