“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”
–CS Lewis, Mere Christianity
I know what I want from God.
Many nights I’ve breathed the simple prayer “Jesus, give me peace.” But when He wakes me in the morning and takes my hand to shepherd me there, I turn my face. I want a simple blanket feeling that like a bandage gently covers my troubled thoughts, but that’s not what He gives. He gives a penetrating peace that stands firmly rooted even in storms, which means I must deal with some hard truths. So I sink back down and pray the same prayer over and over while refusing to look to Him and see the answer He’s giving. I won’t get to the still waters He promises because the journey from glory to glory is just too tiring.
I want a swift switch of emotions as convenient as a change of clothes, but He wants to reach in and change my heart so I can see what is true, what’s been true all along. He must correct some deceptive ways of thinking that keep me from seeing Him the right way and in turn keep me from approaching Him like a Father. If I really believed He was who He says, if I actually knew His heart and character, my supply of peace would never be exhausted! I just refuse to look to Him long enough to let Him change me. But He’s committed to getting me the still waters I long for, even more resolved than I am.
I saw His commitment to me a few Sundays ago. I spent time reading verses like “He gives grace to the humble” and “He who is bowed down will be speedily released” and saw how humility is effectual. We get the result we want–grace and healing– when we are willing to let Him reach in and empty us, making us vessels for His love, His peace. I wasn’t totally prepared for the hard work of clearing out when I asked for humility. Cue emotional flare-ups.
Pretty quickly after I prayed for Him to humble me, He switched my gears and turned me toward those still waters I wanted. But like I said, the road there isn’t always a smooth one. A comment one person made coupled with an unexpected pregnancy side effect were enough to push me over the edge of where I felt comfortable. My humanity was confronted and I felt condemned and weak, ill-prepared for what I had gotten into. I was tempted to self-pity until I took a second to think those inflamed emotions might be worth exploring if it meant moving toward peace.
Those emotional responses showed me areas of my life I’m not surrendered to truth. Dark places I’m not allowing Him to thoroughly redeem the way He intends. Incomplete parts of me that could be whole if only I would look to Him, to see Him as He is–and to trust. I really believe Jesus came to restore us to Shalom, but the peace He has in mind for us is not the easy change-of-clothes peace we’re looking for. In that place we find the tension of living between the “already” (what’s been done for us once/for all on the Cross) and the “not yet” (the promise that we will be restored to the way we were meant to be: like Him).
It’s tempting to despair in this tension, where the hard work of a renewed mind seems like too much. The truth is, the emotional peace I am looking for isn’t promised from day to day, and my awareness of it even when I do have it waxes and wanes. But underneath I have a firm foundation, something sturdier than my changing will and weak resolve. Beneath this fight to believe Him when He says He’s gentle and good, beneath those moments when I feel like I’ve arrived only to be reminded of one more crappy part of me I have to deal with, beneath my failure in doing the opposite of what He tells me is good for me, there is peace. The peace He accomplished on the cross–my restored relationship with the Father, in whose presence healing is found. Peace that justifies. Peace that means my performance doesn’t change the verdict. Peace that means I’ll never have to taste the sting of death or condemnation. Peace that doesn’t change just because my emotions do. He answered my prayer for peace on the cross long before I even prayed it.
How far along? 28 weeks today. My belly suddenly popped last week! See below.
Baby is the size of a: Papaya, still. Haven’t seen one of those that I can recall, so I did some Google research until I came across something more familiar. Cauliflower & large eggplant sound better! Next week: winter squash. (The app I use is British. I think that’s why the fruits and veggies haven’t been resonating.)
Total weight gain: Well, my guess last week was totally wrong. Up 18 lbs!
Maternity clothes? Always, only. My standard boxy dress + tights thing isn’t working with the sub-zero temps, so I’ve been wearing my skinny pants underneath dresses. Gotta be creative in such a time as this! Needing a new winter coat as my current one barely buttons around my belly.
Sleep: I knew the second semester sleep honeymoon was too good to be true. And I know if I complain now, you’ll all say “it’s only gonna get worse.” But let me say, sleeping is not a joy for me these days. My legs and feet cramp and if I don’t have a pillow cradling every crevice of my pregnant body, I wake up with the sorest hips. Plus, I’m still waking up 4ish times a night to pee. Maybe this is God’s cute way of preparing a sleep-monger like me for a life without much sleep very soon.
Best moment this week: It hasn’t been the easiest week for me so far mentally. Feels like I need a lot of energy to muster up a fight against bad attitudes at work and sharp reactions to Tim at home. But there are also interrupting moments when God takes my blinders off and I’m able to see His kindness in refining me.
Movement: I’m getting used to his patterns. He is super dancey after meals. I usually don’t feel him in the morning until I’m on the way to work, and he’s especially crazy at night when I’m lying down, up until I fall asleep. Sometimes even in the middle of the night he wakes me up! This afternoon I could see him moving under my skin. That was a first.
Food cravings: Not as admirable this week, unfortunately. Ate a whole box of Good & Plenty in 2 days. Also requiring probably more coffee than is healthy for me, with probably more sugar than is healthy for me too. I’ve had hankerings for Indian food and hot dogs (my mom craved chili dogs, but I haven’t gone there yet). And still lots of sour and lots of apples and lots of greens. Can’t get enough salads! Had the BEST arugula, pecorino, apple, and beet salad tonight that brought together all my sour and salty and peppery cravings. Wanted to lick the plate. People have also asked if I’ve had any aversions. The answer is not really. The only tough thing is eating foods I ate when I was getting sick during the first trimester. So that includes crackers, eggs, yogurt, and bananas. Black beans are also kind of hard for me, as is red meat.
Miss Anything? Nothing major. The benefits of pregnancy for me and all the things I’ve learned far outweigh anything I could miss. Those things are petty to me, really. And the things considered “no-no’s” during pregnancy haven’t been super attractive to me, anyway.
Symptoms: Still several BH contractions every day. Lots of peeing. Getting bigger & consequently sorer all over, particularly in my hips and mid-back (lower hasn’t been too bad, which is a surprise). Chiropractic has helped a ton. Finding it harder and harder to bend over and zip those boots, so Tim kindly takes care of that for me every day. I’ve also had a few infections which don’t need to be described in great detail. Never fun, and actually kinda risky in these later trimesters as they can cause preterm labor. I had a non-stress test last week to check if my contractions were anything serious, which they weren’t. Antibiotics solved the problems, but they sure did make me sick!
Mood? A cup of tea and a clean house tonight are just what I needed.
Looking forward to: Duh, meeting my guy. I can’t get over how cute his ultrasound is. Cutest baby face I’ve ever seen in an ultrasound. No offense to all you other babies reading. Also, we have our nursery game plan. Big trip to get the furniture next week, and then hopefully putting in wood floors upstairs. Nesting much?