This glorious, wearisome charge of love is one that I cannot part from.
I am commanded to love neighbors, to love enemies; to seek and save the lost; to be a light no matter how dark the night around me may grow. It is not an optional love, nor a circumstantial love, nor an occasional love- it is for all times and all people.
And despite the days that become years of cold shoulders and blind eyes, I cannot cease to love those shoulders and eyes, no matter how far from me they may be. Because there have been so many days when my own face was turned away- angry, bitter, ignorant- and He did not abandon me in that state. He sought me lovingly until I remembered Him.
So I will seek you, gently, with an unending love that is not of myself.
I will not allow my wounded emotions or bruised pride to stand in the way of ever pointing you towards what is true, what is good.
You do not have to love me for it. I will keep loving you anyways.
Arms always open, words always gentle, truth never changing.
My mother-in-law (whom I honestly adore) sent me an article on marrying young recently. Well, it made me cry. And perhaps that’s just due to all the pregnancy hormones raging through my ever-enlarging body, but I really was struck by what was said in this article.
See, I have some very strong feelings about marriage. (Imagine, me feeling strongly about something…unheard of, I know.) I am thankful that I waited till last December to get married, not so much because I think I needed to be that age, but because all the guys in my life prior to Arthur were a far cry from husband material, and I am so thankful that I’m not living on a beach with a pothead who thinks my pregnancy might be a bad case of bloat.
See, I’m 22. According to society’s expectations for young people, I should either be graduating from college and establishing a career, or I should still be in school. Now, both going to college and choosing a career are great things to do. They really are. However, as a 22-year-old young woman, I am expected to do those things BEFORE getting married, and CERTAINLY before I even think about starting a family, because we are told that you have to get your life together before we are ready to wed or to be parents.
Well, personally, if I had decided not to marry till I had my life figured out, I would just never marry. If I didn’t have kids until I had my finances, work, relationships, and priorities all in perfect working order, I would never be a mother.
And from what I read online every single day, I’m not the only one. Many young women five years older than me lament that they still don’t “have it figured out.” I sympathize! I’m a stay-at-home wife and crazy pregnant lady who is realizing for the first time in her life that I should probably wash my windows! My budget changes every month, because life is always changing- the car needs repairs, I need maternity clothes that cover my entire stomach, Arthur or I have medical bills. Just when I think the dishes are done, they aren’t anymore. No matter how recently we went to the grocery, we suddenly realize we don’t have baking soda, or have nacho fixings but don’t own a cheese grater. There is SO MUCH that I don’t have figured out!
And yet, I would be facing these challenges even if I weren’t married. When I was single and had never heard of Arthur, I still grimaced over my finances and how to afford gas each month. I still had to plan a way to get healthy, affordable meals. I still worried about insurance, and expenses, and if I could get more hours at work- I just did it all alone. Now, I do it all with Arthur.
When I met him, I was terrified by how much I liked him. He was enlisted in the Navy, and it seemed highly impractical for us to pursue a relationship, much less a marriage. We dated anyways. The longer we dated, the harder things got- at one point we were living an hour apart, both working underpaid part-time jobs, and neither of us had a working car. It was rough. Buying soup to microwave for dinner on date nights was as lavish as it got. But we were together.
And since getting married, things have continued to be crazy. We’ve both had health issues arise, we’ve had all sorts of unexpected expenses, and just when we settled into our sweet little apartment we had to start looking for a two-bedroom for when the baby comes. Yet it is so much better than it could be, because we are together- we have a constant source of support, encouragement, advice, joy, and strength in one another that neither of us had when facing similar challenges while single.
When you meet someone, and you love them, there is no need to wait five year or take two hundred compatibility tests before getting married. Exercise wisdom, yes! As a believer, I prayed about every step we took in our relationship- and that prayerful consideration still allowed us to get married 18 months after meeting. There is no need to live together first, graduate from college first, have a ten-year-plan first, or backpack Europe first. You can do all of that after you get married, too, you know.
Anyways, here is the article: http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2013/04/i_married_young_what_are_the_rest_of_you_waiting_for.html
On September 6th of last year- almost eight months ago- I posted some goals that I’d made for myself. I planned to accomplish all 13 of these goals in the 3 months that lay between when I wrote those goals, and when I got married.
Let’s see how I did. (Original text in italic, current notes in bold.)
1. Continue to exercise regularly…only now, not so much that I lose weight, because we don’t want to have to alter the gown again. -Successfully exercised, accidentally lost a little weight, wore a wedding gown that was a tad big in the top. It looked great nonetheless.
