When I was pregnant with Ethan, someone lent me a copy of the book "Great with Child" by Debra Rienstra. It is a wonderfully written book that chronicles the author's journey of pregnancy with their third child. I decided to read through it during this pregnancy as well. When I was about three months along, I was especially struck by her chapter titled "Weakness". I had been worn out with constant naseau and certainly felt weak! But I also had some trepidation and perhaps a sense of what was to come. It was the Christmas season and I felt that what she wrote was something worth pondering.
She described an icon of Mary that depicts the Annunciation, when the angel Gabriel has just arrived to explain to her God's plan, that she will carry the Savior of the World. Mary is not in the usual obedient, humble position we expect. Instead, one arm is leaning back as if to brace herself and the other (nearest the angel) held up in a gesture of surprise? or Greeting? ...or hesitation?
Rienstra writes, "Mary's raised hand...seems to me a profound symbol of all the fears and confusions that come with a momentous, God directed change....this does not diminish Mary's ultimate surrender to God's will for her. In fact it makes her obedience more human, and therefore more plausible a model for us...Mary at this point could only have a vague premonition of what the cost for her might be... The literal bearing and raising of a child is indeed a calling, and [these carry] the shadow of a cost. I think this is why the first several weeks of pregnancy typically feature an assortment of discomforts: we need reminding, and this is especially true in our self-indulgent culture, that if we foolishly imagine for a minute that parenthood is an accomplishment or acheivement or right, sooner or later something will smack us with the realization that it is, above all, a surrender."
When we first received the news about Rachel, I too felt like I was using one hand to brace myself and the other "raised as a shield against a divine strength". All parents know that at some point in time, we will be disappointed by events (out of our control) that alter our dreams and hopes for our family. All of us Christian parents, at one time or other, need to face the question, "Do I trust God with the future of my family?" It is a very hard question to answer. And it is a decision we need to make again and again each day. Mary, in her finite understanding, chose to trust when she could not see the Big Picture of God's plan. Will we? Because if what God promises us is true, there is coming a day when all will be made Right and what we see dimly now, we will see clearly then. I want so much to see That Day...so (with trepidation), I choose to say Yes. God, give me the strength to keep saying 'yes'.