He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. -Isaiah 40:29-31
I’ve been taking birthing classes by Karen Welton that have impacted me much deeper than just preparing for labor. The overarching theme I’ve gathered from her course is surrender. It’s about letting go of fear and anxiety that cause tension and pain and reshaping our minds to dwell on truth and gratitude, which releases endorphins that actually block pain. It’s like God knew what He was doing when He designed a woman’s body to give birth. But our culture has made birth out to be this scary, medical emergency with the idea that pain in inevitable. Therefore all kinds of man-made interventions need to be made in order for a mother to birth her child and for the baby to survive. Because we have set ourselves up to expect pain in childbirth, our fear in labor releases adrenaline and cortisol – the fight or flight hormones that cause pain and therefore necessitate controlled interventions. This kind of pain says “This is bad. Run away.” But we were not designed to run away or see labor as bad. Child-birth is a beautiful, intentionally designed, intense, supernatural experience that brings us closer to our Creator. It places us in a position of complete surrender. If we try to control and manipulate or tense up during contractions, our bodies will react with pain, but if we relax, surrender, or embrace each contractions as it comes – like a wave washing over us and carrying us closer to new life – our bodies will naturally release oxytocin and endorphins that block pain.
This reality translates every area of life – not just giving birth. I have noticed that the more I try to control things and tense up when I don’t get what I want when I want it, pain naturally follows. My desires might be good desires – even Godly desires – but so many times when I have a desire, I take everything into my own hands trying to intervene and make my desire a reality. I’ll often try to find ways to cut corners or manipulate circumstances because after all – isn’t this desire from God? However, it seems that even if I get what I want, it doesn’t last or fulfill me the way it could have if I had just let go and let God orchestrate His plan in His way and in His timing. The process of trying to make things happen in my way and in my timing has caused so much unnecessary pain and frustration to myself and others.
On the contrary I have also experienced, even recently, not rejecting certain desires, but handing them over to God and surrendering to His lead – embracing the contractions so to speak – even when His way or His timing doesn’t make sense or feels uncomfortable. It’s not easy to do this. Just like during a contraction, it takes intentionality to let go, relax, and focus on the truth that God is good and sovereign and always has my best interest in mind. “Ironically” I have seen surrendered desires beautifully play out in a way I could never have fabricated on my own. Going along with the leading of the Spirit, riding the waves without tensing up and trying to control things, has brought a new excitement to life and feels so light and easy rather than forced and heavy.
I wonder what life would look like being perfectly surrendered to God – having total hope and trust in His ways. I imagine it would be like riding on the wings of eagles – being carried through life without all the vain striving and just seeing where life might take us.
I don’t know that my birthing experience will be completely pain-free, but the shift in mentality from fear and anxiety to surrender and trust has actually got me looking forward to labor and excited to see where the waves will take me.