I have a confession: I’m afraid of something right now. There is a looming (man-made) deadline over me and I’m beginning to discover how little control I actually have in the situation.
I’m still pregnant, and although my due date isn’t technically until tomorrow, I’m quite surprised to still be pregnant. This is the closest I’ve ever come to my due date, and with a 4th pregnancy I think we have all been assuming that this kid would vacate early, or at least earlier than this.
What a pregnancy filled with peace I’ve had! Truly inexplicable peace, considering everything going on around me. Not that it’s been without threat of any worry or irritability—I’m still a pregnant woman after all—but I’ve been easily able to jump over these hurdles as they’ve come.
But now I’m at the final hurdle and my peace is being shaken. Or maybe stolen. Am I allowing it to be stolen by entertaining fruitless worry? Perhaps. Perhaps also this is a final test of sorts. This pregnancy has been a series of surrender after surrender after surrender. But now I have a fear that is proving more difficult to surrender.
I have little plans that I didn’t want disrupted and I have some selfish requests as well. I’ve had to begin letting go of those in recent days, which was not easy but I’m getting there.
But this morning at 3 am my real fears came out to play. My ultimate fear in this whole end of pregnancy game? That it will end in a C-section, perhaps even a medically unnecessary one, and then my husband will leave a day or even just hours later. God’s timing and man’s timing may be at major odds in this whole situation, and it kind of terrifies me. I’m scared of the potential surgery, but mostly because of the potential repercussions. Physical repercussions, yes, but even more so the emotional ones. Would I begin to harbor resentment towards the baby, my husband, and God? Would this drive a wedge somewhere in my family that I struggle to remove?
Even as I lay there in bed thinking through all of this, I do know that a situation like that can be redeemed. I know that God is bigger than all of it, and the story and testimony could be magnificent. The problem? It clashes with MY desires. It’s not the story I want. My fears are easier to surrender this time than my desires, apparently. But if I don’t surrender my desires ahead of time then I do truly risk the bitterness that I fear.
So how does one surrender these things? The process seems to look the same no matter the object of surrender. Or at least, I’ve found the process that works for me.
- Identify and then acknowledge the fear or struggle. I can’t hide in the shallows of my heart and pretend that something else is bothering me—I need to truly define what needs surrendering. For the past week I’ve let myself think that I was just afraid of some small things being disrupted, but now I’m finally acknowledging my ultimate anxieties.
- Tell someone or at least speak it aloud. Things hidden in darkness hold power over us. Once light is shed on them, usually they turn out to be much less scary than we’d built them up to be. In the wee hours of this morning, I finally told my husband that I was afraid this was going to end in a C section. I could tell by his breathing that he was lying there awake too, and after I expressed the simple sentence to him I immediately felt some of the weight of it come off. I don’t get some sort of bravery badge for pretending nothing is bothering me, and by sharing the fear with someone (or many people) it can become both an encouragement and a testimony.
- Stare the situation in the eyes. This is partly related to point #2, but on an even deeper level. Once the fear has been acknowledged and light is shed on it, don’t just run away from it—stare it down. When I chase it down the rabbit hole I find that maybe it is more manageable than I thought. This is easiest done by holding onto scripture and basic truths. If my worst fear actually comes to pass, is God still good? Yes. If this terrible thing happens, will the situation be redeemed and used for God’s glory? Still yes. Will God provide me everything I need to get through it with His strength? He always has before. Is my ultimate goal with my life to live it according to my desires, or let God have reign over my story? (this is where some of the truer surrender comes in, at least for me) I want God’s best for my life, not mine.
- Let it go. I find that the very physical act of holding my hands open with palms up is beneficial. Not only is it symbolic of holding something without really holding it, but the mental image comes in handy when I have to remind myself that I’ve surrendered something already.
- Repeat the whole process again as often as necessary. Surrendering a specific item isn’t usually a one-time deal. Oftentimes we put ourselves in a position of surrender, but then a new detail emerges that must be dealt with. Or maybe we find ourselves allowing old fears to creep back because we’ve stopped leaving our hands open to whatever God wills. “To surrender” sounds so passive, but it’s an active exercise that must be continually undertaken. However, like with most exercise, we develop muscle and muscle memory which helps us gain momentum and establish the good form of habit.
Surrender isn’t always the most fun, usually because it requires sacrificing expectations, dreams, goals, etc. Or at least being willing to sacrifice them. That’s what Abraham had to do with Isaac—he had to be willing to sacrifice. Although I’m still not thrilled with the ideas of an induced labor, potential complications, and major surgery I now at least have more peace with them if it comes to that.
The whole pregnancy I’ve been saying that God’s timing is perfect, He’s writing a great story, etc. But this is the time when I actually have to prove I believe that because His ideas of timing and story-writing are obviously different than mine. It’s easy to say that we will have patient faith when the event in question is in the future. Can I continue to have patient faith when it feels like time is running out? At least for the moment I am now able. And if I need to go through the whole re-surrendering process again in a few hours or days, then I guess that will be just what I have to do.
Now it’s time to go watch the sunrise and listen to the birds sing about God’s faithfulness.