I met our children long before I got pregnant. It’s not the norm for many, I admit, but I’ve been practicing listening prayer for a long time now and sometimes that means meeting Jesus at a river or walking through a field with him, other times that means him asking me if I’d like to meet my children while we sit on a bench.
I said no, for the record.
When he first asked I was far from ready to consider who my children might be or to even think that God might be ready for me and my husband to welcome the kids he’d set aside for us.
Jesus had to ask me two more times, over a period of roughly a year, before I agreed to meet my children with him. This was after a conversation with my husband, Owen, where we discussed why we weren’t trying to get pregnant yet. Our reasons included, but weren’t limited to:
- We don’t have any savings or surplus income right now
- We’re in the middle of buying an enormous farmhouse that needs a huge amount of work
- We’ll be responsible for the enormous mortgage on said enormous farmhouse
- Owen has a new job to start and settle into
- I will have to commute from Monmouthshire to London for my job
- Our headspace won’t be able to stretch to moving from London to Wales, renovating a house, a new job, building a new community and saying goodbye to our friends and church etc
- We’re not sure we ready to give up our regular long-haul travel just yet
Then, just as the conversation was wrapping up Owen said: “But, they’re all fear based aren’t they? And we don’t make decisions based on fear, do we?”
He’s right. We don’t, or at least, we try really hard not too. Because to be afraid of anything more than God goes against who I believe God is. Even more so, it actually makes our faith smaller and most importantly it makes the part God plays in our lives smaller.
“We don’t make decisions based on fear, do we?”
So, we reframed the conversation. Do we think God wants us to try for a baby now? We asked. The answer? Yes, we did.
In my mind the timing couldn’t be worse but isn’t it funny how God’s time often doesn’t feel like the “right” time to us?
The next morning I said yes to Jesus when he asked if I’d like to meet my children and in my prayer encounter he passed a baby into my arms.
By the next week I was pregnant.
Since finding out I was pregnant God has said the same thing to me, over and over again: he’s asked me to have a fearless pregnancy. What does that mean? Well, for me, at 35 weeks pregnant, it’s meant trying to take every worry and fearful thought captive and replacing it with a promise of God.
It’s meant declining every additional screening and test the midwives have offered me.
It meant telling people I was pregnant before I reached 12 weeks.
It’s meant drinking some wine.
It’s meant eating the same meats, cheeses and fish I normally would.
It’s meant planning a home birth.
It’s meant only talking about the pregnancy, the birth and our baby to come with confidence and hope.
It’s meant that for the last 35 weeks I have engaged in the toughest battle for my thought life possible. Why? Because as soon as you see that positive line on a pregnancy test you are assaulted with fear-based thinking, people overstepping with well-intentioned, but anxiety-inducing advice and the challenge of staying peaceful and trusting as your body changes quickly and furiously.
“Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?”Matthew 6 v 25
I believe the enemy loves that pregnancy, for so many women, has become a season of restlessness, fear and worry and I believe God wants to put an end to that.
It wasn’t long after finding out I was pregnant that we found out my Dad had blood cancer and the task of remaining fearless suddenly seemed impossible. How do you walk out a pregnancy with peace and hope as your own parent fights for their life? I asked God again and again, he simply smiled.
A couple of months ago a good friend’s little girl said to them, out of the blue in the car, that she thought our baby should be called ‘Rindi’. We’re not going to use the name, but when we looked it up we discovered that it means “walks without fear”. It served as a timely reminder from God of what he was calling us and our baby to.
If I manage to have a fearless pregnancy, I realised, just imagine the heritage that will create for our first born. I was starting to understand why God was asking me to do the impossible, why God was asking me to live fearlessly in the midst of so much to be afraid of – I would need to be a faithful and fearless mother to be this baby’s mother.
In the next few weeks we’ll find out whether my dad will be scheduled for a stem cell transfusion, involving an extended isolated hospital stay, directly over my due date. It’s yet another thing that threatens to take me out of peace into fear. It would manage, if I wasn’t 35 weeks into exercising my now bulging fearless muscle.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”John 14 v 27
While God has done deep work in me through this pregnancy, he won’t set the same challenge before all other women because he works in so many ways. So, while my journey into fearlessness has been through pregnancy, yours might be something quite different.
God won’t be calling us all to reject screenings and ignore disapproving looks while sipping wine at 8 months pregnant. But he is, I believe, calling all of us into a life of peace not worry and into a life where no matter the fear, God is always bigger.
Kris Valloten does a simple exercise where he asks you to write down, in a list, everything you would do tomorrow if you weren’t afraid. Everything you would do if you didn’t worry about the mortgage, or the kids’ schools or your job or what people would think. What would be on that list?
After giving you a minute to write down a few things he then says: “Now, look at your list. If you’ve written anything down, even one thing, then your life has already been compromised by fear.”
A stirring thought. There’s so much to be afraid of, if I let myself…
- Being an isolated mum in the countryside.
- The fact we can’t afford to pay all the bills and also afford food etc once my maternity money runs out.
- Having a painful, dangerous birth.
- Loosing my identity as I become a mum.
- Never having time to be just me and Owen.
But instead I choose to focus on the promises of our good God. A God who works all things together for my good. A God who tells me to rejoice in every trial because it increases faithfulness. A God who can calm the storm and help me sleep through it. A God who tells me not to worry, a God who is the very person of peace. A God who tells me to store up my treasures in heaven. A God who has more thoughts for me and plans than I could ever count.
He is, I believe, calling all of us into a life of peace not worry and into a life where no matter the fear, God is always bigger.
It doesn’t have to take a pregnancy to journey into fearlessness. All it takes is you giving God permission. Permission to come into your life and shake stuff up a bit. The result? A life lived knowing the goodness of God outweighs any threat and any worry the world could throw at us.