A Labor of the Heart

Part 1
Labor. What do you think of when you hear this word? If you are like me, my mind immediately conjures up images of a Hospital Delivery Room. A woman straining to bring new life into the world. A husband coaching, cheering, encouraging and hopefully not passing out! But for me, labor has another meaning. One definition states that it is “to suffer from distress or a disadvantage.” Still another says that it is “to strive painstakingly or to proceed with great effort.” Now those are definitions I can relate to!

Ours may not have been a physical labor,

but it was still a labor of the heart.

When it all began we were footloose and fancy free! That is what being a newlywed is all about right? We were deeply in love, had great jobs, disposable income (those were the days!), and had just bought our first home. A town-home that had previously been a rental and we lovingly began to bring back to life. What more could you ask for right? And yet, it was always there. That nagging feeling that we could never quite shake. We never totally felt that unabashed hope for the future that newlyweds should feel. A future that seems uncomplicated and perfect with all of the pieces of the puzzle falling into place. Travel, buy a real house, white picket fence and all, and have a baby...right? Isn't that the way it is supposed to go? "First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby in the baby carriage." Sweet, simplistic and uncomplicated. And totally unrealistic! Where did this little poem come from anyway? And, why do we grow up thinking that our lives are going to be just that easy?


Part 2

The other night I dreamed I was pregnant. I woke up in that state of mind where you are not quite sure if you are still in dreamland or if it is reality. The tears stung my eyes and I was surprised. Surprised that the hurt could still be there after all these years. And yet, I quickly remembered another night, many years ago, when I found myself crying in my sleep. How is it possible to be in so much pain that you are crying when you aren’t even awake? That night, though, was the night I had my “Experience” with God. I’m going to save the details for another time. But, let me say that this was a life-changing, faith-changing moment and one that I cling to whenever I have doubts or whenever that pain winds its way around my heart once more.

They had told us, “It will be very unlikely that you will be able to get pregnant.” But doesn’t unlikely leave room for maybe! “You will probably never have biological children but who knows what kind of advances in medicine will be around by the time you actually want them!” So, when you say probably, that means that there is still a chance, right? What no one ever realized is that those nuances of conversation would cause us to never fully grasp the reality of the situation. And besides, how can you know the deep pain of wanting something that you will never have, until you actually begin to long for it? Babies weren’t on the agenda anyway! We were going to travel and eat out and just enjoy being a couple. Newlyweds aren’t supposed to be worried about things like Infertility! They don’t really cover that in pre-marital counseling.

A Labor of the Heart- Christmas Edition

“Two roads diverged in a wood and I-
I took the one less traveled by…” Robert Frost

The road less traveled…how often is that the direction we choose for our lives? I like the well-beaten path, the predictable trail with clear markings and maybe a Starbucks along the way. One is dark and frightening, winding its way along with overgrown trees blocking the final destination from our view. The other is brightly lit and wide enough for many to walk down it together. There are no stones and branches to step over, only perfectly paved roads with huge neon signs in the distance, pointing us to our goal. Mary’s path was certainly one that was less traveled and I have often wondered what really went through her mind when the angel Gabriel appeared to her declaring, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.” (Luke 1:30-32) “How will this be?” (vs. 34) she asked. What do you mean? Why are the plans for my life being so drastically altered? Now I will be different from the rest, set apart, and my path will be one I go down alone.

My own road to motherhood was certainly unlike what I had imagined. But, when they placed our sweet new baby boy in our arms, we realized how much the adoption of this child was a representation on this earth of God’s love and sacrifice for us. The grief, loss and sacrifice of one, providing joy, peace and fulfillment for another. Who would have thought that our pain-filled, doubt-filled and dimly lit road would lead us to a destination quite as amazing as this! John 1:4 says “In Him was life, and that life is the light of men.” Do you trust God to light the way down the darkened path before you? The darkness does not understand the light (John 1:5) that shines through it. It wants us to stay scared and to stay put! It doesn’t want us to move forward trusting that the Light we follow will lead us to an eternal and everlasting hope.

As frightened and confused and overwhelmed as Mary must have been, she chose to take the road less traveled. Not because she knew that there would be a happy and neatly packaged ending, but because she was an obedient follower of the Lord and she trusted Him to be faithful in His promise “to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us.” (Eph 3:20) Her obedience to God brought our Savior to this earth, in the form of an infant, to live among us, be led to His death on the cross and rise again! “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Hebrews 12:2-3)

Will you run with perseverance down that road less traveled? He has paved the way with His shed blood for you and will be the light to guide you when you fear you are growing weary and losing heart.

“Two roads diverged in a wood and I-
I took the one less traveled by
And that has made all the difference.”