Saturday, July 26, 2014

gentleness

Can we all agree that Faith Hill’s song “A Baby Changes Everything” is really annoying? Part of me sort of likes singing it dramatically alone in the car during Christmastime, but the other part of me wants to saw my ears off. Which would be great because then I would not have to hear “Christmas Shoes” either, and I am not kidding, that song is the bane of my existence. My very long list of problems with it is best left to another blog post. I only bring up Christmas songs in July because “A Baby Changes Everything” is quite likely the truest statement in the world. I catch myself saying it nearly every day, and then inevitably the song gets stuck in my head, and there I go again, cursing Faith Hill.

But it’s true. Wanting a baby and then having that baby has changed things for me. And when I say that, I don’t mean that I know more than people who aren’t mothers. That’s an annoying sentiment, and I hope I never come across that superior. What I mean is that I am realizing things that non-mother me could never quite grasp. I heard Adelaide’s heartbeat for the first when I was eight weeks pregnant, and I cried and cried. Her person-ness! It floored me. When she was born, it was the same thought—wow, this person! Now I often realize the other heartbeats around me. Beating hearts I often hurt or overlook. Every bit as wonderful as my Adelaide. I am so aware of Adelaide’s value, so aware that she is fearfully and wonderfully made, so in awe of the way she reflects her Creator, that I am seeing you differently. 

Friends, you are so very precious. You are so very miraculous. You are so very wanted. You are so very beautiful.

And the more I see you—precious, miraculous, wanted, beautiful friends—and the more I listen, the more I realize: We are carrying around such burdens. Oppressive, scary gargoyles that bring fear and worry and threaten to crush us.

Since we’ve had Adelaide, I have been stunned by the number of brave people who were strong enough to trust a new mom/idiot/head case with their fears and their worries. Why did I not see you before? Who am I still not seeing? The burdens are gargantuan. The hurt are walking among us, looking okay on the outside and Instagramming like a champ yet crumbling within.

Let’s be gentle with one another.

Because one of us just found out that she’s unexpectedly expecting. She’s terrified. Pregnancy has made her more vulnerable than she thought possible.

Because one of us has been trying to have a baby, but it’s not happening. She feels forgotten. She battles tears at unexpected moments, and her husband doesn’t quite understand. They’re in it together, but more often than not there’s loneliness in that struggle.

One of us just spent another night up with a crying baby, desperate to figure out what that sweet child needs and how she can provide it. She feels physically exhausted but it’s the mental battle that weighs the most. The still darkness of night is not a reprieve but a chasm between her and the rest of the world. She feels helpless. Alone.

One of us can’t sleep because every noise, every thought, every Facebook post is an opportunity to fear one of the many things that can threaten her child’s safety. The responsibility of caring for that sweet child nearly smothers her sometimes. (This is me. I cry about it in the shower. Dear Lord please protect my girl.)

One of us feels overwhelmed by the demands of motherhood. She reached out for answers and was met with judgment. She wanted to feel support from others that are in her shoes, but now she’s more lost than ever. She worries she’s the only one who doesn’t know what she’s doing.

One of us has made it through some tough roads with her kids. She started out afraid and vulnerable, but she desperately wants to leave that girl in the past. Now she comes on strong—a little too quick to give advice. A little too quick to make another mother feel small. A little too harsh. She clings to thinking in absolutes because it makes motherhood less scary. But even with the walls, she’s scared.

One of us can’t bear the sight of a newborn baby because the sting of her miscarriage is still so real. Yes, “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away, the name of the Lord be praised,” but the hurt—it remains, sharp as a knife.

One of us feels weighed down by the daily humdrum of motherhood. She makes a hundred tiny sacrifices and attends to a hundred tiny needs day in and day out. Still, there’s not much to tell and there’s not much to show for it. It feels insignificant.

One of us has a past and carries around the weight of it every day, convinced that God won’t forgive. Or that he can't forgive. Or that she's not worth forgiving. (But she is, and He can, and He does.)

We are battling scary things. We are hurting big hurts.

I didn’t see you before, but I do now. And you’re wonderful.

All I know is this: 
We are usually kind when we know others need it. But be better than I have been--be kind even when we're not sure that others need it. The wounded walk among us, beating hearts that have unspeakable value. Let's be gentle with one another.

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