2. Continue to eat sweets…but only in addition to an otherwise relatively healthy and semi-low-carb diet. -Obviously I did a great job eating sweets. I always do.
3. Complete a collage. -After several up-till-3am nights, I completed TWO.
4. Complete one thoughtful gift for each of my parents and siblings. -No, but it was a good idea.
5. Read an Earl Stanley Gardner book when I am stressed. -No, but they made great centerpieces.
6. Get rid of my stashed-away-for-years-in-high-hopes-that-someday-it-will-fit/be useful belongings. -To Arthur’s joy, yes, I did.
7. Allow time and energy to become appropriately excited for the impending joy and glory that is the Switchfoot concert in October. -Eh.
8. Allow time and energy to become off-the-charts excited for the impending best day of my life, when I get to marry the one man that God has given me for the rest of my life. -I was definitely excited, though not because I allowed any time or energy to it.
9. Thou shalt not over-commit thyself for ANY reason whatsoever, amen. -AMEN.
10. Spend one-on-one time with each of my parents and siblings at LEAST once before the wedding…preferably more than once. -I think I did this, to some extent.
11. Make six pairs of earrings. Give three of them away. -Made six pairs. Kept them all. Wow, I’m a great person.
12. Drink lots of kombocha. -Healthiest liver in the world, yo.
13. Don’t make too many goals, lest I feel overwhelmed and give up on all of them. -Definitely made too many goals. Forgot about all of them. Accidentally managed to accomplish some of them anyways.
Today I am visiting my family.
The oldest of my brothers is seventeen. He told me two days ago that he missed me, and I should come over. I can’t say no to a seventeen year old that asks for my time. Seventeen was such an incredibly rough year for me, and I remember how seventeen feels all too well.
And so off I go. I am wearing my husband’s sweater, which is just big enough to fit over my ever-expanding baby bump without stretching the material too much. I am also wearing one of his scarves, and carrying my supply of food in a bag of his. I am glad he is so good at sharing, because I am great at being shared with.
The bus I am on- the second of four busses that will eventually take me to my parents house- is on I-5, and it is almost downtown. When on a bus that is approaching downtown Seattle, you have a vantage point that you don’t often have when in a car on this same stretch of freeway. Sitting on the bus, I am high enough to see down over the guardrails on the edge of the freeway, down into the homes of the homeless.
We pass people sleeping under tarps, under cardboard, wrapped in dirty cloth almost as if they are hiding from any eyes that stray towards them. There are tents, and makeshift tents, all surrounded by garbage. Most importantly, there are people.
I don’t see faces, but I see the shapes of bodies beneath coverings to keep out the cold.
I spent almost an hour on the phone with my incredible 8-year-old brother Levi today. Here’s what he had to say.
“I love pasta. I like it with tomatoes and cheese, and olives on the side.”
Me: When the baby is born we will take pictures of you and it together.
Levi: Oh, those will be so cute!
“You and Arthur can come to my house and I will teach you how to make coffeecake. It takes flour and milk and eggs, and other ingredients. The hard part is putting it in the oven, and testing it to see if it is done or if it needs three more minutes.”
Me: You are the cutest kid.
Levi: Yes I am.
Me: By the time it’s your birthday, in July, my tummy will be so big!
Levi: Oh yeah! Will the baby pop out at my party?
Me: Will you be a great uncle?
Levi: OF COURSE!
“If you want to visit me, don’t come on Friday. I will be gone on Friday. Also, I can’t do school on Friday because I will be gone. Sorry ‘bout that.”
“When I visit you I will bring books for the baby. And I will bring tapes and CD’s- they aren’t for the baby, they are just for you and Arthur, so you can listen to music.”
Me: Oh Levi, you crack me up.
Levi: Yes, I do crack you up. Yes indeed.
Me: Right now the baby is as big as an apple.
Levi: Oh! That is amazing! Hang on Sarah, I need to tell Mama that. MAMA! GUESS WHAT? THE BABY IS THE SIZE OF AN APPLE! ISN’T THAT AMAZING?
Me: You were so cute when you were a baby. Do you think my baby will be as cute as you were?
Levi: Um, probably not. But maybe.
Me: Isn’t it amazing that Arthur is your brother now?
Levi: Yes! It is great! Arthur is my brother, and Josiah and Luke, and also Tommy!
Levi: I was thinking I could make some rocks in a circle around the dirt, and plant a seed, and it would grow into a tree.
Me: That’s a good idea. I am going to grow some flowers on the deck of our apartment.
Levi: That’s good, would you rather grow a tree though?
Me: I can’t really grow a tree when we live in an apartment.
