Darling don’t be afraid…

The day you have your baby is a day you will never ever forget.  For me, every detail is a sweet, sweet memory that I will always cherish.  It is such a day mixed with so many emotions.  Everything ranging from excitement, joy, anticipation to downright fear.  Before having the baby I really was met with so much fear.  I had no idea what the pain was going to be like, but I knew that I wanted to try my best to have a natural, unmedicated birthing process.  Things turned out a bit differently than I expected (read our story here), but nonetheless, the 10 hours of pushing and breathing were the craziest of my life.

Why am I talking about the birth of my son nearly 14 months later?  Because of those sweet memories.

One beautiful memory that I have will always be recalled by a song (a song I just heard again a minute ago). I was in the midst of labor pains, getting close to the hardest parts of the day, and nothing was really helping.  The television was driving me nuts (turn it off, please), my husband’s loving touch on my leg no longer was effective (nobody touch me), the rocking chair that I had grown so attached to in the previous hours was no longer soothing (seat of nails).  I asked my husband to put on music that had no words, nothing but strings–thinking maybe that would help. He put on the “Vitamin String Quartet” channel on Pandora, and the first few songs slipped through my ears in a fuzz.  I don’t remember any of them.

It wasn’t until I heard a song that I had heard many times before.  This song had never meant anything to me in the past.  The words had never really resonated with me until then, where so many different emotions were coming to head in the most painful moment of my life.  There were no words in the string version of the song, but they somehow came to my mind clearly:

Heart beats fast
Colors and promises
How to be brave
How can I love when I’m afraid to fall
But watching you stand alone
All of my doubt, suddenly goes away somehow

One step closer

I have died everyday, waiting for you
Darling, don’t be afraid, I have loved you for a thousand years
I’ll love you for a thousand more

Time stands still
Beauty in all [he] is
I will be brave
I will not let anything, take away
What’s standing in front of me
Every breath, every hour has come to this

One step closer

I have died everyday, waiting for you
Darling, don’t be afraid, I have loved you for a thousand years
I’ll love you for a thousand more

And all along I believed, I would find you
Time has brought your heart to me, I have loved you for a thousand years
I’ll love you for a thousand more

One step closer
One step closer

I have died everyday, waiting for you
Darling, don’t be afraid, I have loved you for a thousand years
I’ll love you for a thousand more

And all along I believed, I would find you
Time has brought your heart to me, I have loved you for a thousand years
I’ll love you for a thousand more

This song has been played in many movies and countless times on the radio, but it wasn’t until that moment that the words truly resonated with me and were borne forth in my mind as something so totally meaningful and helpful. There, in the midst of all the pain of labor, in my troubled thoughts that were telling me that I could not go on were the words that I needed to hear.  The words that God continuously whispers in our hearts when we face darkness and pain:

Darling don’t be afraid, I have loved you. I will always love you.  One step closer…

Then I could associate all the pain with what was to come.  It eased my mind and gave me something to focus on.  I could put my mind to the fact that what was happening was going to bring something so incredibly amazing, that I was able to relish that moment.  In that moment I could move past my fear and see my son.  I was able to recall the love I already had for him and use that as my focal point to push on.  Every painful breath I took, every ache in my body, was one step closer to meeting our son.

Every time I hear this song will be a beautiful reminder of that moment—that moment when I was able to see the glory in the pain.

I think God gave me that song to help me.  He was speaking to my heart saying, “Just wait!  Just hang in there and be strong and your world is forever going to change for the better!  Life as you know it will never be the same, because I am about to open up your world to a love that you have never known before!”  I was able to cling to those words, and they helped me through some of the toughest parts of my labor.  I was reminded what I had been anticipating for 9 months, and what I had been longing for as a woman.  It was a reminder to me that I could be brave, because there was something so special at the end of all that pain.  My son was about to come, and if I could brave through the pain and breath, that incredible gift would be mine.  I am so thankful for that song, and will always be transported back to that beautiful time when I hear it.

This is the grandiose message I think that God wants all of us to hear in all moments of suffering in our lives. He wants us to hear those words that Saint John Paul II voiced countless times in his speeches: “Be not afraid!” Be not afraid of the pain that is to come.  Be not afraid of all the darkness that you might be facing right here in this moment.  Every painful and heavy step that you take in life is one step closer.   One step closer to true and lasting union with God.

Saint John Paul even takes it a step further, and reminds us that our pain and suffering can be a great tool in our spiritual lives, and in the lives of others.  He says: “You can do very much by your prayer and your sacrifice…It is this suffering which burns and consumes evil with the flame of love and draws forth even from sin a great flowering of good.  All human suffering, all pain, all infirmity contains within itself a promise of salvation, a promise of joy: “ I am now rejoicing in my suffering for your sake,’ writes Saint Paul.”  Just as in that moment I was able to push through mentally through the pain for my son, so too can we all use our suffering for the benefit of others in our lives.  We can be a witness and a beacon that reminds people that even in the darkest of times we will be joyful because we are a people of hope.  “I have died everyday waiting for you.”  This line reminded me in the moment that I could die to that pain, endure it, and move forward to meet my son.  It is a reminder to me now that, as a mother I have to die to myself many, many times in order to serve my son’s needs.  It is a reminder to me daily that clinging to the cross and dying to any of my selfish needs and wants that pull me into darkness, is a gift that draws me nearer to our Lord’s passion.

Even if I were to have completely numbed the pain of labor, I would still experience the reality of suffering as a mother.  I would still face the fears of my son being harmed, the pain when my son falls or experiences his own suffering, and the cry in my heart when my son is scared.  I would have to face sufferings of some kind as a mother, but all of those sufferings are so worth the love that my husband and I share in our little boy.  I love remembering that song, that day, and that moment, because it is such a reminder of the bigger picture in life–the beauty that is to come.  Though this life at times is painful and hard to bear, God is there.  Just as we suffer in labor for the sake of our children, Jesus suffered and died on the cross for the sake of his.  He died for us.  He waits for us.  He loves us.  He wants us to know this reality and remember this in our times of trial, and remember that redemption awaits all of his sons and daughters.  If you are suffering, hang in there.  Think of those words, and remember that God has loved you always, and will continue to love you for all eternity.  Remember that this suffering you are enduring, even if it seems so, will not last forever.  Don’t let anything take you away from that truth.  God is standing in front of you, and every breath, every hour in your life is one step closer to your eternity with him.

Lauren

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