Womb

My wife is pregnant.

Notice how I didn’t say, “We’re pregnant.”

Because regardless of how much I contributed to the making of this baby (yes I typed that while grinning)-in no way, shape, or form am I carrying the baby.

I am reminded of this reality every day.

Like when she gets up every 30 minutes throughout the night to pee and Im comfortably cocooned in my blanket in bed fast asleep.

Or when she has a skull splitting headache however she can’t take any medicine to relieve the pain so she is sprawled out on the bathroom floor (so she can throw up) with tears streaming down her face whimpering, and there is nothing that I can do to help. I can’t be helpful to her and she is completely helpless.

Although I try, most of my attempts at caretaking are ineffective in treating her headache. There really isn’t anything I can do but be present in solidarity and watch her bare the symptoms of this process.

Or how about when she throws up so often and so violently that the trauma done to her esophagus causes bleeding. So not only is she barfing up EVERY. SINGLE. THING she eats, but she is also spitting up blood as well.

She created a name for when she is having an overactive vomiting day.

She calls it “barfy.” I’ll use it in a sentence. “Today I feel barfy”- My Wife.

This means without warning and without rhyme or reason she will projectile vomit everything she ate or (thought she ate) like her body is exorcizing demons.

The longest she has gone without feeling “barfy” was 24 hours.

She is 28 weeks pregnant.

So for the past 200 days she has had a couple 24 hour windows of serenity where everything she consumed decided to be fully digested. Im not kidding when I say if I throw up once I’m out for at least a couple of days, bed ridden. If I throw up twice within 24 hours I start reviewing my beneficiaries on my life insurance policies as well as finalizing my final wishes in my will. I basically prepare for death like any responsible man.

But not my wife, she worked this entire time and continues to. Feeling “barfy” isn’t going to hold her back.

Everyday my wife goes through child-bearing olympics. The stress and emotions that surge through her body on a daily basis have the capacity to immobilize even the strongest woman, yet she keeps trucking. Her physiology is changing as well. Her skin is growing and along with that comes stretch marks and even worse the gnawing insecurities. As the baby grows her back pain increases. Her hormone levels are skyrocketing through the roof,  yet her heart is steadfast.

Lets not forget the things she has to live without in consideration of growing a healthy baby: first, no caffeine. That means no delicious coffee every morning to start her day. No sushi. Sushi, which is one of her 5 main food groups is completely out of the picture. No alcohol. She isn’t much of a drinker but a good ol’fashion keg stand every now and then never hurt anybody (joking). Mayonaisse is out of the question too (because of the raw eggs). How do you eat sandwiches then??!!! That’s like a transgression of the highest degree for sandwhich aficionados. Oh and she cant eat sandwich meat either….

This process of growing and sustaining a healthy baby is all consuming. Everything my wife does is oriented around the health and well being of our baby. Its not about her wants, desires and needs anymore, its about the baby’s.

The craziest thing is- after all this my wife said she would do it all over again if it meant having a healthy baby. I kind of think that’s extremely altruistic and to be honest, pretty crazy, but I recently discovered that the Bible has another word for it.

 

 

 

The Bible calls it LOVE.

 

 

However the word for this kind of love in Hebrew is “WOMB.”

The English language doesn’t have an appropriate equivalent to this kind of love which is one of the problems with the English language.

I can say I love my wife and in the same breath I can say I love Tacos….

However in Hebrew when the writers of scripture wanted to express the love that God has for his people they used the word for the most intimate and caring affection humans can experience. The love a mother has for her baby in the womb.

This tells us something about God. One, God is absolutely enamored with the motherly instincts of women so much so that He would prefer to be likened and perfectly illustrated by how they love their babies. Two, God doesn’t play favorites with which gender is “better” at reflecting His character and heart within creation. Both genders equally reflect and display His image within in our world.

This may sound a little weird at first but God “wombs” us.

(If you want to be cool and hebrew just go ahead and replace the word “love” with “womb” in your everyday interactions. No one will think you’re weird.)

A favorite biblical scholar of mine, Phyllis Trible, when talking about this word actually says it illustrates more of a phrase close to “womb-like-mother-love”.

God has a “womb-like-mother-love” for us.

In other words, God’s compassionate concern for us is a lot like my wife’s compassionate concern for our little baby girl in her belly.

Imagine being tethered to something that is solely dependent on you for its life and sustenance. And that “thing” is fully at your mercy- vulnerable and helpless. However, being loving and self-giving; you share every bit of your resources, time, and energy so that this “thing” will not only survive but thrive and flourish. The main motivation for everything you do is centered around the protection and provision of this. one. thing.

That is the position that a pregnant woman is in and that is the posture she takes towards her unborn child from day one.

And if you think that this type of other-oriented self-sacrificial love that a mom has for her baby is overwhelmingly beautiful (which I do!), how much more so is God’s love for us?

In fact see for yourself how the prophet Isaiah describes God’s love in chapter 46:3-4

“Listen to me, you descendants of Jacob,
    all the remnant of the people of Israel,
you whom I have upheld since your birth,
    and have carried since you were born.
Even to your old age and gray hairs
    I am he, I am he who will sustain you.
I have made you and I will carry you;
    I will sustain you and I will rescue you.”

And in chapter 49 Isaiah continues

Before I was born the Lord called me;
    from my mother’s womb he has spoken my name

But God’s people said, “The Lord has forsaken me,
    the Lord has forgotten me.”

Then God replies;

“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
    and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget,
    I will not forget you!
 See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands”

That last phrase absolutely wrecks me.

“I have engraved you on the palms of my hands”

Of course if you are familiar with the Biblical narrative you will know that God eventually has His hands engraved with roman nails. Every inch of iron driven through His flesh and sinew was in some way revealing our names. So that He would never forget them.