Levi: It could be a tree that had branches and flowers…
"I love you so much, and I am completely devoted to you, and I know that you’re the man God had for me to marry- BUT, even if none of that was true, there are still hundreds of good reasons for me to marry you. And this fudge is two of them."
I just realized that my last few posts have enumerated many of the less-than-delightful side effects of pregnancy.
So I want to take a moment to list off some of the things that this pregnancy has improved- improved to the point where I feel I am verging on superhuman.
Weight Loss: That’s right- LOSS. Turns out, two solid months of non-stop nausea and vomiting on a eerily regular schedule can actually lead to dropping a few pounds. Or almost ten pounds, in my case.
Now I am entering the healthy weight gain stage, but that does not lessen the feeling of success I have after the first trimester.
Human Noise Machine: Granted, the noises I can produce at inhuman volumes are a select few- namely, belching and uncontrollable sobbing- but boy, if a 7th grade boy challenges me to a belch-off, I can SO win that. And if I get lost in the wilderness, I will easily be found by the sound of hormonal wailing over nothing.
Which brings me to…
Never Get Lost in the Wilderness- For Long: Because of that loud sobbing that I just mentioned, above.
All-You-Can-Eat, 24-7: See, this child I’m growing inside me is taking HUGE developmental strides, like, constantly. And that requires a lot of nutrients. So I now eat about 6-8 small, healthy, balanced meals a day. And then one or two unhealthy snacks. In fact, the only time I stop eating for more than an hour or two is for this…
Best Sleep of My Life: At least for now, I sleep soundly for ten or eleven hours every night/morning/late morning (all of them- I sleep a LOT.) I have always considered myself a pro sleeper, but this really is the deepest sleep of my life. And it’s not boring, because…
Dreams Crazier than TV: Sci-fi, drama, reality TV- it all pales in comparison to the dramatic and imaginative reaches my dreams attain.
New Appreciation for High Heels: Something about the bloating, tummy expansion, and breakouts really makes a gorgeous, feminine pair of shoe all the more attractive. Immediate confidence boost- not to mention that extra two inches of height can help you feel slimmer.
Oh, and there is a TINY PERSON GROWING INSIDE ME: Which is amazing, a bit terrifying, miraculous, and beautiful all at once.
Do I feel superhuman? Not most of the time. Am I superhuman? Quite possibly. Either way, pregnancy is pretty incredible, all things considered.
Often when people talk about pregnant women very common themes arise: Insanity,constant crying, explosive anger, irrational food cravings, and mistreated husbands that just have to put up with it.
But as this- my first pregnancy- continues, I become even more determined that these stereotypes do not need to be true of me.
Don’t get me wrong- they ARE true, to an extent. I feel completely crazy. Every single thing on TV makes me cry, and then sometimes I sob uncontrollably for absolutely no reason. The anger part- well, I have always been too quick to anger. I spent several days recently obsessing about deviled eggs, and my fascination cookies has been going on for over a month now. And yes, my husband is around for all this.
However, as I wake up every morning (sometimes crying, sometimes to read cookie recipes like they’re novels) I am faced with the fact that I am still responsible for how I choose to act, speak, and treat the people around me.
My emotions are constantly changing and becoming even more dramatic. There are hormones rushing around in my body that I have never dealt with before. My stomach is expanding, slowly and steadily, and I am alternately thrilled and horrified when I pass a mirror. Between the inhuman belching and the incredible amount of food I require just to stave off hunger pains, I fear I am becoming a teenage boy. It is exhilarating to think of the tiny child growing within me- complete with fingerprints, a nervous system, and functioning internal organs already- and yet daunting to think of the huge responsibility I already have to care for them.
And while all of this DEFINITELY effects my patience (food should always be hot and ready to eat at a moments notice), irritability, tolerance, ability to be gracious, and pretty much everything else, it does NOT render me incapable of exercising Godly self-control in these areas.
If anything, pregnancy is just another great example of progressive sanctification- that constant work of the Holy Spirit in a believer, growing us and shaping us to be more like Christ in every part of our life.
Yes, the hormones are very natural, and very much outside of my control, but how I choose to let those hormones influence my behavior is completely up to me.
This is true of pretty much every situation- you’re boss may have an incredibly poor work ethic, but how you respond to difficult situations working under their authority is up to you. Someone may wrongfully lash out at you, but how you respond to that person and choose to think of them- well, that’s totally on you.
And how I speak to others during this pregnancy- regardless of cravings, irritability, and raging emotions- is up to me. That is my responsibility. Pregnancy is not a good excuse for me to disregard self-control and treat others poorly.
