A month has passed since our major move to Singapore.
While we’ve all better coped with the change and healed somewhat from acute homesickness, I’ve always wondered what our little two year old must feel, how bewildering it must all seem without being able to articulate it.
Why and how did EVERYTHING change suddenly?
Ever so often, she still talks about “Our Vista Big Home” (vista being how she refers to our old neighborhood filled with parks and tall trees) and “M’s motorcycle,” M being our neighbor’s red shiny vehicle which enthralled her every time it zoomed off.
I’m not a child therapist of any sort. But since she mentioned “Vista Big Home” a number of times, I asked if she wanted to make a craft of it. As much as I was grieving, I wonder if perhaps, she was, too.
“YES MAMA. BIG VISTA HOME. SARAH-FAITH’s HOUSE. WITH GOLDEN SUN.”
While it appeared to be a lesson on shapes and colors, my prayer deep down is that it helped her in some way to process this unspeakable change where everything familiar to us disappeared overnight.
That it helped her realize that what we left behind has not been forgotten. That what no longer is, still lives in our hearts. That Home still exists, even if it is far away.
With her characteristic big smile at her masterpiece and tears behind my eyes, I thought, perhaps it was helpful not only for her, but for me too.
We had been apprehensive.
After all, having been away for a few years, we wondered how the Singapore we had left behind had become.
Would it be more crowded, more fast-paced than before? Would it be cold, unfriendly and a pace too fast for a family with two young children.
Over the past three weeks that we’ve been home, our lives have been filled instead with these encounters:
An older middle aged couple offered to help carry our stroller down a flight of stairs in public; a grandmother gestured for us to sit at her table when we had no place to sit for dinner; a passerby asked me if she could push my stroller for me while I carried my tray of food; two complete strangers reached out to our family and took our two kids and me in for an afternoon at short notice so that Cliff could focus on moving our luggage and furniture into our new home; people I had never met gave us a crib, car seats, clothes; a mother asked her little daughter to give us her pack of treats when our toddler had a meltdown.
As we settled in into our new home, a place my own children had never seen or known before, a fear lingered- what if my husband’s and their long-term visa passes (LTVPs) would be denied? What if they all had to return to Canada? It sounded like an absurd fear, yet the possibility was real.
While I was back to fulfill my work contract, Cliff felt convicted to look after our little ones as a hands-on Dad. What if their visas be denied?
Yesterday, on a stressful morning pressed within a maddening throng, we met the nicest macik (aunty) at the immigration office for our appointment, who assisted us with so much grace and love as we struggled to wait in line with an overwhelmed toddler and a nursing baby.
Two more weeks, and you’ll know the outcome of your application, she said.
But with timing that couldnt have been more beautiful, just this morning on National day, we received notice that our whole family would be together, that their visas were all approved. That Papa, and two of you were welcome into Mama’s home.
This is Home, truly, little ones.
You’ll love it here, as much as you have been loved.
Happy Birthday, Singapore.
Lacquered fingernails scraping on a chalkboard.
A sound every parent is familiar with.
After all, that’s the equivalent of what the determined whining of a 2-year old sounds like.
So when we got the airport in a hustle, with six suitcases, three overstuffed carry-on bags, a disoriented toddler and a sleepy baby to catch a 2am flight, imagine the damning self-reproach when I realized I had forgotten to bring that specially prepped, tightly sealed ziplock bag in the fridge which contained five lifesaving items that would spare us and many in-flight passengers mental and acoustic agony.
I wanted to kick myself in the butt.
The 32-hour journey ahead on two flights from Canada to Singapore depended on these triangular lifesavers. Now, I knew I was in for an uphill battle.
“Oh no,” I uttered, preparing myself to hear that awful fingernail-on-chalkboard crying. My toddler loved them so much that I’d packed them specially for her for the long flight ahead, and now I had forgotten them.
As we buckled ourselves on the plane that was going to bring us to a time zone twelve hours ahead, I prepared myself for a marathon event of misery, crying, whining, apologizing to other passengers and no sleep.
