Before having my first child, I read everything I could on labor and the birthing process. I practiced my breathing techniques. I had a music playlist to keep me focused and an oil diffuser to keep me calm. I was ready. Or so I thought.
One of the key things I read was to embrace the pain of each contraction. Think of it as a good pain, they said, because unlike pain associated with muscle injuries, this is different. Every painful muscle contraction has a purpose…to move the baby lower and lower until it’s time for you to push.
Well, let’s just say theory is ALWAYS easier than practice in my humble, child-bearing opinion. With each painful contraction, my natural instinct was to clench every muscle, grit my teeth and hold my breath. The idea of “relaxing” during a contraction and not tensing up is the polar opposite of what you want to do. Labor and pushing through the pain is literally a battle in your mind. You have to will yourself to relax. When you relax, things can then progress more easily and quickly—relatively speaking.
A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come;
but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish
because of her joy that a child is born into the world. – John 16:21
Spiritually speaking, I believe the same rules apply. When the painful circumstances of life hit you, when you’re pushed out of your comfort zone into the unknown…it’s always BEST to breathe, relax and trust God. It’s not what we naturally want to do. We have to will ourselves to do it. If we fight against it—through our complaining, our worrying, our negative thinking—it will take much longer to push through to the other side. But if we embrace it with a spirit of peace, trust and forward thinking, the journey will be much more productive.
Oh, it’ll still be painful. But it’s pain with a purpose. And our joy is just on the other side.