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Pregnant Pause

9December2011

The Castle Church Door welcomes Pastor Patti Morlock of Reynoldsburg, Ohio. . .

Every year around this time, I tell myself I’m going to leave time to slow down and spend time really thinking about the stories behind THE Christmas story.  Every year, oh, somewhere around the New Year, I realize Christmas has come and gone, and that slowing down just didn’t happen as I would have liked.

Well, this year is definitely going to be different. No, it really is. Having limited mobility with a non-weight-bearing cast on my left foot might have a large role to play in this. As I am slightly incapacitated, I surrender to the moments of the story and jump in to find this pregnant woman, (this unmarried pregnant woman, by the way) whose whole life as she has known it is about to be changed forever. A child will do that to you.

See, in Mary’s day, the legitimacy of a child was crucial. More so than on any reality talk show today with paternity tests and daytime drama. Why do you think the women had a period of confinement to the home after they became pregnant? It was to make sure that any children they conceived were indeed their husband’s.  Children meant inheritance, they meant importance. So for Mary, this has the potential for horrible scandal. She could lose Joseph, her reputation, her financial stability, and in extreme cases, her life.

Mary isn’t the only one to ever experience mixed emotions at the news of a baby. If we’re honest, the news of a baby on the way is sometimes a mixed bag of feelings under any circumstance.

I’ve panicked at times when I found out I was pregnant, because aside from our first child, I miscarried every attempt to carry another to a successful birth. So for me, pregnancy was at the same time a hope and a fear. There were some pregnancies we told no one about because we didn’t want to deal with other people’s disappointment on top of our own crushing pain.

So, whenever someone tells me they’re pregnant, I pause, and become very still  – and wait, until they let me know how they are feeling about this news they have just delivered, and then I can respond accordingly. Many pregnancy stories have those initial moments which can be quite interesting to say the least.

But not for Mary. For Mary, this moment is the first surrender of many more to come.

She probably pictured a much different life for herself than the one that was unfolding before her eyes. Maybe she and Joseph would set up a nice house with his newly built furniture, travel to see family and friends for a bit, and then settle down and have some kids. Some regular, normal, non- Son of God, Holy-Spirit-conceived types you hear about on the news. Maybe she thought her child would be a carpenter like his father or a rabbi or something, instead of the king of a never-ending kingdom that goes beyond time and space.

Her response to this life she HAS been given  – well, she surrenders completely to it. “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me according to your word.” This will be the beginning of many such surrenders for her – she will have to let go of a lot during her lifetime. She will have to let go of this very child she now carries.

Being a parent is all about letting go. Letting go of their hand so they can take the first step. Letting them walk through the door into the classroom for the first time. Letting them get behind the wheel of a car – solo. Letting them go on a first date. Letting them go off to college and praying that you have taught them enough to thrive in the experience of it all. Letting them go down the aisle into the arms of another for a life of their own. To parent is to surrender, and Mary’s yes, her fiat is the bravest of all.

So as I surrender today to the circumstances of immobility, I start small, sitting here in my chair. I’m not built for surrender, because I prefer control – no surprise there. But the Lord has other plans for me right now – and no surprise THERE either. So I will practice surrender by letting go of my need to be in control. By letting my family serve me as they see fit.

Is this the story I want for myself right now? Not really, But because I’m sitting here, I have discovered something very cool. I am stronger than I knew. Not of my own accord, to be sure, but stronger, still. See, in the Kingdom of God, only the strong surrender. Only the strong see the bigger story God is telling. Only the strong give up the future they had planned for what God wants to do in the present. Only the strong let go of their own fears and let God fill them with peace and love and joy. And so…..I let go, and let God. Won’t you join me?

Patti Morlock

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