The Promise is to You

Who I Am

Recently I have had to limit my activity due to painful contractions. For those of you who don’t know much about pregnancy, contractions are a normal part of pregnancy – your body getting warmed up for the big day. However, painful contractions are not. These are the ones that stop you in your tracks, take your breath away and make the poor man in Meijer look at you in alarm. These are also the ones that cause preterm labor. I’m sure we can agree that preterm labor is bad. I started having painful contractions around 23 weeks and they have been increasing in frequency and pain ever since.

The instructions from my midwife were lie down, drink water, don’t do things that make you have these contractions or, after four to six in an hour, you will have to come to the ER for monitoring. She said this so easily, so fluidly that it made it sound simple. Her concern after all is me and my baby’s physical well being. In that case the solution is obvious – rest. I’m ashamed to say that these instructions cut me like a knife. It hurts to make dinner. It hurts to lift laundry baskets and grocery bags. It even hurts to walk sometimes. How can I rest? We are moving in two weeks; what am I going to do? Who is going to pack everything? My head filled and swirled with thoughts of things to be accomplished and the question of how everything was going to get done. But this wasn’t my predominant thought. My biggest question centered around if I can’t do these things, what will people think of me – what will *I* think of me?

The subsequent days have been filled with anxiety, tears and dark moments bordering on depression all because I have bought, hook, line, sinker, rod and reel, the lie that my value is attached to what I do, not to who I am.

I have never experienced more self-loathing than when I am on the couch recovering from a painful contraction. Logically, I know that resting is necessary for the best possible outcome for our daughter but the liar who loves to lie fills my head with thoughts like You should be able to do this. If you were stronger this wouldn’t be happening. It’s not really going to hurt her, just push through the pain. Think of all the things that need to get done… You know Jeff’s going to be really mad that there are dishes in the sink. And on and on. It is hard fighting these lies and I freely admit that I have not always been successful.

My natural state (and I think it’s probably the same for many of you) is one of motion, of accomplishment, of checking things off a checklist. I take pride in this not only because it makes me feel good about myself but because our society re-enforces the utilitarian idea at every turn. It sets up as an idol the idea that a person’s value lies in what they do. Even in small talk I have found the most common question is “So where do you work?” as if this is the most significant thing about the person you’re getting to know. This is a giant lie.

My weeks of resting have brought me face to face with a humility that I never saw in years of serving others. Our Lord has dragged me, kicking and screaming, to the realization that there is more than one way to be a blessing to people. I have pridefully assumed that the only way I can be a blessing to those around me is through my actions; by cleaning my sister’s house while she tries to keep up with her four kids, by cooking a nice dinner for my husband after he’s had a long day, by volunteering to help out at church functions, by helping my parents paint the new house they bought. While giving myself to others what I never internalized is that someone is on the receiving end of the love I offer. I never realized that the people I loved through my actions would want to love me back and that it would be a blessing to them to do so.

Because I am so steeped in the lie that what I do is who I am it took a heroic amount of grace to accept it when my sister, whose house I tidied, offered with a smile to do my laundry or my sweet husband, far from being upset about dishes in the sink, hugged me and said he’d do it no big deal. One of the fiercest mental battles I’ve had recently is to sit and do nothing while my mom cheerily cleaned my bathrooms. It has taken me weeks to realize that my friends and family are offering to do things for me not because of what I have done for them or what they expect me to do in the future but because they love me. What’s more, not one single person has judged me for what I cannot do right now. Instead I have been met with compassion, kindness and pleas to get off my feet.

Simon Peter swore that Jesus would never wash his feet and Jesus swore that if he didn’t Peter would have no inheritance with him. As usual, our Lord had the last word. I am slowly learning that accepting Jesus’ love through others is just as important as showing that love. Now, I’ll be the first to admit I’m rusty at this but I know Jesus’ grace will be enough because after all, what I do or don’t is not who I am.

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  1. Leanne
    Posted April 14, 2015 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for this beautiful reminder!

  2. Christina Olson
    Posted April 14, 2015 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for posting this. I really needed to hear this today.

  3. Ann
    Posted April 14, 2015 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    You have learned a VERY important lesson…and one necessary for Spiritual Growth in holiness. Accept it and do not go back to your old way of thinking. Congrats!

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Schedule Note: Upper Room will continue to meet on 2nd & 4th Fridays through December to enable everyone to participate in Alpha. At Praise & Worship on 2nd Fridays we'll have prayer ministry, and we'll leave the 4th Fridays flexible for extended praise, testimonies, etc. There will still be a 5:30pm Mass on the other Fridays of the month.
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