As I sat down across from the counselor, I felt a bit sheepish saying what I had to say. “I don’t really have a good reason for feeling this way,” I said.
She stopped me there. “Maybe you do.”
I’m a deeply introspective person, so I really like to get to the bottom of why I’m feeling the way I do. (I’m one of those weird people who genuinely enjoys having a therapist dig deeper into my emotions with me and getting to the core of why I experience certain feelings. Yeah, I’m real fun at parties.) So that prompt stopped me in my tracks. I thought back to other times I’ve been in this situation, and allowed those feelings to wash over me. I cringed.
You see, I’m pregnant with my third child. And after at least a year of adamantly telling the world that we are done having kids, I had to switch to joking that this is our last “oops.” I found myself vacillating between telling friends to quit being so excited for me, to telling them that everything’s fine, it’s all fine, I’m cool with it now. But none of that quite expressed how I really feel about this pregnancy—and truthfully, how I’ve felt about my others as well.
That day with the counselor, I realized the problem. It’s not that I don’t want to have another child. It’s not even really the other superficial reasons I’ve expressed about being pregnant again—we’ll have to start all over with diapers; we’ll have to, gasp, get a minivan; I’ll have to get my body back again. The truth is that deep down, I have some very strong emotions associated with being pregnant—particularly with becoming pregnant unexpectedly. Those feelings range from fear, to anxiety, to just feeling like I’m totally out of control, on the sidelines of my own life. Even though there’s no obvious reason for me to feel any of that this time around, when I looked inward, there those feelings were. Apparently they’ve got some deep roots.
I’m Still Her
Coming to terms with this truth was hard. It was hard because I’ve come so far since I was a scared 17-year-old who’d just learned her whole life had turned upside down. I’m not that scared 17-year-old anymore. But at the same time, at my core, I still am her. I still fear not having control. I still cringe at things happening to me that seem “unfair” or otherwise outside my life plan. It’s hard to admit, but I still feel a shameful resentment toward God when things don’t go precisely the way I want them to.
As I was thinking about this the other day, I thought about Mary, the mother of Jesus. I thought about the way she responded to news of her unexpected pregnancy. Despite the danger to her life and all the other unknowns involved, her response was praise. Her reaction was joy. She truly believed that God knew best, and she accepted the unexpected with grace and strength.
I don’t expect I’ll ever be quite as on-board with unexpected changes in my life as Mary. That’s not really my nature. But I do hope that, with awareness of my own fears, and a lot of faith, I can come to a place where I don’t crack every time the unexpected comes my way. I know that with every changing season, God is stretching me beyond where I’m comfortable, and whispering again and again, Trust me. Sometimes I miss it, because I’m far too often vocalizing my displeasure to hear Him speaking. But I’m learning to grow quiet. I’m learning to let Him reassure me. I’m learning to hand over those ugly feelings that, for too long, I’ve attached to the beautiful gift of bringing forth life. He can handle them. And I can trust.
I share this because I know that for each of us, there are things that can trigger negative, scary emotions from the past. And sometimes those things can be good things. For me, it’s one of the best things—bringing new life into the world. And it’s hard to say that out loud. It’s hard to admit, and it’s hard to not feel like you’re being a jerk about something that other people think you should be jumping up and down about.
The reality is, only you know the intricacies of your story. Your experience is valid, and you don’t have to act like everything is sunshine and rainbows when it’s not. Seek help when you need it. Confide in people you can trust. Or, you know, tell the whole internet because you have a compulsive need to get all the feels out in writing.
Most importantly, confide in the Creator. He understands the range of human emotions and the depths of heartache like no one else. He can handle your heart. And you can trust.