Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Icky, Sticky Birth and Rebirth

[I intended to post this the week before Easter because the topic fit. But life will be life and I didn't get it done. That's not so bad, though - focusing on the sacrifice of our Savior is never out of season!]

Despite the fact that I have been a doula for seven plus years, each time I have the privilege of taking part in the birth of a baby, the awesomeness of it amazes me yet again. I never get tired of it; never look at it as “just another day on the job.” It truly is a beautiful miracle. Now, when I use the word beautiful here, I mean birth is beautiful, laboring women are beautiful, women who have just had babies are beautiful. However, birthing is not beautiful. It is a messy, primal process that involves great amounts of blood and other bodily fluids, sweat and tears, moaning, groaning, sometimes screaming. Women are laid vulnerable, their bodies taking over, humbling them mightily. Birthing is an icky, sticky business. I have often looked at laboring women in the thick of it all, wondering why God chose this way for babies to enter the world. The intensity and messiness of it seems wholly inappropriate for the miracle that it is.

New life. Beautiful, amazing, splendid, gift-of-the-Creator new life - entering through a door of pain and blood.

I will not pretend to be a Biblical scholar but we know that childbirth was part of God’s original design. Would the sensations that women in birth describe as pain be felt in the perfect world? Would a lack of sin make it so that babies just came right out? What we have to go on is that in Genesis it says that part of the punishment given to Eve for her sin is that she will bring forth children in pain. Some people have taken this to mean pain more on an intellectual or emotional level – the pain of seeing one’s child hurt, for example. This idea stems from the fact that many women do not describe the sensations of labor as pain, so God must not have meant literal pain. It’s also interesting to note that the same word translated as pain in reference to Eve is later translated as labor(hard work) when referring to Adam’s difficulty in farming the land. Whatever birth would have been like if not for sin in the world, I believe that God has a reason for allowing birth to be as it is now.

It wasn’t too long ago that I really started to consider the point of it all and it was during one particular birth recently that I was overwhelmed with an answer: Redemption came to the world in just this way. Jesus did not just happen upon the Earth, he was born of a woman in the same way that all other babies are born – with the water, the blood, the placenta, and all the icky mess that goes along with it. Then, in a death that was the epitome of humility and vulnerability, filled with pain, blood, sweat, and tears, Jesus provided the path to rebirth. With His resurrection, it became clear that everything He went through had a purpose and was infinitely worth the suffering.

Through the blood, sweat, pain, humility and tears of our mothers, we are born into this world. Through the blood, sweat, pain, humility and tears of our Lord, we are born again – redeemed to an inheritance that we do not deserve. Birth – like so many things in this world – is a picture of a spiritual truth and a message from God about His mercy and love.