We flew off. Tears built up behind my eyes as I explained to our bewildered toddler as best as I could, “We are saying goodbye to Canada and going to Singapore, sweetheart. We are on a plane and it’s going to be a long, long way. Mummy is very sorry but I forgot your Laughing Cow Cheese.”
As Cliff, our toddler and baby fell asleep, tears streamed down my cheeks as I thought of the many unknowns ahead.
We did not have a home waiting for us in Singapore; I did not know if our children would adjust well; we were leaving a perfectly beautiful house and a routine we had thrived on to a new place filled with new uncertainties and stresses, because I had to fulfill my work contract of a remaining 16 months in Singapore.
Just as I was grappling with these thoughts, our first meal on the flight arrived. And there on each tray, sat a little triangular ray of hope- Laughing Cow Cheese!
As I watched my toddler’s face light up like a highway billboard with high voltage glee, both my husband and I saved ours for her.
And then, the two passengers sitting behind us gave their triangular packages of joy to her, leaving me in shock.
That made five Laughing Cows. Five, that replaced my forgetfulness, that covered my oversight as a parent.
As ridiculous and melodramatic as it sounds, tears poured out of my eyes as I felt God asking me, “Why do you worry about your transition? Even amidst the chaos, in your shortfall, I am here. And I will always love your children more than you ever can.”
Just as the flight ended, I turned to thank the gracious couple. The older woman replied, “Oh, it’s nothing. I hope she liked it.”
With tears in my eyes, I shared the story of why her gesture meant so much to me. To which the couple replied, “We fly this airline ALL the time, and we have NEVER seen them serve Laughing Cow Cheese before.”
Ah, five. The number of Grace- His unmerited favor in the face of my shortcomings.
When we arrived in Singapore, the brutality of jetlag kicked me in the face. In fact, the word “jetlag” should be completely redefined for parents, since the jetlag of two or more other human beings become your responsibility too.
Crying fits and door-banging. Make-believe picnics on a floormat at ungodly hours of the night. Staying in someone else’s vacant apartment with my toddler continually telling me, “Mummy, GO HOME. Not this home, BIG Home!”
But the next morning as I awoke, I found my toddler’s skin, once covered in red angry welts of severe eczema in cold and dry Canada, now a beautiful pink.
For months, her eczema intensified unforgivingly in spite of our best efforts. In desperation, I prayed that God would just allow her to wear pretty dresses again, since we had to cover her limbs to prevent her from scratching and to avoid the cutting comments from well-intentioned people. Because of the severity of her condition, I had emptied her wardrobe- all she had were a few long sleeved shirts and pants.
Just a few days after we arrived, however, a huge sack of beautiful clothes, passed on to me by a friend I had met only a few times in my life, was delivered to us.
“Cliff,” I said, incredulously, fingering through the huge sack of perfectly ironed dresses with tears in my eyes. As I picked up a pretty dark blue, sleeveless dress with red cherries on them, I whispered, “God answered my prayer- look. Sarah-Faith can wear this now.”
It was then that I felt God say, “Why do you worry about your transition and your children’s transition? Your obedience will always beget my grace.”
Days passed, and things at the place where we were staying at kept breaking down. The air-conditioning units took turns giving up. Our agent friend who told us she would help clarified that she could now no longer do so, due to unexpected family circumstances that had cropped up. As I lay awake at night, wondering where we would find our next home, I felt desperate and cried out in prayer.
Why did God allow this?
Hardly two days had passed when she reverted to us with a host of viewing options, even amidst her challenging and pressurizing circumstances.
“I just felt like God really wants me to help you.”
As we searched for our next home for 20 months, before we head (God-willing) to the mission field again, we discovered one problem after another- grudging landlords, high rentals, remote locations. When we finally found a potential home, we both got cold feet in committing.
Desperate, Cliff held my hand and said, “Let’s pray now. Let’s pray God gives us a sign and peace about our decision.”
