Lately I’ve found myself doing a lot of things while sitting down. Thinking. Eating. Giving instructions to my husband.
To be honest, it slightly offends my sense of self-importance to sit down, because people who do things standing up appear taller and more important.
Each morning while approaching the ludicrous task of dressing my pregnant self, I sit down on the bed to stare at my closet. I look at my clothes and say, “Look, if you’re not made entirely of loose elastic, we are not even going to have a conversation.” My clothes look down at me condescendingly, because they appear taller and skinnier while I’m sitting down.
This is exactly what I’m talking about.
I used to see every activity as a subtle challenge to my will and physical fitness. Each time I saw a box that needed carrying, a mountain to be climbed, a task to be done, I would think, “I can do that.” And I would. I would lift and carry and stand because I was both capable and recklessly competitive. But lately I’ve felt the need to sit down more often, the need to rest. I’m still resisting the urge to apologize each and every time.
Several weeks ago, I had a conversation with my boss about maternity leave. After lots of prayer preparation, I grew bold, straightened my posture, and asked for something truly outrageous. I asked for a part time schedule, and I asked for it to start a few weeks before I had this pretty little baby.
The moment I asked I felt a little weak and a little small and a little vulnerable, because in asking I was admitting that I was actually very, very tired. I was admitting that I needed to sit down more often. Was that okay? To my surprise he said yes.
Then last weekend we attempted a camping trip to Catalina Island with some friends. When we arrived to the island it was below 55 degrees and pouring rain, which in southern California equates to a verifiable natural disaster. The locals warned us about “the mud problem” in the area, but we charged ahead as determined and competitive adventurers.
The four of us carried backpacks through inches of liquid mud that suctioned our shoes and splashed around our ankles.
We walked through the developing quicksand while pretending it was fun and staring at the sky for signs of mercy. The sun never arrived, I got really tired, and finally after a few hours I whispered the words, “Guys. I can’t do this. Can we go home?”
They said yes and we went home early, because as much as I wanted to be the girl that could hike and camp and carry a backpack in a mudslide at 7.5 months pregnant, I’m just not. Right now I’m the girl that gets tired easily, that accepts the seat you offer her, and that always, ALWAYS seems to be hungry.
I’m now convinced that reasonable portion sizes no longer apply to chocolate chip cookies. I’ve started calling them “vitamin pancakes,” and that makes me feel better.
It seems to me that pregnancy, even in all its wonder and anticipation, is a 40-week pathway that rushes you the end of yourself, a sort of starvation diet for your well-nourished pride. In this state, a flight of stairs can feel as insurmountable as Everest while the holiday season advertises the arrival of your accidental body double: Santa Claus.
I hear parenthood starves out pride the same way, that being in charge of a little person reveals the shallow and imaginary reaches of our grasp of control. But maybe it also solidifies the gravitational belief in a bigger, fuller, love-saturated life that is worth the sacrifice of sleep and time and bathroom privacy.
When Oswald Chambers talks about the pride diet of self-denial he says, “Beware of refusing to go to the funeral of your own independence.” Big love always costs something.
Jesus came so many Christmases ago to round up all the wayward orphans and reconcile us to a really good, persistently redemptive Father. The whole entire Gospel boils down to a picture of sacrificial, love-saturated parenting. Isn’t that comforting?
Maybe every pride diet, whether it’s pregnancy or change or anything else, invites us deeper into a parent-child relationship with a God who’s bigger and taller and more important. He has been that way all along, but sometimes we just have to sit down to notice, sit down to surrender the competition we concocted with our over-nourished pride.
I’m resting more often, relying on a Parent that confronts my mudslide vulnerability with a love-saturated grace.
And I’m sitting down.
I’m releasing the competition, slowing the climb, speaking up when I really can’t do ____.
By the way, I’m still looking for an outfit made entirely out of elastic, but that’s a different story altogether. It might have something to do with
chocolate chip cookies vitamin pancakes.