Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Beauty and the Third Trimester

Yesterday, I got to school and someone told me that I looked adorable. This a super-kind thing to say to a 30-week pregnant lady, so I smiled and thanked her, and then told the truth- "You should have seen me when I woke up this morning." Her response was also filled with candor- "We've all been there."

Yep, at 30 weeks when you wake up in the morning and your feet and back still hurt despite the nine plus hours you've been lying down and you look yourself in the mirror and realize that your face is somehow just a little puffier than it was yesterday, "adorable" is hardly the first adjective that you would ascribe to yourself.

A couple of friends and I joke that it is really difficult for a worn-out teacher at the end of the school year to be motivated to both get up and get dressed in the morning. The days of picking out your outfit and feeling prepared and ready for the day ended in September for most of us. By the end of April, putting on a pair of pants and dragging a comb through our hair before facing students in the throes of spring fever is about all we have to give. This meme pretty much sums things up. Just imagine a pregnant belly and some elastic-waisted maternity pants and it's basically me.

In all seriousness, though, I woke up this morning thinking about beauty. And how, despite the third trimester and the end of the school year, there is something profoundly beautiful going on that I can't help but write about.

Before that conversation yesterday about whether or not I was "adorable" I was at a low point. I was feeling extremely exhausted, behind in my work, overwhelmed with the day ahead. I'd had trouble sleeping (everyone tells you that you better sleep before the baby comes... but I've struggled with sleep throughout these seven months) and I didn't know how I would persevere through the day. Despite Andy's kindness in helping me get out the door, snuggles from Gatsby and long drags on my coffee, I was still dubious that I would make it through the day without snapping at some poor kid or collapsing, whichever came first.

But neither came, and here's why. As I walked on campus yesterday, I remembered something that we've been learning through a sermon series that we're listening to as a staff. The gist of the messages is about the new covenant that Jesus established, a covenant based, not on the old rules and paradigms of the temple model that God gave the Jewish people before Jesus' life on Earth, but a totally, brand-new thing, built on one cornerstone- faith expressing itself through love. "Okay," I said to Him, "you said through Paul that the only thing that matters is faith expressing itself through love. But if I'm going to love today, then you're going to have to take care of me. Because I do not feel like I can love. " I pretty much felt like I could pass out, but feeling like loving was nowhere in me.

But that simple prayer did something in my heart yesterday that really was beautiful. All of a sudden, I found myself smiling at people. Genuinely smiling. Not the fake smile thing that creeps people out or is a bad attempt at masking pain. This was the real deal. Like, I actually felt like smiling. Following the smiles came some laughter as I joked with another teacher friend. Then patience as students began to come into my classroom. And that was my day yesterday. Smile, laugh, have patience. No collapsing, no crying. He took care of His end of that prayer. He took care of me and my emotions, as I trusted in Him and loved out of the empty.

And isn't that beautiful? When I woke this morning and thought about God's faithfulness to me yesterday, I was reminded of a song that our student worship team sang on Monday morning in chapel. One of the singer's voices still rings in my ear with a sweetness and clarity that moves my heart even two days later- "You make beautiful things. You make beautiful things out of the dust. You make beautiful things. You make beautiful things out of us." 

I don't think that pregnancy is beautiful. It's uncomfortable in that way that it stretches the patience and the body. I don't think that our life circumstances right now are beautiful. But, I look around me, and I look in the Bible at what God has said about Himself, and I think "Wow. I am surrounded by beauty." Here are some of the things that I see- green, the color of spring. A teenager's smile (by the way, why don't we smile in pictures anymore? I see selfies all the time with this half-turned fish-face thing, when, really, is there anything more beautiful than a smile?) Cotton-candy clouds in a Texas sunset. Story's foot drag across my stomach from the inside. Andy's hands, diligently working on what God gives him each day while he waits for God's provision of a new job. A promise from thousands of years ago, originally written on ancient scrolls and on worry-sick hearts- "I will go with you. I will not forsake you." This is all really beautiful to me.

It's still hard to get up in the morning. I still feel empty and worn out. But there is a beautiful thing going on inside of me. And it's not just Story, though she's a part of it. It comes from Beauty Himself, working out His ways inside me, making a beautiful thing out of the dust.

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