And a sign He did. For at the ground floor of the apartment, a group of women waved rainbow colored flags as they sang worship songs. And as the landlord’s agent walked over to take a photo of them, she shared with us her background of having served the underprivileged in China for a decade previously.
And so out of her way did she go to help, assist and negotiate for our tenancy, together with our agent friend.
As I watched them both work together to help our family resettle, going out of their way to minimize charges, waiving their own fees and using their personal time and money to set up the home for us, I marveled at God’s ways as I felt Him say again, “Why do you worry?”
At the playground yesterday, Sarah-Faith held my hand and led me on the merry-go-round.
“Come, Mummy, come.”
As another caregiver spun the merry-go-round faster and faster, I saw our surroundings flash by at a dizzying speed. And as I spun round and round with Sarah-Faith, I noticed one thing- that as long as I fixed my eyes on her face, I never got dizzy.
It was then that I felt God tell me, that as long as we fix our eyes on Him, no matter what the dizzying circumstances around us, He will be our anchor.
Even in the midst of the giddy chaos of packing and leaving, He would provide the lifesavers we needed; even in the midst of uncertainty and transitions, He would honor our obedience and heal us; even in the midst of wavering doubt, He would send angels to help and encourage us.
If your world is spinning out of control, know this- that as long as you fix your eyes on Him, His Grace will be your anchor.
After all, He is the God who provides, who heals and who cares, even when it comes down to just five pieces of Laughing Cow Cheese.
*Thank you to many angels who have been journeying with us in finding our home and for offering us items to help us make our new home, Home.
“MAMA, GOO HOOOOMEEE!”
Tears streamed down my cheeks as our firstborn toddler, Sarah-Faith, bawled, pouring out her heart’s longing to return to our little cozy shire in the woods in Canada.
A 24-hour almost-sleepless plane journey home later, here we were living temporarily in an apartment belonging to another family, our gratitude for their generosity painfully eroded by an overwhelming sense of homesickness.
Individual jet-lag becomes a tall order to overcome when two little human beings’ jet-lags become your responsibility, your eyes filled with tears when your two-year old hugs you at midnight, crying, unable to express her bewilderment and shock at not being able to “Go Home.”
“We’re in Singapore now, sweetheart. I know it’s a smaller place. We have to look for our new home.”
“NOOOO! Go BIG Home!”
Hardly three days had passed when I watched you grow in years. Your confidence to sleep alone in an adult bed for the first time (and in a foreign place!), your resilience in overcoming jetlag, your determination in finding joy in new things and places, even when we all knew this was a major change for us all. Even more so for you, our toddler who loves her routine circumscribed on her terms.
At the end of a long day of viewing homes, as we asked God where our home for the next 20 months might be, I found a little rundown coffee shop stashed in a corner, a sight I had not seen in years since we were away.
In the humidity and heat of the late afternoon, in the grime and hustle of the heartland, amidst loud chatter of elderly men drinking and people slurping hot noodle soup, we found a spot to sit down to unwind, if only for a moment, “This is one of Mama’s favorite things to do, Sarah-Faith. This is a hawker center. This is Teh-C (tea with evaporated milk). And THIS is Kaya Toast.”
As your eyes lit up, that characteristic courage I know so well of you took over, and you held it in your little hands, like a tiny bunny, ready to try yet another new and foreign thing.
You wiped it all up, saved a little morsel to tuck away in your little Tupperware and said with a grin, “EAT LATERRR.”
A smile that lit up the world for me, even as part of our hearts, left behind in another part of the world, ached.
A smile that promised me we would find new adventures here and beyond; That change represented pain, but also growth; that this would be the first of many changes we would go through but they would all make us stronger; that someday I would face answering hard questions you’d ask me about the lives we lived, straddled between two, three, four countries… but for now, it would be simpler.
“KAAAA-YAAHH toast,” you said, licking your lips.
Papa and I had left as two and now, returned as four.
