True to the nature of Small Elephant, I’ve been making a lot of self-deprecating jokes about the manic (and starving) version of myself since learning I am pregnant with my 4th child.
(especially on my facebook page – if you haven’t joined us there yet, you should! We have so much fun! At least I do…)
In the near future, I’ll be writing up some longer posts about my 1st trimester hilarity, and I look forward to gathering up all those stories into one place so I can reflect on (and laugh about) what a tumultuous and humorous 3 months this has been…
but, if I’m being honest, it hasn’t been all laughter, and, while Mr. Gore and I joke often about how I am a caricature of a real person, the struggles I have faced, especially in this past month, have been very real, very gritty, and very indicative of my fallen and weak human nature.
Aside from that unexpected scare we experienced a couple of weeks ago (that turned out to be nothing a’tall, thank God!), the past six weeks have been rough as I have fought nearly constant nausea and fatigue while trying to run a household and a homeschool, and on a much deeper level, have tried to maintain a biblical Christian attitude while operating under a very dark cloud of self-loathing (I don’t love myself very much when I am not properly cleaned and groomed), irritability, and hormonal upheaval.
As I have grown in my faith over the past decade, my deepest struggles while pregnant have changed from physical discomfort and vanity issues to heavy spiritual battles as I wage war on this intensified version of my already sinful self.
Because what I understand more and more is this: no matter how badly I feel, and no matter how great the temptation is to be snippy with my husband or short-tempered with my kids, I must strive to glorify God by obeying His Word and, by His grace, seek to overcome my lazy and selfish and sinful desires. It doesn’t matter if they are brought on by pregnant hormonal fluctuations; they still must be done away with and surrendered to Christ!
And so my nights of late have been filled with tearful prayers for the grace of God to cover me, and to make this road easier. I plead that He will allow my feet to hurt and my back to ache worse than ever if He will only keep my love and compassion shining brightly in my heart. I cry out for the ability to be anything but self-absorbed and to be so focused on taking care of others that I won’t even notice my own discomfort…
But sometimes we are simply called to walk through valleys and to experience dark days, and sanctification can be a brutal process.
And over the course of the month, after being away from my church body and the preaching of the Word (due to the kids or myself being sick), and after too many successive days of failure and solitary confinement, I began to drown in that darkness as I listened to the lies of my heart.
It all culminated one night as Mr. Gore and I were readying for bed. I had been focusing on how little I had been able to accomplish, and how meager my contributions, even to my tiny little family, had been, and I began to cry. “Do you ever feel like the most selfish person in the world?” I asked my husband.
He tried to comfort me, but I was on a roll, and I finally confessed what had been sitting heavy on my heart all day: “I just think that, if I were never to show up at church again, no one would suffer for the loss. I know people would miss me, but…my not being there wouldn’t really change anything.”
I realize now what a lie that was, but, in my sad introspective state, I wasn’t thinking clearly. I felt far from God, far from my loved ones, and, as hippy-dippy as this sounds, far from myself. “I don’t even know who I am anymore!” I cried one night.
And I share all of the above for this one reason…
God is faithful.
And even when you are groping about, and you lose sight of your purpose and you lose your joy and you are just trying to survive moment by moment, there will come a day when…
you will feel better. You will join once more with your church family, and your hugs will be so heartfelt, and you will tear up as you hear how much you were missed and how many people were praying for you. Your heart will nearly burst as you hear the Word taught and preached, because you will remember that, yes! This is all true, and I have an identity in this remnant, and this is my life! You will rejoice in the God who made you and who sustains you and who never gives you more than you can bear. And somehow, someway, you will find yourself feeling grateful, even for the darkness you just walked through, because you will never forget that God was there and He did not allow your foot to slip. And you will sing, like you’ve never sang before…
After a soul-stirring sermon that just ripped me apart and made my spirit leap, our beloved brother, Ben, led us in a song that, for me, could not have been more meaningful or more timely:
Away my unbelieving fear,
Fear shall in me no more take place,
My Savior doth not yet appear,
He hides the brightness of his face.
But shall I therefore let him go,
And basely to the tempter yield?
No, in the strength of Jesus, no
I never will give up my shield.
Although the vine its fruit deny,
Although, the olive yield no oil,
The withering fig-tree droop and die,
The field elude the tiller’s toil,
The empty stall no herd afford,
And perish all the bleating race,
Yet will I triumph in the Lord,
The God of my salvation praise.
Barren although my soul remain
And not one bud of grace appear,
No fruit of all my toil and pain,
But sin and only sin is here.
Although my gifts and comforts lost,
My blooming hopes cut off I see,
Yet will I in my Savior trust,
And glory that he died for me.
In hope believing, against hope,
Jesus my Lord, my God I claim,
Jesus my strength shall lift me up,
Salvation is in Jesus’ name,
To me he soon shall bring it nigh,
My soul shall soon out-strip the wind,
On wings of love mount up on high,
And leave the world and sin behind.
(lyrics by Charles Wesley)
Oh, friends. As I sat in my pew with my cheek resting on Rebekah’s golden hair, my voice, my heart, and my tears joined together to offer these words to God, and my soul was once more at rest.
I am not yet brave enough to ask for discomfort or suffering, but, after today, I am convinced of this…
the Light is one hundred times more beautiful after you’ve walked for a spell in the dark.