By Guest Blogger Jeannie Ewing
It could be any day now, I tell myself as I huff and puff my way to the midwife’s exam room. Everything seems different, new, and I can’t seem to determine whether or not all of these changes are good. I pat my expanding belly and offer our daughter in utero a wry smile. “I can’t wait to meet you, Veronica,” I tenderly whisper to her, even as the fear sweeps over my heart.
The what ifs aren’t just nervous jitters. Well, maybe some of them are. My what ifs involve reliving the very dramatic and in some ways traumatic birthing experience I had with our soon-to-be middle daughter, Sarah. I went from a joyful anticipation in early labor to complete, drop-dead terror as my doctor announced a necessary c-section was in order.
I cannot allow myself to go there again: What if Veronica has a rare disease like Sarah does? What if we are surprised with some diagnosis at birth? What if my VBAC doesn’t work? What if I have no postpartum help with three kiddos? How will my other two girls respond when I can’t keenly respond to them while I’m in that postpartum, no-sleep haze?
These and other questions flood my mind, and it’s as if the cloud of doom has darkened my heart and my ability to simply appreciate the here-and-now. It’s always been my struggle: being attentive to the present moment rather than caught up in some world of possibility. I guess my innate temperament has manifested its primary weakness again: fear.
I know that God is working through the waiting in my life and all the change therein: moving back to my hometown and reconnecting with high school friends; welcoming a new baby daughter in the midst of this new move; trying to rediscover myself as wife, mother, and possibly writer all over again.
But it’s the starting over that gets me every time. I cannot plan for this. I cannot foresee all of the initial conversations with strangers who may become friends over time. I cannot imagine how long I will dwell in the midst of such a forsaken limbo, the space that seems to linger neither here nor there.
For me, life as a wife and mother involves constant dying to self, constant rearranging of my plans, incessant uprooting of what is comfortable and familiar. There is always change emerging as my daughters move from one phase of development to another, as I navigate where my husband and I are in our marriage, as I ascertain how and when to share our journey with others through my writing without it becoming all-consuming.
As I shared my emotional rollercoaster ride with our new pastor last weekend, he responded, “It’s none of your business what God is doing with your life right now.” And he is right. As much as it stung to hear those words, I knew they were spoken out of genuine truth and charity. I think part of becoming who God intends for us to be involves relinquishing the need to know all the answers to our life’s questions while we are on the journey. It means I need to lean into the heart of God evermore, understanding that mysteries sometimes prevail, and I may feel lost in the midst of it all for a time.
But I have to be okay with the process, the entire messy process. I learned that when Sarah was born. There’s never another chance for me to relive today, to revisit what was said or done or left unsaid or undone. So the focus, for me, and the challenge, is to stop prying into the details of what God is doing in me and through our family. It’s none of my business, so I’ll try to discover the gift of now, those hidden treasures that God often whispers to me through ordinary moments. If I worry too much about the what ifs, I may miss them altogether.
Jeannie Ewing believes the world focuses too much on superficial happiness and then crumbles when sorrow strikes. Because life is about more than what makes us feel fuzzy inside, she writes about the hidden value of suffering and even discovering joy in the midst of grief. Jeannie shares her heart as a mom of two girls with special needs in Navigating Deep Waters: Meditations for Caregivers and is the author of From Grief to Grace: The Journey from Tragedy to Triumph. Jeannie was featured on National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition and dozens of other radio shows and podcasts.
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