Welcome to Singapore and Mama’s new world, Braveheart.
Till our next home,
Sarah-Faith’s ice cream toy truck. Last Christmas, Cliff’s Mum gave our firstborn a little singing ice cream toy truck that fulfilled all the grand, eternal longings of a little two year old. Yet, the impending move to Singapore meant leaving behind what she loved most.
“Maybe we can bring it with us!” Cliff would say, almost seriously, giving his fatherly tenderness away.
As we commenced packing our lives into five suitcases, a question arose within me: What if it’s bad for them?
Perhaps, that’s the hardest question parents will ever ask, regarding the decisions we make for our children.
In a season of moving again, our 11th big move in the past six years of marriage over four countries, we’ve received our fair share of wagging fingers, not less now with two little ones in tow.
“Have you thought about their future?”
“Aren’t you robbing them of a stable life?”
“Isn’t it unhealthy to live this way?”
Yet, both Cliff and I know, that every move has not been a whim but a decision borne out of prayer.
I did notice, however, that since having children, my worries were amplified.
What about their education, security, development, healthcare?
“What? You don’t even know where you’ll stay when you move to Singapore? You only have a few weeks left!”
My heart sank, as the temporary accommodation options we were presented were either exorbitant or unsuitable. When a place within budget came up, it was a 1-bedroom apartment. For a family of four, it would be a squeeze.
We were desperate. After all, we needed a place to stay for at least the first month while looking for longer term accommodation for the remaining year and a half where I had to serve out my contract as a medical doctor with the government.
One day, a volunteer from Kitesong Global who lives in Australia and whom I’ve never met reached out to me about her family friend from Melbourne, who has a vacant 3-bedroom apartment in Singapore.
“Would you like to stay there for the first month?” came the question.
Tears welled up in my eyes as I felt God ask, “Is there anything your family needs that I can’t provide?”
Later on, I had goosebumps when I discovered the divine “coincidence”- that the owner’s sister, who was staying in the apartment temporarily, had planned to move out the very afternoon we landed in Singapore.
Where we fear to tread, God is already there.
One day, half-jokingly but also earnestly, I told Cliff, “I’m praying for a Singaporean Sarah to love on Sarah-Faith.”
Sarah is a close friend of ours in the States who is a homeschooling mum with two young sons, and who looks after a little girl who goes to their home every day.
With me returning back to Singapore to complete my work contract before we, God-willing, returned to serve in a developing country, I longed for a Mama friend to help Cliff with caring for our exuberant toddler for a few hours each day when I was at work, so he could work on his part time theological studies and get some rest.
But I wanted someone who would love on Sarah-Faith like family, and who loved God deeply.
For months, I kept this prayer deep in my heart, sharing it regularly only with Cliff and with God. It was a ridiculous prayer, especially since homeschooling is uncommon in Singapore.
A month ago, a lady whom I’d met only once at her wedding years ago reached out to me via text and said, “I would very very much like to take Sarah-Faith for homeschooling lessons, if you think it’s a good idea. My husband and I prayed about it and are convicted not to charge you and Cliff for it, because it’s our ministry to you both- SF would be like family to us.”
Like family to us.
Tears welled up in my eyes. In yet another divine “coincidence”, I learnt that she, too, has two little boys.
When no one knew my heart’s desires, God did. He provided our “Singaporean Sarah.” I learned, that truly, could anyone love our children more than God does?
One day, I chanced upon a photo of this Mama’s younger son. In the background, was the exact ice-cream toy truck Sarah-Faith has. It was then I was told, that the ice cream toy truck was bought by none other than the little boy’s Grandma- last Christmas too.
Tears built up behind my eyes.
In yet another uncanny coincidence, I felt God ask me, “Have I ever left you or your family to sink when you obeyed Me to walk on water?”
Truly, God is ready to meet us on the other side, even when we fail to see Him.
