Photo by gallus
I imagine every pregnant woman feels the same conflict about eight months into the pregnancy: a fear of what it will take to get that baby out, matched by a weariness at the thought of carrying the baby in-utero for much longer. (Note: I am not even a little bit pregnant, let alone eight months pregnant!)
Luckily, as pregnant women, we don’t have a choice. There is no turning back—no one gives you the option of deciding to just stay pregnant. As every pregnant woman knows, there must be pain before joy and healing, so we face it with (mostly) resolve. Soon we will hold that baby in our arms! And maybe our bodies will eventually feel “normal” again!
I was thinking about this a while back, as I listened to my friend Lorna share her experience with a very slow, painful healing process after surgery. I’ve never had surgery, but it brought to mind my pregnancies, childbirth experiences, and post-partum recovery. Truly being delivered—being restored—is a process you have to go through, not something you can run from or detour around.
True healing is something we have to decide to go all-in on
In telling her own story of healing, Lorna mentioned Sara Miles’ book Jesus Freak, which says (I’m paraphrasing) that Jesus often presents the choice like this: Do we really want to be well, even if it hurts? Do we want to be well more than we want to be the same?
My first reaction goes something like this: “Why does it have to be like that, Jesus? Can’t you make healing happen another way? Maybe if I could just escape all of this and go to Italy for a few months to think and rest (and drink wine), I could be healed.” (Yes, a reference to a post last week, Enough with the hardship-meets-privilege memoirs.)
But I know it can’t really work like that. Healing has to emerge from pain, not outside of the pain. And avoidance—sticking with the status quo—can only be an option for so long. That baby has to come out of its womb. Those tears have to pour out of my eyes. That argument has to happen, in a way that allows our real feelings to be freed from clenched fists. Those friends have to be said goodbye to, and maybe that marriage has to end. That opportunity has to belong to someone else, at least for now. I have learning and growing, laboring and healing to do.
Jesus’ whole life and death seem to have been predicated on that pattern: pain then healing, brokenness made whole. While sameness definitely has its appeal (and even appealed to Jesus as he prayed to God just before his crucifixion), I know I don’t want to stay the same—that’s something I can be sure of. I have my own collection of painful-times-turned-to-joy to remind me why the difficult trek through the pain is worth it.