Thursday, January 17, 2013

Hold These Things in Your Heart

"But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart." Luke 2: 19

I have told very few people in real life that I am pregnant. I haven't told my boss. I haven't told my dearest friends, except for one. I haven't told my bible study group, even though I could use their prayers. I haven't told Father G.

I have felt the strong inclination to hold this baby in my heart, at least for a while longer. However, I'm having trouble understanding my own feelings about this.

"And when you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door, and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you." Mathew 6: 5-6

I have always had an extremely adverse reaction to postings on of people's ultrasound pictures and pregnancy announcements. Even before miscarriage. Even before I ever fathomed that I could have trouble conceiving and carrying a child to term.

I always told myself that it was because those pictures would never go away--they would now be owned by the internet, or because the child in question didn't have the choice to put those pictures out there, or because it was tacky.

But now I realize, it wasn't because of those things, really. It was because of the connected themes in the two passages above.

Our culture is so confused; it treats children like accomplishments--commodified accomplishments. (It treats marriage this way too). Married? check. House? check. Kids (ahem, one boy and one girl only)? check. Ok. life is all checked off; good for me! Look what I've accomplished!

I'm not saying that it is not ok to be proud of your children and that one ought not share them with the world. Especially as little witnesses of the gift and blessing of them. And yes, I do post pictures of little A on faceb.ook. I don't say these things because I think I am perfect. Or because I forbid posting pictures online. There will be a time that I proclaim loudly the joy of this new baby. But I am sure you have felt the sticky self-involvement that goes with some pregnancy announcements. And the lack of "praise God!" in them. I say these things as a defense really, an explanation as to why I do not yet shout this good news from the roof tops.

The thing is, children--if they are accomplishments at all--are not our accomplishments. We co-create them with God, we love them into existence, but not on our own. And we know (many of us all too painfully) that if God didn't breathe His love into him or her, no amount of human love would create a child.

All this is to say that just because I haven't told anyone about this baby doesn't mean I am not excited about him or her. Of course, part of me will always be afraid this baby will die. But I do not keep the news secret for fear that I would have to explain another miscarriage to those who know. On the contrary, I would want people to know I was pregnant if this baby doesn't survive. I want him or her to be recognized as a person.

Rather, I hold this baby in my heart, for now, as a means of protection, and as a means of prayer. It's just that I think the things we hold most dearly (the awe of shepherds at the sight of the infant Jesus, the intimate relationship and faith we have in God, my little tiny baby--so fragile) ought not be projected as an extension of our own selves, but as that which God created. Perhaps they ought not be flaunted in public, but celebrated quietly and piously in the home.

"For you formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother's womb.
I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are your works,
And my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in your book were all written
The days that You ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them."  Psalm 139: 13-16

There were times when Mary might have proclaimed loudly and publicly that her son was the Messiah, that she had bore Him and raised Him, that she was having a baby (!). And indeed, she joyfully proclaimed her pregnancy to Elizabeth, one who would understand the sacredness of such a revelation. She proclaimed God's Magnificence (the Magnificat) and then, when he was born and when he was found in the temple, she "treasured all these things, and pondered them in her heart."


Lord, you have designed this pregnancy in such a way that I could not take it for granted. You have made it so that I recognize Your hand in this; Glory be to You. Please protect my baby from the hands of death, that he or she may glorify Your Name on earth.

Mary, mother of God, and my mother, pray for me, that this pregnancy, this child, and all my children will glorify the Lord.


The following are some posts which I found helpful in formulating my thoughts for today, and I think they are worth sharing:
Wait, Do You Only Have Two Kids? by Lisa Cotter, and
Where's da Proof? by Ecce Fiat


  1. Thank you for your reflections! I guess it's a really fine line, maybe, between humbly sharing your joy about something genuinely good that you've received (say, a pregnancy) and making it *your* accomplishment - look how great my life is, everyone! Look how blessed I am! It reminds me of an article I read on the Christianity Today blog for women, about the "humble brag." Maybe you'd enjoy reading it:

    Personally, I left a few months ago because I couldn't take all the pregnancy/baby announcements. Maybe that's just me. But I do wonder whether etc. is making our culture forget the sense of sacredness, interiorness, and (correctly understood) privacy that you talk about so beautifully here. Anyway, food for thought! =)

  2. Ecce Fiat, thank you for sharing that article. I think the author articulates nicely the necessary balance and the need to check our motives. I agree with you that this area involves a fine line. And I suppose it is not up to us to judge whether people have holy motives when they post things; it's not as if we're always perfect either. I suppose this is why I'm having a difficult time understanding my own ideas about this--I'm trying to balance on that fine line.

    In the mean time, I hope my readers understand that my motives on this blog are to be as genuine as possible in all my writing, including and especially the prayers that often come at the end of my posts.

  3. I agree that we share way toooo much info. on facebook, and this is coming from a girl whose blog is not anonymous! I have blocked certain people's statuses who gush over their children constantly because it hurts too much. I think you are wise to wait to share the news so you and your DH can have a beautiful secret together that you co-created together with God. I am so excited for you and thank you for sharing your secret with us on your blog! I always love Mary's humility in radiating Christ, what joy must she have felt as her and Joseph knew who Jesus was.


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