Becoming Thin

I am nine months pregnant.

Complete strangers have zero compunction in asking me whether I’m having a boy or a girl… they don’t ask if I’m expecting anymore, they assume I am. It’s ok, I am, I’m housing our next generation in my body, and I am physically reminded of it nearly every moment.

I have increased.

My normal clothes stopped fitting in July, I misjudge distances between my growing self and doors, I sway with each step (I won’t deign to call it waddling), and I consciously step so that I don’t lose my balance with the shift in my weight.

I am growing a child.

As I play host to one child, I am still tending to my energetic two year old day in and day out. For nearly a year and a half, she has been my primary focus of care. I stepped away from my chosen career and turned the majority of my focus on her, my husband, and our respective relationships. My field of influence has shrunk significantly. I went from leading a weekly worship service of three hundred to partnering in a family of three.

My life has narrowed.

My friend and acquaintance circles have shrunk, conversations I have with those outside my home are rare, and I am just as likely to discuss my daughter’s eating habits as I am to discuss current events. I spend more time reading for pleasure than I have in the past, but I have also begun to memorize entire movies and seasons of television shows that my daughter enjoys.

I have bared my life down to essentials.

I have distilled what is possible into what is needful and necessary. In part, this is because I am physically slower. I need to rest far more often than I had become accustomed to. I have more limits on my body right now because of how my daughter is taking up the space provided for her. Some weeks I consider it a grand accomplishment to purchase and prepare our family meals.

I am becoming thin.

Not in girth, obviously, but in preparation for ushering a new life into this world.

There is a concept in Celtic Christian theology called a Thin Place. It is where the veil between the world and the Kingdom of God is the most transparent. It is where God and the world meet. You can sense one in a cathedral or in the wilderness. It is where the holy breaks into the mundane. It is where wonder and awe inspire people to worship. It is where the soul sings. Screen Shot 2017-12-19 at 9.16.09 a

I am preparing to create a thin place.

When my daughter is born, I will be ushering her into this world. Parts of my body will thin and move out of the way and my womb will work incredibly hard and labor to bring a new child into existence. Her soul will enter this world through our partnering and my family will expand our love to welcome her into our lives. We will witness an incredible act of God in the midst of the blood and sweat and tears of delivering a child. We will be spectators to the extraordinary as our daughter breathes her first breath.

Pain and joy are inextricably linked in childbirth, as I will undertake incredibly hard work in order to meet this person that I have been carrying in my own flesh for nine months.

That day is coming soon. But it is not yet here. For now, I continue to live my narrow life where I focus on essentials so that when the day comes to create a thin place, every part of me is ready to be fully present for meeting our daughter for the first time.


Growing in Change

We change. We grow. We collect scars. We mature. We make mistakes. We learn. We carry wounds. We heal. We build relationships. We burn bridges. We hurt. We ignore. We decay. We develop.

We change.

I believe everyone changes. I don’t believe that the change is necessarily healthy or good, but all of us change. We can change into people who become more and more caustic and hateful, or we can choose to be people that grow towards health and wisdom.

I believe people can change because I can see the change in myself and the people around me.

I have grown wiser, more cautious, more outgoing, and occasionally more judgmental. I have become a better parent, wife, and pastor. I’ve developed my patience. I’ve learned to center myself in something besides myself.

I’ve seen my relationship with my husband, John, change over the past eight years we’ve been together. We’re still learning how to communicate with each other. I’d have thought I would have gotten more of it down by now. Apparently we keep changing and learning about ourselves, and keep bringing more to the relationship than we are aware of. This has been helpful to learn and challenging to navigate.

I’ve especially seen my daughter change. It’s easier to see: she adds a new word to her vocabulary each day. Her change is in greater increments. But when she reaches kindergarten, puberty, high school, college, or adulthood, she won’t stop changing. I’ll keep having to get to know her as we each keep changing.

I’ve even been able to tell that the daughter I am carrying is changing. Her kicks are getting stronger. She moves within me and listens to me sing. She grows.

I had a terrible migraine this past week thanks to Hurricane Irma that lasted four days. I cannot remember the last time I had a four day migraine. It was before I started trying to conceive our first child. The bonus is that I cannot take the usual medication I take to handle my migraines. I had tylenol and the ability to relax my body. After three days I got a rescue dose that knocked me to sleep and kept me out of the emergency room. When I am in the midst of a migraine that long, I have a hard time believing that I will never not have a migraine. I know, logically, that this is not the truth, but I feel like I will hurt and be exhausted forever.

What amazes me is that I lived through a season of migraines like this for a year and a half. I survived them hitting me in waves every single week.

What astonishes me is that it has been over three years since that season. I’ve gotten twice as far past that time than the time I spent in the midst of it. I’m far healthier now. I know my body better. I am more resilient. I enter centering prayer more easily. I am more able to relax my body through the pain, so that it doesn’t hurt as much.

As I spent hours upon hours mindfully relaxing my shoulders, jaw, hips, and neck, I realized I was receiving a small gift in the midst of the pain. Relaxing through an unmedicated migraine is not unlike relaxing through natural childbirth. The technique I use for coping with the pain of migraines is the same that I used for my first birth.

However, the pain itself is different. The experience and purpose of it are radically diametric. Migraines hurt because they hurt. Birth works the body in order to deliver a child.

Birth ushers in a radical change. The labor of childbearing, though intense, is productive.

Change in our lives will hurt. It either hurts because it is producing something new, or because we are caught in a cycle of trying to stay the same while change happens around us. I often get a migraine when a major weather system blows past. My body struggles to catch up to the change in the pressure around it. The weather eventually changes, and I eventually stabilize. But I am changed.

Every day, I change.