What Would the Midwives Do?


My husband and I were in a conversation recently about something we are struggling with. As we were walking and talking, reflecting and observing, I suddenly said to him “What would the midwives do?”

We both laughed. I was referring to the show Call the Midwife where real life happens and grace abounds. Where values and beliefs are solid but love trumps all.

It’s really the truth and grace dilemma. The argument that goes on in my mind when I’m faced with that which I can’t agree with, that which I believe to be wrong. One part of me shouts “But it’s wrong. I can’t condone it! I hate this!” The other responds, quietly but insistently “But what about grace? What about love? How should you respond now that it’s a reality?”

In almost every episode of Call the Midwife real life happens. And life in the East End of London in the 1950s is not pretty. There is poverty, squalor, death, conflict, abuse, abortions, incest, domestic violence – all of life in its broken horror. But every show a baby is delivered – “God’s opinion that the world must go on.”* And with that baby comes hope and new life, new chances.

At the end of the day these midwives do all they can to preserve life, to preserve the dignity of human beings, to protect, to build relationships. Truth is never compromised but Grace is always given. That is their mission in this tiny slice of life in the East End. I have friends who are midwives and I was fortunate to have a midwife at the birth of my first child. Whether in Haiti or Pakistan, the Appalachian mountains or Chicago this is how I see them live, how I see them work. They do all they can to preserve life, to preserve the dignity of human beings, made in the image of God, to preserve relationships.

So when I posed the question “What would the midwives do?” to my husband that is what I was asking. What is Truth and Grace in this situation? What preserves life, dignity, and relationships?

It’s “what would Jesus do” with a midwife twist. 

*Quote from Carl Sandburg

Picture Credit: http://pixabay.com/en/baby-hands-with-mom-mom-and-baby-251273/

12 thoughts on “What Would the Midwives Do?

  1. These words were said to me about a situation similar to the one you are referencing, it helped me so much …

    “I don’t want to communicate that I don’t care if they _______ (fill in the blank with whatever) , but I’m not opposed to the idea that God can be working grace in the midst of their circumstance while they move towards something healthy. “


    1. This. That’s it exactly. When I think back my parents did this well….and I didn’t even know it. I just found out that when I got in huge trouble at school for using drugs at a Missionary boarding school they never talked with any of their colleagues about it. They were good friends with the school principal and he is the one who told them but they said they didn’t want this to be the subject of gossip in a small mission community – so grateful for that. So important for me to remember. Thanks Tara.


  2. Bless you Marilyn. I think I will tuck this away and start using it as a centering questions to listen for the Voice who can answer me. It most likely will not be long before I can utilize this new gift you have given me. Bless you…


    1. Angie – I am so excited to follow your journey into this vocation! You are already one who listens well to the Voice – so I have every expectation that this will just get louder in your ears. So much love to you.


  3. I love this show as well as the model of care that Midwifes represent. We delivered all of our children through midwives and have always felt that their model of care should be transferred to other areas of medicine. Truly, they believe not only in informed consent, but in loving and real responses that are not always safe.


  4. Marilyn, you could start a new trend…get people wearing WWMD bracelets. :-) Joking aside, I love this question. The midwives are so good at gracefully meeting people where they’re at…doing the work of life, dignity, and relationship preservation. So often I go into a situation with self preservation in mind…ready to impose/defend my own beliefs, opinions, ways of doing things…sacrificing relationship and bridge-building. It is not our job to judge and convict others…only the Lord can do that. He simply asks us to LOVE others. Thanks for this reminder today.


    1. So funny you said that! I almost wanted to do that! Wondered if it would be sacrilegious but the WWJD almost feels more sacrilegious! And about self-preservation – I so get this. For so many years I felt like if I did not defend God then where would he be??? What would he do? And yet it is he who does the convicting and the changing. Our job is to be faithful. Sometimes that means lovingly defending, most of the time it means listening and loving. Thanks so much Mandy. Thinking of you and your busy schedule these days.


  5. Ahhhhhhhhh! Love the midwives! Sister Julienne is my favorite! In real life I think I would be awkward Chummy but my hero is Sister Julienne. I love how they deal with everything that comes their way. So glad we share a love of Call the Midwife :)


  6. Ouch! I don’t think the words Midwife and Twist should ever be used in the same sentence! Ouch!
    Work hard to preserve grace, to speak truth gently, to encourage endurance and hope—that’s what the midwives would do! I loved this piece.


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