Sunday, December 12, 2010

A little less than holy

As you might imagine, I've felt a different type of connection with Mary this season.  I can appreciate the joy and celebration and awe of having that child in her womb, even though mine isn't the son of God.  (Something for which I am grateful b/c I am not really ready for that responsibility).

Even at the 19th week of pregnancy, the baby is beautifully and wonderfully made.  It has all of its body parts, it has eyebrows and fingernails, even it's own distinct fingerprints and toe prints!  God's creativity resides throughout the creation of this child in a way that is beyond words.  God is meticulous.  It's amazing.

That's the romantic side of the story. 

But there's another side to the story.  A side for which I have a new type of sympathy.

In pregnancy, there is a weird chaotic thing that happens to your body.  There are new aches and pains.  You grow and change in ways you didn't expect. Not just your belly, but all over.  There are headaches and hemorrhoids, in addition to the nausea and vomiting and other not-so-glorious changes that will remained unmentioned here.

On more than one occasion, I have had to run out from a meal or a meeting because I was instantly and unexpectedly sick.  And at moments like that, I have to wonder, "I wonder what Mary thought in moments like these."   I wonder if she still felt like this was a holy experience.  Or if it was all a little less than divine.  Is this really what I signed up for? 

There's something about the promise of holding that child that sort of makes it all ok.  But there's that other side that says, "You know, I could maybe give this up."  I could leave the sickness and the pain in the dust. 

Now, the doctor says it's all normal.  And I'm glad it's all ok for him.  But for me, someone who has had a fairly healthy body for all of her life, the signs and symptoms seem not so normal to me. 

Yet her reality, indeed my reality, shows me a deeper truth about what happens when we sign up to do something miraculous or marvelous with God: There's this chaotic thing that happens around any work of God.  There is the romantic part that is sparkling and beautiful and decorated.  It's shiny and perfect and gives us hope in each moment.  But then there's the behind the scenes part.  The reality.  That's part of doing the work of God.  Whatever we are called to will be creative and awe inspiring, and in the midst of that there will be chaos--distractions and obstacles and frustrations.  A whole host of things that make us ask: Did I really sign up for this? 

There are many who say that pregnancy was the best part of their life, and I am waiting for that to be true for me.  Because this business is not what I thought I was signing up for.  And for many of us, when we sign up to help God, we feel something similar. We want to be beyond the chaos and the clutter, we want to be there already. 

But the reality is we don't get to side step the chaos. We don't get to ignore it.  To be God's servant means we get both the glory and the aches and pains.  I don't know anyone, not one single person, who can testify to what God has done for them or in them who didn't have trials along the way.  The chaos is a natural side effect of what is going on.  We need to be encouraged to know that those things aren't the end of the story.

If we want to get there to that place of creativity and miracles, we have to first be here, in this place of changes and chaos and transition. Because that's how we get to that place of God.  We all have a Mary story. It may involve pregnancy or it may not, but God has called each of us to something, and we can set out to get there and as we strive to get there we need to expect a bit of chaos.

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