Little by little...
A sneak peek at the newest addition to our childrens' baptismal gown.
27 years ago this August, I was baptized.
Thus began my journey to heaven. It was a journey begun for me by my parents, and it is a journey that I continued on my own, then with the Abbot, and now with our daughters.
Recently, the Abbot's grandmother passed away, and seeing her in her final days put me in mind of how many times in life God prepares us for our final battle. It starts with our own birth...the first time our lives are turned upside down. And it continues in so many little and great ways throughout our lives.
I think that part of each vocation are certain characteristics specifically geared to preparing us for the final days of our lives, preparing us for finally letting go of control. In marriage, the days before our wedding - so full of excitement and anticipation, but also nervousness and much uncertainty - are a glimpse at our final preparation for the great Paschal wedding feast. Likewise, motherhood is filled with such moments, and none more poignant than the birth of a child.
This was at the forefront of my thoughts as I watched the Abbot's grandma in her final days, because I think that pregnancy and childbirth - like all aspects of my vocation! - can help me prepare a little more on my own journey to heaven. I think that pregnancy and childbirth prepare us in a very particular way - by learning that we are not in control...by letting go of control and trusting that God is in control.
To begin with, there is the uncertainty of the final days of pregnancy. Every woman who has ever been pregnant - even those with a scheduled c-section - know what I'm talking about. Even when you try to plan there is always that great unknown - when will I go into labor/will I go into labor on my own? What will the delivery of this child be like? What will this child be like? Will this child be healthy? Will I be healthy on the other end of it? No matter how many times a woman undergoes it...pregnancy and childbirth are filled with so many unknowns! The last days especially are filled with such waiting, such impatience, such lack of control. There is joyful anticipation of the imminent new life that will be brought into the family - but there is some fear of the unknown, too. Even with modern medicine, there is only so much that doctors can control. Even if you have a schedule c-section or induction...there are so many things out of your control!
And yet, I look around at my life - at the lives of all those around me - and think, Is that uncertainty and lack of control a bad thing? Yes, it is driving me crazy (especially as someone who deals with problems with anxiety and who suffered from post partum depression with my first child) to not know so many things - when I will deliver, how I will deliver, if my baby and I will be alright...but that's okay. That's okay because one of the ways that I really need to grow in holiness is in learning to trust in God more. I need to trust that God's time may not be my time, but it is always the right time.
I have had so much proof of that throughout my life. Before meeting the Abbot there were other guys, some of which I prayed and prayed would be the one...but God knew it wasn't time yet. When the Abbot came along, it was the right time and he was the right one...and once again God's timing proved perfect. The same was true of our first child; although I hoped to conceive a honeymoon baby it was six months before we were able to get pregnant. And, in retrospect - especially knowing all that was to happen after she was born in terms of job stress and my ppd - that timing was perfect. Sooner wouldn't have been better.
And now, awaiting the birth of this second child, I need to let go of my fears and anxieties and trust that God's timing will, once again, be perfect.
Of course, I can fight that. I can fight and desperately try to control all the events in my life - and I often do! - but ultimately, try as I might, I can't truly control any of them. I can let that frustrate me or fill me with fear...or I can let it help me grow on the path of holiness. I can let it prepare me for heaven.
So, although my braxton hicks are driving me crazy, and each day of not being in labor fills me with disappointment, I'm going to try to be open to the ways that God is teaching me to let go of control. For one day, all of us - on the verge of meeting our Maker - will have to let go of all control. We will have to totally trust God.
How beautiful a gift that, through our vocations, God prepares us for heaven little by little.
Let go. Let God.