"We don’t have to love suffering, just the results," my pastor said.
I dropped my head as the words hit my heart and the tears swelled in my eyes. I was six weeks pregnant, trying to run my household, feed my family, and keep up with my one year old—all the while struggling with debilitating nausea and vomiting.
And I wasn't doing a very good job.
I was sure after I dropped Isaiah off for Sunday school they might not return him.
I couldn't even remember the last time he'd had a bath.
The day before, I had passed out on the floor. I woke up an hour later to Isaiah's tool set beside me, his little wooden pliers in hand while he plucked my hair out one strand at a time. Ouch.
Dinner was my husband scrounging up meals fit for a bachelor.
In the meantime, there I laid. Pale and sick on the bathroom floor.
One conclusion was possible for my sick and tired brain:
I was a bad mom.
I was a failure of a wife.
My mom was coming into town to help until my midwife could find the right combination of medications to creat a version of "Gracie" that was at the very least "functional".
This sermon described exactly where I found myself.
The word sunk into my soul reverbrating throughout my body. I'd never thought to describe my pregnancies this way. Maybe hard and difficult, but I'd never before identified this as suffering. It felt wrong to describe a condition many described as "beautiful" in such a terrible way.
However, in this quiet and simple moment, as I sat there in church, God had used my pastor to speak the exact words I needed to hear.
This wasn't a wrong or terrible way to describe pregnancy, in fact, it was the true nature of what I was experiencing. This new description completely changed my attitude and perspective as I was, and am, wrestling through each day.
"Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." (James 1:2)
We are all going through various trials. Our bodies will continually fail us. There will be times when we can't be the wives or moms we expect ourselves to be. However, when we embrace these seasons of suffering and submit ourselves to the Lord, joy in the reward to come becomes our daily war cry.
Over the next month there was a transformation of my heart.
Instead of praying, "How can I stop this? Lord, put me out of my misery."
I began to ask God:
How can I glorify you in my home despite my circumstances?
Lord, remind me again of the reward in the end. Eternal and present.
Create a steadfast spirit within me.
The bitterness I held against God for allowing such a difficult pregnancy disappeared almost overnight and was replaced with peace.
A peace in knowing that no matter the results on my body, baby, and family we were all safely held within the Lord's hands.
The joy came one evening as I laid on our bathroom floor feeling sorry for myself. I was begging the nausea to leave and the medications to work.
The door was cracked. After Isaiah finished his dinner, he snuck away from his daddy and into the bathroom. He walked slipped under my blanket, cuddled up, and planted a tiny kiss on my cheek.
I wrapped an arm around him, and for the first time—despite my pounding head and the overwhelming sense of nausea—there was joy in this sweet moment between me and my firstborn.
Through this small experience, God seemed to be speaking a profound message to me.
This is what Christ did for you. He suffered so you could have life.
What better answer to my prayers could I have been given? As I am the vessel used to create and grow life, Christ has given me and my babies the opportunity to have eternal life. What a gift and what joy this brings to my soul.
This was the beauty to be found in pregnancy. Not pretty maternity photos. Not fancy baby showers. Not in a painless medicated birth.
The beauty is found in the gospel.
These days do not look like the pretty Christian sayings we see plastered across social media. They are gritty. They are long. They are covered in vomit, prayers, and tears.
And that's okay.
Today, your suffering probably doesn't look like mine. Yet, as a Christian, I hope—instead of seeing yourself as a victim of tragedy and a sinful world—you see yourself as the Lord does.
Someone who is producing steadfastness so that you may be perfect and complete, and lacking in nothing (James 1:2).
Our earthly bodies, friends, and situations may fail us, but we serve a God who will never fail us. Furthermore, our success in motherhood and as a wife is not dependent on our health status. It's dependent on our attitudes and heart posture.
God is good and gracious.
He is faithful, He is enough, and He is wise.
May we embrace the seasons as God places them in front of us and count it all for joy, because no matter our situation, the reward at the end is greater than we can ever imagine.