Days later, at a farewell visit, a close friend of Cliff gave us a big set of Megablocks for our children. As soon as he gave the gift to us, my heart sank again, knowing there was no way we could bring it back to Singapore for them to enjoy.
Two days later, a friend from Singapore who volunteered to help us collate kid items for our children before we landed, texted me, “I set aside this for you. Would you and your children like to have it?”
It was a box of Megablocks, exactly the same as the ones we had to leave behind.
When no one knew my heart’s desires for our children’s play and growth, God did. He provided an identical set of Megablocks, an identical ice cream toy truck, as if asking me once more: Can you love your children more than I can?
Weeks passed and through the collective love of strangers and friends, we had most of the items we needed to help our children settle back in Singapore, besides housing (which we are still praying for) and one other item.
Interestingly, no one had the co-sleeper (a little basket) I needed for our infant to sleep in.
Just last week, a friend’s friend reached out to me, “Is there anything else you need?”
Half-heartedly I asked if she might have a co-sleeper, knowing the chances were extremely slim. So many mothers I had already connected with did not have this specific item. I texted her a photo of the one our baby was sleeping in, a gift that someone had handed down to us second hand.
“Oh my, I have it, identical to the one in your photo! And I have two! Would you like both?”
Again and again, through this series of uncanny coincidences, I felt God ask, “Is there anything your family needs that I cannot provide?”
Clothes, a stroller, car seats came in, from friends and people I have never met.
Just last night, as Cliff and I started to wonder about long term accommodation, a patient I had met more than ten years ago when I was a medical student, who said I had touched her life then, offered to help us with our housing search as she’s since become a real estate agent.
“I don’t need the commission fee. Could you just cover my petrol cost?”
It made me wonder- What if our stepping out in faith is bad for our children? But, what if it’s not? What if it’s good, even necessary for them?
I am constantly worrying- about whether our children might be negatively impacted by constant change, whether Sarah-Faith’s eczema might worsen with the move, by whether someday, all this might just take its toll on us and bite us in the back.
But more recently, I felt Him ask, “What if, the questions you asked were not ‘What if this jeopardizes our stability? What if the risks are too great? What if we lose what we now have?”, but rather, ‘What if we trust God?” How would our lives be led differently?
I admit, it would be far easier for all of us to stay in Canada, in a home we can finally call ours, with our green backyard overlooking a quiet forest in uneventful surburbia. It would save us the cost of long flights, the inconvenience of packing, the anxiety of having no place to stay when we land, the stresses of constantly moving, the uncertainty of entering yet another unknown future in a rural place with questionable security, healthcare and education when we finally do serve in a developing country again, God-willing.
Yet, few of us consider the danger of staying safe.
Perhaps, too few of us understand the perils of living our lives in comfort and luxury when we fail to realize how much we deprive ourselves and our children of the many miracles, great and small, that God orchestrates on our behalf when we let go of what means so much to us.
Perhaps, too few of us understand the grave crime we commit, of robbing our children of the opportunity to witness the reality of God, when we hold back out of fear.
“What if stepping out is bad for our children?” We ask innocently.
But- what if NOT stepping out was a far worse reality than what we could possibly imagine, for us AND our children?
Surely in the physical, we would be safer, more secure, more stable. The less radical life would certainly be more convenient.
But what if the consequences of NOT walking in faith were graver because we exchanged the spiritual foundations of our children, what could have grown to become a sea of faith, for sinking sand?
If you’re holding back today out of fear for what might happen to you or your children, know this- that God’s already on the other side. For everything you’ve surrendered or left behind or given up, know that He loves you and your children far too much to leave you to sink.
For when you walk on water, there’ll be an ice cream truck waiting for you on the other side.
And there will He be, too.
* if you might know of a 3-4 BR place for rental in the west/north/central of Singapore, please let us know. Thank you.
Recently, a savage flare of eczema upon Sarah-Faith broke our hearts as we watched this trooper of a child battle through excruciating distress day after day. Angry red welts of eczema blanketed her little body and I spent many nights crying out for God to heal her.
