Twenty-five years ago today, I was getting ready to have my first baby.
For two weeks, I’d been walking around Portland, 80% effaced and 4cm. No one seemed bothered by my 5’7 frame, waddling around the mall, trying to kickstart labor. No one seemed worried that I was a ticking pregnant time bomb, about to embark on a journey I felt utterly unprepared to take.
After all, everyone in my family knew I could not keep houseplants alive—and here I was, about to be responsible for another living human being.
My anxiety reached a boiling point when I was in my 38th week of pregnancy. Jay and I had just finished our last childbirth education class. You know—the one where they tell you that if you breathe right it won’t hurt. That one.
Our last class was over. We were as ready as we were going to be.
One by one, the women got up to leave, passing Nola on the way to the door. Nola was our childbirth educator. She hugged the sweet mamas and kissed their tummies as they left. She high-fived the dads and walked them to the door of her home. We liked Nola. We knew her from church, and the past few weeks had given me confidence that she was someone I could be real with. I waited until there was no one left in the room before I made eye contact with her.
When she sat down next to me, I couldn’t hold it in anymore. I began to cry as I stared at my ridiculously oversized belly. “I’m afraid! I can’t do this!” I sobbed. Nola’s eyes were soft and comforting. “You are going to be fine,” she said quietly. “Your body was made for this.” Of course, she had no idea that the process of childbirth was not what I was afraid of.
My fears were much farther reaching. They threatened our future as a family and robbed me of peace. My father’s profound disappointment in who I was had shaped how I saw myself: destined to fail.
I felt weak. I feared I could not be the kind of mom I wanted to be. I feared I was destined to give my child the same upbringing I had. I feared I would lose my temper, even to the point of injuring this precious one I carried in me. I feared my baby would grow to fear me as I feared my father. I was almost desperate for someone else to be this baby’s mom.
The words just kept coming. I could not stop sobbing. There it was. My weakness was exposed, out there for everyone to see. Out in front of the curtain. And then—it happened.
God met me. There, in my weakness, He met me.
Nola laid her hands on my belly and looked softly at me. Her heart seemed to ache with mine.
“Oh Heidi!” she said. “Don’t you know who you are? You are NEW! God has made you new! You are a new creation and your baby is the beginning of the healing that is coming if you will let God in to the deep places in your heart. Do you trust Him? Do you believe it?”
I wanted to believe it. I was desperate for God. I cried out to Him, aware that something inside of me was beginning to break free. In that moment, when I let just one other person see the woman behind the curtain, God began a healing in my life that still continues today. Many years have passed since that moment, but I know my life took a turn that evening. I didn’t understand what Nola meant then but I knew I needed to cling to Jesus. If I was going to be strong, I needed to accept my weakness as opportunity to find God’s strength. I needed that strength to invade my heart, to comfort and heal me.
Are you there? Desperate to name your weakness so God can meet you in it? He’s waiting.