The things we must protect

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The room in the corner feels much larger. The bare walls and open space feels warm and inviting rather than cold and sterile. For some reason, this empty room makes the reality of motherhood settle in much deeper than my growing belly.

And the open space creates a tension in my heart. One I haven’t felt before.

I feel a heavy weight, all the things we need and should get rid of. The parenting books unopened on the floor. I think of the hospital and giving birth and wonder how my body will actually do this. I know women do this everyday but I’ve never done it before.

Will it be possible for me too?

I look at myself in the mirror, my stretched stomach and chest covered in bright blue veins. A dark line runs up my belly. I can’t see my toes. I feel empowered and proud but wonder if this body, the one I’ve known and lived in for 29 years will ever be the same. The body I used to be quite unkind to and frustrated with most days.

The one I’ve now grown a deep appreciation towards.

It probably won’t be the same and maybe that’s a good thing.

I think of the nightly feedings. The family culture we hope to create. The way time with my husband will look and feel so different. The endless trail of thoughts seems to pause at the same place - how will my own rhythms and routines change?

You see, I crave structure and control, even as each day right now looks so different than the one before. I desire accomplishment and getting things done and admit to you this -- my expectations of what is good and enough is often too high.

 Photo by  Toa Heftiba  on  Unsplash

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

Yes, I am so incredibly excited to be a mom. There are days I want to meet him right now. I wonder if his nose, the one I saw in a grainy picture, will look like my husbands. I think about the dimple on his chin and our eyes meeting for the first time.

I ache to know the sound of his laugh. I dream of walks and marveling over creation together and can’t wait to see my husband as a father. I desire to lean on God in a completely new way, beg for strength during the pain and exhaustion, and learn how to ask and receive help.

But there’s a tension too, right?

When the walls feel bare and we wonder what we should hang up. When we are offered time and space and feel anxious to fill it. When the future looks murky and deep like the ocean but also tempting and inviting.

There’s fear of change and what might never be quite how it was. There’s worry and doubt of being capable and strong enough. The scarcity mindset sets in, of falling far behind in all we hope to do and accomplish.

How will any of it get done? Do I put certain dreams aside? Will they matter less when he’s here? Will they matter even more?

 Photo by  Ben White  on  Unsplash

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

In some ways, I think we are always in a season of too much and too little. Too much work and too little leisure. Too much hustle and not enough rest. Doubt without trust. 

We live inside both.

And as we dwell there, we ache for steady ground, a safe resting place, a way to stay tethered to the things that matter. We feel grateful and hopeful but maybe if we’re honest, a little restless and dissatisfied too.

We cup it all in our hands.

On my best days, I carry these hands to the altar, the ones filled with both joy and fear and empty it all out. On my worst, I keep filling them and wonder why I feel so tired.

It isn’t just motherhood, it’s an everyday we wake up sort of thing. It’s wondering if we’re doing what we need to do right now and if we’re doing any of it well. It’s the wrestle between where we want to go and where we’ve been called to go.

Because sometimes the call and the want looks the same and sometimes they look vastly different.

It’s owning our limitations, rather than ignoring them.

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Maybe you’re like me, someone who craves slowness and solitude but also loves community. Someone who enjoys time alone to recharge, walks on paths lined with trees, being close to the water, and time spent in her journal. Someone who wishes ideas and follow through came quickly but recognizes time and empty space are necessary for anything to grow.

You can’t rush a seed to bloom and produce fruit.

Why do we think we could do the same with our souls?

So maybe, when it comes to balance and structure and healthy rhythms, I’ve been asking the wrong question. Instead of, how will I get it all done, it should be -- what do I need to protect once he’s here?

Maybe it’s listing the things that keep me well and deciding to do them. Writing in my journal while he sleeps instead of washing the dishes. Asking a friend to come over for coffee when the house is a mess and we’re out of creamer. Saying no to one more commitment and saying yes to a nap. Taking a ten minute walk outside instead of scrolling on my phone.

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It’s choosing gratitude when this happens and offering grace when it doesn’t.

The things we need to protect might change. Expectations ebb and flow. Things needing our focus right now might move to the peripheral come winter. And things on hold, waiting patiently on the back burner, might be held close and dusted off by next year.

We might need to clear the cutter to find the empty space.

Or maybe, I need to learn how to carve out a nook in the mess and call it good and holy.

My prayer these days? Lord, make clear what counts and for how long. Help me chase gratitude and choose worship as I remain faithful to the work in front of me --- those tasks I want to do and those that feel hard to do. Help me say no and yes with authority. Not rigidity, just authority. Help me trust you while I wait for the margin to come. Knowing that just because I can’t do something right now, or hear “not yet”, doesn’t mean that thing will never happen.

Help me carve out a nook in the mess and still make art.

 Photo by  Hilary Hyland

Photo by Hilary Hyland

Our limitations can be barriers or borders. Barriers are what I put in the way of getting things done -- pride, discontent, and fear.

Borders protect my heart and keep me well.

Seeking balance isn’t so much the struggle as expecting balance to look the same in every season. Because we all have dreams, fears, and questions resting under the surface. And there’s a God who sees and tends to all of it, directing both the wind and our steps.

What if for right now, we chose trust instead of worry and surrender over control. 

What if we emptied our hands when it all felt too heavy to hold? Instead of collecting more.

Not because it sounds pretty on a page but because that’s the promise we’ve been given. That’s the place we’ve been called.

Let’s name the things we want to protect. And when we’re unsure of what they are, let’s sit long enough in the quiet to ask.

Things will rise to the surface and when they do, let’s offer a sigh of gratitude and relief. Trusting that they aren’t going anywhere, they dwell deep within us. We can hold it loosely for now.

Because our God cares about all of it. We haven't been forgotten.