What's 40 weeks long and looks a little like Lent and a little like Easter?
That's right... We’re PREGNANT!
Tomorrow marks the beginning of week 14 putting me FINALLY in my second trimester (the first trimester was really not very enjoyable). So, far this pregnancy has been a bit of a roller coaster ride emotionally and physically. We weren’t planning on getting pregnant and it’s definitely changed some of our plans for this year and will probably change a lot of our plans for the rest of our lives in ways that we can’t even foresee right now. But, we are very excited about this new adventure and new little life. We have both always looked forward to being parents and now, as that reality sinks in, we are no less excited.
For the last few weeks I’ve been thinking (when I can get my brain to think – seriously “pregnancy brain” is not a myth!) about how pregnancy is sort of a cross between Lent and Easter.
Pregnancy is 40 weeks. Maybe that doesn’t seem significant to anyone else, maybe it isn’t really significant and I’m just making something out of nothing, but it seems significant to me. I was just thinking about some of the other things that seem to come in time periods of 40… Lent being 40 days, Jesus spending 40 days being tempted in the desert, Moses and Elijah having 40 day encounters with God, the Israelites spending 40 years in the desert, the flood being 40 days and 40 nights, etc. Anyway, I got to thinking about pregnancy in comparison to some of those things…
In some ways pregnancy feels like Lent to me. Lent is a time when we make sacrifices we give things up in an effort to make more space and room for God in our lives. It’s a time when we search our hearts and souls and repent for wrong doing. And it is a time of growth as well (the word lent has its roots in “spring” and “to lengthen”). Pregnancy also is a time when we make sacrifices; we give things up to create a healthy environment for new life to grow. We give up alcohol, eating certain foods, and caffeine, as well as giving up certain other activities that could be dangerous for us or our child. Like Lent pregnancy can also be a time of deep reflection for many women, searching their hearts and souls, coming to grips with some of their own inadequacies and fears as well as looking at their past and the faults and successes of their own families. It can be a time of growth and change of setting new healthier limits for yourself physically and emotionally. In some ways pregnancy feels like a 40 week Lent.
I was also feeling like pregnancy was in some ways like the Israelites wondering in the desert. The forty years that Israel spent in the desert was a time when they had to rely entirely on God, there was little in their lives that they controlled. They moved when God said to move, they stopped when the cloud or fire stopped. They had no food or no water except that which the Lord directly provided. It wasn’t a time for them taking control and ruling their own lives, it was a time for letting go and allowing God to rule. Pregnancy feels like that to me too. In many ways pregnancy is one of the first truly and completely dependent experiences I’ve ever had. I have absolutely no control over the live growing within me. Sure I can do my best to eat well, rest, and not do things that could be dangerous for the baby. But, I cannot make the baby grow. I have no control over whether this child will live and grow healthily for 40 weeks or whether something will happen and it will be miscarried. I have no control over whether this child will be healthy or whether it will have health problems or disabilities. In many ways I feel entirely helpless, wondering in a desert of change and in actuality almost completely unable to keep myself and my baby safe. Pregnancy is indeed a time of deep trust and letting go of control – two things that have never been easy for me.
In other ways pregnancy feels like Easter. The Easter season, which lasts 50 days, celebrates all that is blossoming and flourishing in our lives. It celebrates the fact that we live as resurrection people, we are part of God’s kingdom come, our God has given us life – life to the full. I love how N.T. Wright put it in Surprised by Hope, “Jesus is risen, therefore God’s new world has begun. Jesus is risen, therefore Israel and the world have been redeemed. Jesus is risen, therefore his followers have a new job to do. And what is that new job? To bring the life of heaven to birth in actual, physical earthly reality.”
In pregnancy I have a clear opportunity to play some small part in joining God in bringing “the life of heaven to birth in actual, physical earthly reality.” Not that there are not many other ways in which we bring life to earth and join God in creating life in the world around us, but pregnancy seems like a particularly unique time in which we have a chance to be God’s vessels for creating. Pregnancy is beautiful, mysterious, celebratory, and full of life and meaning and to me that’s exactly how the Easter season should be as well.
Ok, so that’s the news for those of you who hadn't heard yet, and my initial thoughts on it, I’m sure there will be more to come later J
Rejoicing in the journey - Bethany