“Sometimes the Lord shakes your world in order for you to clearly see what cannot be shaken.” (Beth Moore)
I stretch before the starting line, limbs and body curving prostrate, running shoes gripping the asphalt.
I step into place and bow head and body, as the rising sun anoints the ground with gold, spilling onto the road laid before me.
Strapped to my ankle, a light peering through a glass frame. Within, the single flame rears a fiery mane straight towards Heaven, a gold sliver of the sun’s light buckled tightly to my feet.
Compressed thunder, the report of the starting gun. I lunge across the line, arms pumping, feet flying in a rapid dash. Behind me, the road melts into earth never to be seen again. I cannot turn back.
Lungs heave. Legs burn. Sweat carves salt scars across my face.
My heart beats to bursting, setting a mad marching rhythm for the road ahead.
I race the sun, run hard for the light.
But oh—this journey is hard.
As some may have noticed, I’ve been somewhat absent from the world of blogging and writing for the past two months. Fortunately, I think I have a fairly decent reason, as I was immensely blessed with the birth of my son. And due to the lack of sleep, postpartum healing, and the challenges of caring for a newborn, I’ll beg your indulgence and perhaps a cup of decent coffee as well.
I read multiple birth stories before delivery and had been told countless more. But a recurring theme in many books and articles was a feeling of empowerment and a great sense of accomplishment after delivery. Certainly carrying and birthing a new human life can bring with it an emotion of great pride and joy. But while fractions of those feelings were present for me, I feel I must be honest.
Labor broke me.
The overwhelming joy at meeting my little boy for the first time was dogged by a weariness that sank deep into my roots and bones. The marathon of parenthood began with a sprint that was the hardest thing I think I have yet done, and while I was elated to hold the tiny fingers of my son, I was at the same time piercingly aware of my own weakness and lack of strength. Even now, I’m not sure how I got through.
Perhaps I’m a natural born fighter, or maybe I only struggle with needing to be in control, but whatever the case my mind assured me before delivery that if I simply prepared myself and tried hard enough, I would succeed. But the combination of labor and parenthood was like a marathon that it is impossible to adequately train for. You simply cross the starting line, start running, and allow your muscles and lungs the grueling task of hardening and strengthening as you go.
The result of my son’s birth was a feeling less of an Amazon woman’s natural ability, and more like that of a child, shaking with fear, pain, and joy.
I wrestled hard and long through the night, and when morning broke I too felt broken in all my strong places.
The midwife placed my child in my arms, and I was lovingly crushed by the heaviness of the moment. I did not feel strong I felt weak. I felt like a little child myself, praying tears of thanks to God and begging him to help me raise the blessing he had given me. I hadn’t known that tiny fingers could be so perfect, and I hadn’t known that my own calloused palms could be so imperfect.
The weeks that followed were a whirl of emotion and physical strain. Some mornings found me laughing at the impossibly beautiful smile on my little one’s face, and some nights saw me crying on the floor holding a wailing baby and wondering how in this world I ever thought I could be a good parent.
And it hurts.
But that is love, tried and true, and that’s how you know it’s real.
Oh, what ultimate joy to have given my pain for the love of my precious one. And perhaps it is when we are the most vulnerable and powerless that we are most aware of the hands holding us up and the voice calling us further up and further in. I was broken, but through it all my heart saw clearly just how mighty my God is, and it is his strength and not my own that gently puts the pieces back together. As I continue on in this long race, I pray that my heaving lungs and trembling legs will only serve to lift my eyes heavenward, where my help comes from and my song flows down.
The heartbeat of the dark is the rhythm of my feet, a light striking out into the darkness with each and every step. The road before me illuminates even as I run, never wandering far from my pounding shoes, testing my faith.
But love is in the lamp at my feet, and it wraps around to renew my strength. And in the morning it is joined by the rising of the dawn, a promise woven into the fabric of the earth.
I run hard for that light, consumed by this love, and take hold of the joy for which I run through his gates with thanksgiving and into his courts with praise.
Wide eyes that pool with tears and splash with smiles.
Fine hair and skin that herald a sweet smell like the air after spring rains.
Sometimes it burns through and through. Some days you scoop yourself hollow, running until you have nothing left to give, and then—you give more.
But this too is love, and it hurts because it’s beautiful and it’s real, and it truly is one of the greatest blessings to fall from the hand of God.
The Captain and my Little One
Images via: Elleaparrel.blogspot.com, tarynelise.blogspot.com, fizara.com.
All work subject to copyright by the author. Use by permission only. 2015.