“All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.” (Romans 8: 22-25, The Message).
It is strange and beautiful to think of myself as pregnant. I am not married and have no children of my own, and yet I am constantly surrounded by pregnancy and little ones. When people ask, as they inevitably do, “Do you have any children?” I’ve come up with a response that crushes my heart less than a simple “No.” Instead, I respond, “I have 102 babies. But they all live at the hospital where I work, so I sleep through the night!” I joke that my work as a therapist in the neonatal intensive care unit allows me to parent, if even in a small way. I work hard to help preterm babies learn the skills they need to thrive in a world outside the womb. It is a job full of tough stories and tiny snuggles.
Because of my background, these verses struck out to me in new ways. Life is full of pain and blocked goals. We experience the groaning and longings. But there is purpose in them. There is a direction to our lament. There will be resolution.
We are a pregnant, gestating, expectant people.
I am pregnant. I wait, expecting a future and a hope prepared for me.
I am not a patient person in general, I have my list of tasks and work hard to accomplish them. I believe that waiting is a time of forced non-activity that is wasted and useless. But these verses changed my perspective. Waiting isn’t nothing. “We are enlarged in the waiting.” Waiting is gestating, growing, hoping, and preparing for something in the future. No one would accuse a pregnant lady of non-activity! She’s literally growing a person! It is a beautiful time of anticipation.
I want to wait this way. Wait for my future and the answers to my heart’s longings in hope and growth not stagnancy or resignation. Pregnancy is inherently a temporary situation. There will be an end to the gestation; the waiting will not last forever. My pregnant waiting feels like forever. I have been waiting for decades for a family of my own. When my loneliness escalates, I can remind myself that my waiting will not be forever. My pregnant pause will end.
I can gaze at my metaphorically growing belly and reflect on where I’ve come from and how much has already been accomplished and revealed to me. And I can anticipate more growth, the joy of birth, and the end of my waiting. My future is premature; it isn’t ready for me yet. I have more gestating to do.