After many months of intensive moisturizing regimens that felt bewildering and agonizing for a child going through the terrible twos, disappointing doctors visits, and what we felt was a spiritual battle that left us feeling discouraged, guilty and exhausted, especially after having just had a newborn, we finally reached tipping point and saw immense improvement over the past week.
Today, tears welled up in my eyes as Sarah-Faith stretched out both her arms and said to me, “All better now! Thank you Jesus!” before running off to the playground.
As I caught a glimpse of her precious smile as she started running, I was reminded of the joy she has kept through this entire ordeal. Through the days of unbearable itch, tears and bleeding, she always found reason every day to smile, to laugh and to say the words “Thank you Mama, thank you Papa, thank you Jesus.”
To all of you who have been praying for us, thank you.
It’s not productive, I know,
To hold you like this.
When there’re a thousand things
I could do but now miss.
The lawn needs a’mowing, the laundry a’folding,
I could go for a jog, or finally blog.
I have bills to pay, a book to write,
Emails piled up with no end in sight.
I know I should leave you in the bassinet or crib,
That’s what Super Moms do, the kinds that don’t fib.
I should always put you down drowsy but awake,
Let you cry-it-out, for goodness sake.
No nursing to bed, no rocking to sleep,
That’s how Unproductiveness will, into our lives, creep.
No spoiling the baby, that’s a crime they say,
That’s for moms who (gasp) waste their time away.
The house is quiet now,
What a rare treat.
I should put you down and cook for the week.
But instead, I bend down,
Scoop you up, unfold your frown.
Hold you close to my nose,
To smell your hair, like a rose.
Time stops, I breathe,
Promise me you’ll never leave.
It’s true what they say,
That the days are long but the years, so short.
When moments slip away, they can never be re-bought.
Your older sis is only two,
But out of the door she bolts through,
No more kisses or hugs, just “Buh-bye Mama!” Without looking back.
How times flies- she’s omnipotent now,
A big girl without any lack.
So for now, I’ll hold you, my cherry blossom,
As you breathe daisy breaths right on my bosom.
I’ll savour your face to catch a delicious milkdrunk smile,
I’ll give up the world, for this wee little while.
It’s not productive, I know,
To hold you like this.
But I’d trade that to know
What it means to know Bliss.
It was unanswerable, up to now.
Over and over, people would ask me, “How did you go through labor at home without drugs? Is that even possible?”
The way it was asked, it always seemed rhetorical, so I never had to answer. Few occasions provided the circumstances where answering wouldn’t make someone squirmish anyway.
Labor is, after all, pretty graphic.
It’s a relief I never had to face the question head-on, because it was not until recently that I found the answer.
And no, it has nothing to do with how high my pain threshold is, how “brave” I am or any special visualization techniques. It’s far more simple than that.
In natural labor, there is stage called the “transition point”, where the mother feels like giving up- and it is very, very close to birth. It is the point where contractions pile up one over another and the pain becomes overwhelming, giving way to an inexorable desire to push and birth something glorious.
In our first birth, this point came deep in the night, hours after contractions had begun in the early morning.
This time, however, it was all a blurry whiz.
We were having lunch when I felt like perhaps, Baby would arrive that evening. Cliff tried to convince me to let him call our midwife while I tried convincing him that finishing my spring roll was of greater urgency.
“Just a few more minutes,” I said, looking for a bottle of Thai sweet chili sauce, while our firstborn toddler pointed to her Paw Patrol book and said, “MAMA, READ! READ PATROL!”
Another contraction came, throwing me on my hands and knees, at the perfect level to read to our toddler, who was oblivious to the drama about to unfold.
“I’m calling Barb now,” said Cliff.
For both births, the pain that followed quickly intensified. They were drug-free but certainly not painless.
Later, our midwife told me, “You’re not the first woman I’ve delivered a baby for with a drug-free home birth but you’re certainly the first who’s never ASKED for pain relief during her labor.”
