“I thought faith would say ‘I’ll take away the pain and discomfort’. But what it ended up saying was ‘I’ll sit with you in it.'” Brené Brown in Jesus Wept
My first baby was born with a midwife by my side. I had labored all night and the baby was posterior. My labor had to reposition the baby in order to give birth — and it hurt. The contractions became harder and more difficult. They were in ‘couplets’ – I would have a strong and long contraction and then almost immediately a short, not as difficult contraction. It is an inefficient way to labor.
And it hurt.
But my midwife and my husband were there by my side — all the way through 12 plus hours of intensive labor. I didn’t have an epidural. I didn’t have any medication. I had something that was ultimately better– a midwife sitting beside me coaching me to the finish line. And that finish line was the birth of a baby. A midwife helping me to breathe through the pain and come out on the other side; a midwife who told me when to push, when to stop pushing; a husband who held my hand, watching the monitor that showed the strength of the contractions.
They call it labor for a reason. I had never worked so hard in my life – nor been rewarded so well.
But it hurt.
So when I recently heard Brené Brown talk about faith – how it’s like a midwife – I knew she was on to something.
“I wanted faith to work like an epidural; to numb the pain of vulnerability. As it turned out, my faith ended up being more like a midwife – a nurturing partner who leans into the discomfort with me and whispers “push” and “breathe….Faith didn’t make my life less vulnerable or comfortable, it simply offered to travel with me through the uncertainty.” ~ Brené Brown
Because that’s what faith has been like for me. It sits with me through the hard, encourages me to push harder, reminds me that the reward is so much bigger, so much greater than the difficulty of the now. Sometimes this journey of life is a complete joy, full of sun and peace. Other times it’s a grey fog of doubt or a sea of fear, still more times it’s a step in the dark.
And I want it to be easy – oh how I want it to be easy. I want it to be easy for me and I want it to be easy for those I love.
I don’t want the struggles and the doubts. I don’t want the painful self-reflection and the recognition of wrong. I don’t want the work of faith. I want an epidural. Me. who birthed 5 children with no pain medication, no epidurals. When it comes to my journey of faith – just give me the epidural, let me numb the pain, let me have it easy.
Because it hurts.
But I know this – no where was I ever promised a life free of discomfort and distress. At no time was I told it would be easy. Never was I given a false expectation that life would be absent of pain. That is true for child-birth, that is true for faith.
Through labor I learned what it’s like to put forth intense effort and think you can’t go on, only to be encouraged that you can and you will continue to do what you have to do until that baby is born. Through labor I learned what it was to have a trained midwife by my side who knew what was going on, who knew when I was supposed to push and when I was supposed to breathe. Through life I learn the same thing; that I will continue to do what I have to do, faith by my side encouraging me on, through words of truth, through the people of God, through the Church.
What about you? How has faith been like a midwife to you? Or maybe it hasn’t – maybe instead faith has been like a doctor that pushes their own agenda and doesn’t let you breathe. I would love for you to join the conversation in the comments.