Say out loud, “I can do hard things.”
Do you ever need to pull out your pom poms and give yourself a good ole’ pep talk?
On October 28th, 2016 I was 37 weeks pregnant and borderline preeclamptic. I was semi-ready to have a baby at home but was banking on at least 2 more weeks of prepping. That morning, I went to see my OB doctor for a routine prenatal visit and blood pressure check – without my morning coffee, mind you. The night before I hadn’t slept well and had only gotten about 2 hours sleep so I was really dragging without that caffeine boost. After my OB visit I planned to have a nice hot shower, put my pajamas back on and take an afternoon nap … for several hours.
After answering the nurse’s typical prenatal questions, the doctor came in to check my blood pressure and that is when she derailed my plans for the afternoon. After releasing the air out of the blood pressure cuff, she took the stethoscope out of her ears and said, “You are going to have a baby today!” Wait. WHAT?! She went on to explain to me that due to my blood pressure reading, it was a higher risk to wait until my due date to deliver the baby than to induce now. Also, I was informed I shouldn’t eat anything for lunch that I didn’t want to see later because the medications used for induction tended to make people nauseous. Great. Have I ever told you how hangry I get?
I wasn’t ready for this. I didn’t even have coffee this morning! For some reason, possibly due to pregnancy hormones or the lack of sleep, I burst into tears. This wasn’t just affecting my afternoon nap plans, this was the start of the rest of my life as a mother!! I didn’t want it to start this way and I was tempted to yell “No” back at her. I had a birth plan, one that I had spent 3 hours researching and putting together by the way, and this was not on it. I pictured having time at home to shower and fix myself up, lighting a stress relief candle and taking a hot relaxing bath with my eucalyptus and mint bath salts all while my contractions slowly increased to the 5-5-5 rule. Oh my goodness! Looking back now, that makes me laugh.
Stunned at the turn of events, I got in the car and drove home to get my hospital bag and my husband. Luckily, I had a 45 minute drive home to pull out my imaginary pom poms and psych myself up for the laboring process I so feared. I had to tell myself over and over, “This is going to be hard. But, I can do hard things.” I was right, it was 21 1/2 hours of ‘hard’.
But you know what my 21 1/2 hours of labor wasn’t? It wasn’t as hard as being 9 months pregnant, riding a hoofed animal miles and miles and delivering a baby in a stable (without an epidural) and placing him in a manger. It is always about perspective right? Knowing how hard my labor and delivery was in a beautiful birthing suite with amazing numbing agents, I placed myself in Mary’s shoes and she instantly became my hero.
In today’s scriptures found in Luke 2: 1-11, Mary shows us how to be strong and confident by being flexible in the face of hard, unexpected circumstances.
Mary didn’t have plans to deliver baby Jesus in a stable! She expected to have a room at the inn with comforts more conducive to labor and delivery.
A manger is trough from which horses and cattle eat. Do you think Mary planned to place the newborn Son of the Most High in a trough? Nope.
Mary had to endure an incredibly difficult and unexpected situation. One that we, in the United States, wouldn’t have to endure in order to bring a child into the world. Mary’s fears, doubts and concerns about her predicament aren’t documented as in other passages we have looked at, so one could say that she took the situation in stride. She remained flexible and resourceful and made the best out of what she had available to her in the moment.
How often do you panic or stress when things don’t go as we planned?
How often do you question your ability to do hard things or doubt the power of God to get you through?
I do it all the time. I’m a planner. I like most things structured and organized (except fun activities) so I’m challenged when something doesn’t go as planned or I can’t plan ahead. I’m also taken off guard when I assume something will be easy to accomplish and it ends up much harder than I thought. If that doesn’t sound like motherhood – I don’t know what does. The simplest of tasks, like getting in the car, all of a sudden become much harder.
I believe that things not going as we expect can cause a lot of frustration for us moms and we don’t always handle it well. We can lash out and say things we don’t mean or raise our voice just a little too loud. Then the guilt settles in. One of the hardest things about being a mom is surrendering our agenda. We may have the best of intentions and well made plans, but a child can change them at any moment. The more flexible we can be with that, the better. But some days just require more prayer, strength and grace to get us through and you know what? That is okay. Don’t beat yourself up. Each day is new and you can start right where you are.
Mary reminds us that we can do hard things. Whatever is thrown at us we can take in stride and not just because we are super multi-tasking moms, but because God is with us. He will never leave us and will only give us things we can handle with His help. All we have to do is remember to talk to Him about our every day struggles and ask Him for help!
Meet me back here tomorrow as we look at Matthew 2:1-14!