As many of you are already aware, Chris and I are preparing for perhaps one of the single largest transitions in our lifetime - the transition into parenthood. With Baby Lightfoot due only two short months from now, we are growing more excited and nervous for all that this journey holds. (Truthfully, I’m the one that is facing more of the nerves right now, I think.)
Earlier this week, we went to the hospital to celebrate with some friends of ours who had just given birth to their second baby. And as I held that tiny little boy, I realized that it would be so soon when the tiny baby I’m holding is the one currently in my womb - the one entrusted to us by the Lord. It’s a surreal feeling - and one that I don’t take for granted. It’s a moment that I’m eagerly awaiting.
Pregnancy - like all adventures of life - has taught me many lessons. It’s been a humbling time for me, as I’ve had to wrestle with possessing less control over my body in many ways. But I’ve learned much from watching and experiencing Chris’ gracious treatment of me during this time. While some of these days have presented challenges, my husband has chosen to love me with a selfless love during this time. And the picture of the gospel that I’ve seen clearly through that is just too good not to share.
In Romans 5:8, a familiar verse to us, we’re taught that “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Ringing throughout all of Scripture is the reminder that God does not love us because we’re deserving of His love. Pastor Mike has also been communicating these truths to us on Sunday mornings as He continues through the study of Hosea. God’s love for us is based on His choice - not our merit - praise Him!
There have been plenty of times during this pregnancy that I haven’t been deserving of Chris’ love, but He has spoken sweetly to me and acted in kindness - catering his love to what He knows will speak most clearly to me. He has countless times given selflessly to me to display that he has chosen to stand by my side during uncomfortable times - times when my body is changing rapidly and my emotions run high.
Here’s the really cool lesson that I’ve taken away from this: as I’ve realized that my actions haven’t always merited his love, I’ve been drawn closer and closer to him. Being loved when feeling undeserving or unlovable causes our hearts to grow in affection and loyalty if we acknowledge that unmerited love and surrender under it. I could run and hide from Chris - shameful that I’ve struggled during this time, but BEING IN HIS PRESENCE causes me to not be able to run and hide.
And herein lies another lesson: to combat this tendency to believe that we’re unlovable or undeserving, we must continue to walk in the presence of the Lord. The truth of the matter is that we are not receiving His love because we deserve it; we’re receiving His love because He’s chosen to love us. Therefore the belief that we’re unlovable or undeserving holds no weight. We must therefore adamantly fight the tendency to pull back in shame or fear and “hide” from God by avoiding His Word or communication with Him (or even more deceiving - by reading the Word and and being in prayer but being unconnected to it). To do so is to agree with the lie that we receive God’s love because of anything we’ve done, and can cause us to spiral into believing the lies that so easily fill our minds with deception. And that deception - left un-countered by the Truth of God’s Word and prayer, will take root in our hearts. But we don’t have to let it!
Additionally, I’m getting even more excellent training in learning how to combat my emotions without allowing them to control me (admittedly in pregnancy, sometimes those hormones just win out). However, I’m learning that this choice to overcome my emotions must begin first thing in the morning for me. (And since this whole "first thing in the morning" time frame is getting ready to be pushed earlier and earlier, I'm in desperate need of making good habits now.)
I recently listened to a short response by Pastor John Piper answering how we can avoid wasting our mornings. I was all too convicted by his comments. Our frequent tendency in this age of technology is to go straight for our cell phones in the morning to scroll through the latest news, but Piper’s list of reasons for this tendency went straight to my heart. He commented that many of us do this to avoid responsibilities of the day, satisfy our early morning boredom, fill our egos, and catch us up on all of the latest news, among a couple of other desires. I can find myself in all of these reasons.
(I should insert a brief comment that I’ve gone back and forth on whether or not the time of day for my devotionals matter. And for me, I’ve come to the conclusion that it absolutely does. While some of the things that I accomplish in the morning are prioritized because they have to be (getting showered, dressed, etc), reading through the Scriptures is an optional for many people. I have good friends that read in the evenings, and that works well for them. But what I’ve learned for myself is that if I don’t prioritize it first thing, I’ll likely neglect it the rest of the day. Additionally, being in the Word and prayer helps to set my heart right for the day - regardless of the circumstances that I may face. I believe it’s a personal issue that all must address.)
Oftentimes I've found that the things that I read on social media or see on the web first thing in the morning can cause me to begin the day in the comparison trap - oftentimes causing me to feel inadequate and frustrated. Since emotions are even higher during pregnancy, these feelings can occasionally be even more intense. This is not how I want to start my days, so...
Another lesson that I’ve been continuing to learn is that we do have choice in the matter of emotions. Sometimes I believe the lies that I’m helpless to combat them, and I simply cannot believe that is true any longer. Instead I desire to choose to join with David in reminding myself in the morning of God’s overwhelming undeserved love for us rather than focus on my circumstances or emotional state.
Psalm 59:16: “But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.”
It’s not easy to boss those emotions around, but I believe starting early in the day is the key for me. Grabbing my phone itself isn't the poor choice - it's what I'm choosing to look at first thing that matters. Reading my devotional or the Scriptures first gives foundation to the next moments of my day and calms my spirit. Consider too how you want to start your day.
While I know that this journey of parenthood has only just begun, I look forward to the many more lessons that will come of it. I look forward to a deeper understanding of this love that the Father has for us, as I learn what it is to love with the love of a parent. I look forward to learning more about the Lord and hopefully being able to pass some of those lessons onto others as Chris and me navigate the months and years ahead. But in the meantime, I’m thankful for these lessons the Lord is sharing with me now.
And I can’t wait for those first few moments that Chris and me get to hold this little one and share our love with our sweet baby. May we do our best to train this child in grace and Truth by word and deed as we apply what we're learning through life.