And so I make it one of my greatest goals to treat my husband well, pregnancy notwithstanding. Yes, sometimes- out of nowhere- I get crazy frustrated with him for absolutely no reason. And that is not necessarily my fault. If I allow that irrational, hormonal frustration to cause me to speak sharply to him, emotionally push him away, or talk down to him, then I am sinning, and I am fully responsible for that sin. Likewise, if I ask to hold me accountable to the way I am speaking to him and treating him as I try to focus on loving him, I can avoid sinful behavior in the face of insane hormones.
Am I perfect at this? No way. But it’s good for me. Practice in self-control, and practice choosing to react to uncontrollable circumstances in a Godly way. those are fantastic things! This pregnancy is already affording me great opportunities to learn and grow in Godliness. I am so, so thankful for that.
And so, I am resolved and determined not to be a monstrous pregnant wife. Even as this journey gets crazier with each week, I am doing my best to intentionally choose a Godly attitude.
Because pregnancy is not a good enough excuse for me to act in a way that is not glorifying to God. Instead it is a beautiful opportunity to learn some hard and very worthwhile lessons.
It makes me sad when people talk about kids like they are the worst thing that could happen to a person.
Too often pregnancy is talked about like a preventable disease, groups of children are referred to as birth control for the adult who is supervising them, names like “pest,” “turd,” and “brat” are tossed out in reference to poorly behaved or particularly annoying children, and parents advise young couples “not to have kids too soon,” and to “enjoy it while you can.”
Now, there are a lot of things I am not looking forward to about being a full-time mother. I am not excited to be responsible for enormous amounts of someone else’s poop. I am not looking forward to sleep deprivation, getting up at hours when every human being should be asleep to get my infant a hot meal, or the crying any child of mine will produce at volumes previously not attained by man.
I am not excited for the many, MANY stages my child will go through between birth and the age of 20 where they seem wholly dedicated to testing every boundary they can find.
I don’t sigh dreamily over the tantrums, the fact that I WILL be thrown up on- probably many times, or the thought of all the things that will be broken, lost, or mysteriously damaged beyond repair.
Someday my child will go through a horror story of emotions known as puberty. Someday my child will decide they don’t like me AT ALL and I am SO UNFAIR. Someday my child will disobey, disrespect, and ignore me. I do not long for the bouts of rebellion, the phases of total self-absorption, nor the pits of despair they will throw themselves into over something I know will not matter in 12 months.
All of that will happen. Probably in great and unforeseen quantities. And I am not looking forward to any of it.
But I am still more excited to be a parent than I have ever been for anything in my entire life.
I am excited to meet my child, to find out who they are and what they love and what they think about. I am excited to see what their gifts and talents are, discover their personality, and see what they look like as they grow up.
I am so excited to introduce them to the many wonderful things that will be new to them- going barefoot in the grass in springtime, good pizza, dancing to old music, blowing bubbles, laughing till you fall over.
I am excited for them to learn Who God is. I am excited for them to see how interesting and beautiful the Bible is. I am excited to raise them in a church family that constantly exemplifies Christ’s love.
I am so excited that I get to be a part of a new, tiny, miraculous human being’s life.
I am excited to see their smile. I am excited to instill in them a love for learning. I am excited to teach them to read.
I am excited to have a front row seat to this child’s life. I am excited to be there for the bumps, and the bad days, and the times they fall down- because I will BE there, and I will be there for them.
In September I will get to meet my first child for the first time. They will not make my life a living nightmare- they will make it harder, less convenient, more challenging, and full of new struggles, yes. But they will also give me opportunities to learn and grow in selflessness, grace, patience, and a Godly love. With the birth of my child, yes, everything will change. But not for the worse. Ultimately, it will all be for the better.
My pregnancy has not been fun. Being a mother will not always be fun. But it will always be a blessing, It will always be worth it. And I will never be sorry.
Pregnancy is not a disease. It is a miracle. Children are not little horrors. They are little lessons in a lot of things I am, honestly, not looking forward to learning. Life before kids is great. Life after kids I truly believe will be better.
Anyways, I’ll let you know if I change my mind after I give birth. Don’t hold your breath.
**Sidenote: My amazing husband already is a HUGE blessing in this incredible process of pregnancy and becoming parents. I just had to mention that he will be there in all of those not-so-exciting moments, and the exciting moments, and the moments where we debate hiring someone to watch our kids for an hour so we can get some quality sleep.
Easter is not about wearing white shoes.
Easter is about so much more than that.
That having been said, I am nonetheless quite excited to bring out my sundress and my bright-white pumps.