As I reflected on why the entire ordeal felt so painful yet drug-free, an intense spiritual lesson emerged.
I realized why it was that this labor felt so frightening, but passed even more quickly and smoothly than the first- After all, is it not true, that it is precisely when we feel so overwhelmed and helpless, that God’s power becomes tangibly present and manifest in our circumstances?
I learned, in both labors, that to overcome and triumph over real pain, is not to reject, push or run away from it, but instead, to lean into it.
In life, our instinct to pain is to fight or flee. When something hurts, we want out immediately. In today’s instant culture, any quick-fix to numb our pain is alluring.
What labor taught me, however, changed my life forever.
For every contraction that came, instead of yelling, resisting, or straining like in the movies, I remembered what Cliff had told me about his strategy in completing his IronMan endurance event- “I relaxed the whole way through the marathon, after the swim and bike. The key is to relax- I pretended to hold a potato chip with my middle finger and thumb in each hand instead of clenching my fists while I ran. It was that simple.”
Since labor was an endurance event, we felt I could apply the same. So I did.
Whenever a wave of pain came, instead of fighting it, I relaxed. At the peak of the pain, I leaned into it, like a hug.
It was counterintuitive. But it worked.
It worked, because the pain that overwhelmed me was the very pain needed to bring the baby to birth.
In the same way, when we are overwhelmed by life’s trials and challenges, do we believe that our pain has a specific purpose, and if we allow it to do its work in our lives, it can bring forth something more precious than scars- perseverance, endurance, faith, and bring to birth some of the deepest dreams in our hearts?
I am learning- that Pain, when leaned into, can birth some of the most beautiful and glorious things in our lives.
I realized, that what was needed, was not for me to try and manage the pain or get on top of it, but to simply trust its purpose and let it do its work in my life.
Leaning in always feels excruciating in the moment- we may be forced to face our greatest flaws, our deepest doubts, our darkest hurts. But when we choose to, will we not find, looking back, that it was the most meaningful way for us to grow in greater grace and deeper maturity.
Life’s sufferings become bearable, when we fix our eyes on the joy that is set before us, that is to come, even when we cannot feel it in the moment.
As the contractions intensified and piled continuously above one another, there came a point I believed I could not withstand it. In this labor, this transition point came far sooner, so soon that it made me afraid I wouldn’t withstand the long and trying road ahead. What I didn’t know, was how quickly it would pass.
Just four minutes after the midwife’s assistant walked through our doors, I picked up our baby in my arms, through tears of joy.
So often are we that close to receiving our breakthrough. But we waver, not realizing that the length of our struggle does not determine the probability or nearness of our breakthrough.
Yet, if we continue to press on and lean in, trusting that God has permitted the pain in our lives for a purpose, trusting that our responsibility is not to numb but embrace it, will we not come to enjoy the great reward borne out of our deepest, most desperate cries?
I was in pain. I felt utterly helpless. I was too far into labor to ask for any kind of relief. And yet, once I surrendered to the pain, our baby popped out, head first, with my umbilical cord wrapped twice round her neck and the rest of her slipped out, all pink.
On my knees, holding her, I cried and laughed all at once, not realizing how this short but intense labor had reflected the past season we had journeyed through- filled with pain but also glorious God-filled hope at the end.
Minutes later, I found out that in spite of the speed of the labor, I did not suffer any tears or require any stitches. It was then that I remembered what I read somewhere- that serious perineal and vaginal tears can happen when one strains too hard or resists the contractions.
Likewise, often, when we fight the pain allowed in our lives and strain against it, we can create serious collateral damage that can take even longer than the pain itself to heal from.
If you are in pain this season, trust Him and lean in. At the peak of your suffering, when you think all is lost and you feel like giving up, know that your breakthrough is near.
When you do, I promise, the most beautiful gift of joy and reward will surely be borne out of it.
May your eyes then, like mine were, be filled with tears of joy and laughter.
Happy First Month, sweetheart.
For all the joy you’ve brought into our world,