That’s the type of breathtaking love God has for us.

Thanks to my wife, Elina, I get a front row seat to experience this kind of love everyday.

 

I love you babe.

( better yet I ‘womb’ you… )

 

We Are Not Afraid

I woke up this morning to another news headline from around the world that described yet another unspeakable terrorist attack at an Istanbul night club. 39 lives were taken and 69 others were threatened with severe injuries. I published the post below in November 2015 right after the atrocious terrorist attack in Brussels Paris however today I feel that it is still prevalent.

Fear infected the hearts of many like a contagion dispersed from the terrorist attacks yesterday. Pandemonium spread throughout every media source like a virus , inundating humanity with the horror and tragedy that devastated the people of Paris. A darkness gripped the world as we all watched and waited . Counting the toll, taking inventory of the wounded…

As the numbers rose our hearts sank.

And yet in the midst of all the panic and turmoil, a statement was audaciously presented in a crowd in protest. On handmade card board signs illuminated by strands of LED lights read this phrase;

” NOT AFRAID ”

Can you believe it?!

Hours after a horrific terrorist attack, that claimed over a hundred lives, somebody has the nerve to declare that they’re “NOT AFRAID” . Instead of running scared and hiding for safety which is what any normal human being would do, these people decided to stand out in the open and mock the enemy .
And I find that incredibly endearing.
I even sort of envy those individuals for their blatant gallantry.
I want that , whatever that is that drives them to be so bold , I feel is an extremely important element to be sought after.
 I long for that virtue within myself.
In the western world, safety and comfort are high on the priority list for most but these individuals have tapped into something that is more essential, more fundamental to being human and that is to be ALIVE . To be fully ALIVE is to live life without fear . To stare death in the face and not even flinch .
It’s dangerous. 
Its  daring.
 And  its absolutely vital for all who truly want to live life fully ALIVE.

Maybe this is what bravery looks like. Maybe this is what faith looks like. Maybe this is the definition of courage . Maybe courage can be more contagious than fear as it ignites the human spirit to rise and face the night with burning hearts. This fearlessness can even seem illogical and irrational in the wake of such dismay however I believe it can be the octane that drives us forward into the dawn.
#wearenotafraid

 

A New Year, a New You.. and other cliché ideas

There is something inexplicably magical about a New Year.  For homosapiens  (that’s you and me ), it is an event that symbolizes a panacea to all life’s issues. 

Its like a fresh start for everyone ( except if you have a criminal record )

It even has that new car smell to it. Another page gets turned. Another Chapter is being written. You basically get a do-over in life.

To reset and reboot .

To dream again, to try again..

 And to reach for things that seem unattainable. Again.

 You know all those goals you never reached in 2016? The six-pack-abs goal,  the eating-healthy goal , the become-a-millionaire goal, the fortitude-not-to-watch-another-Marvel-Avengers-movie-goal (and then you have a lapse in judgment and you watch one only to realize how unbelievably bad they are- every. single. one.) 

Well now you get to scrap those and create new ones that you’re probably not going to accomplish. (Im kidding)

Even though I didn’t reach those goals I decided to retrieve one from the archives that I made three years ago. And right now. This very moment.  Im accomplishing it (so there is hope! ). It was my goal one day to start my own blog.

Boom.

I did it and now I get to put a big fat check next to that one.

A New Year is also a time to learn from mistakes and to forget things that are unhelpful. Like the time your friend recommended an ultra hipster coffee shop to try, so you try it, and the coffee tasted like they steeped old cigarette buds in hot water mixed with ashes and soot (hipsters love soot). And of course this ultra hipster coffee shop wouldnt name their beverages something normal like “Cold Brew” or “Iced Coffee”. No that would be too understandable and reasonable. This coffee shop was so “authentic” that they had all their coffee selections in the native tongues in relation to where they were harvested geographically. So if you aren’t fluent in Tanzanian or Ancient Aboriginal tongues, you have the option of hiring their full time menu interpreter to help you navigate your coffee experience. Needless to say the only word I recognized on the menu was “wifi”.

A New Year is also a time to remember all the lessons learned (like never to go back to that coffee shop). To recollect all the memories made . To press on, to move forward.

 There is an innate longing in us as humans to crave newness. To desire rebirth. I believe that’s why new year’s resolutions play such vital role in our lives.

And yet for some reason we believe that this type of reorientation is only reserved for one time at the end of the year and the start of a new one. 

As if we can’t do all those things on any other day or at any other time?

For this reason and many more reasons is why I love my Faith tradition.

Christianity houses a wealth of wisdom and truth that constantly points us to the fact that every moment is a chance to start over.

Throughout scripture you encounter compelling words like “God’s mercies are new every morning”.

“Forget the former things, do not dwell on the past. Behold, Im doing a new thing!”

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.”

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, they are a New Creation. The old is gone and the new has come!”

Every page, every poem, every song, every prophecy is drenched in this movement.

The trajectory of scripture is this constant pulling and prodding of God’s people to move forward.

To move beyond our past. Beyond our failures. Beyond our fears.

To move forward even if its a fall. If you fall forward you still fall upon a grace that is sufficient enough to hold you.

To move forward with this in mind;

Every minute is an opportunity for change, 

Every tomorrow is a place for regeneration,

The worst week , month, or season is not final but a temporary period that holds no permanence.

The trial, the hardships, the failures are not what define you. 

The cold winter gives way to a vibrant spring,

The darkest night gives way to the brightest dawn,

As we hold fast to a hope that resists finality. We believe in second chances.

Mulligans occur (its a golf term.)

Grace abounds , Mercy overwhelms.

We. still. move. forward.

We get to look ahead with anticipation,

Knowing things can be different.

Things will get better, 

We can improve, we can be better.

Its going to take God’s Grace (a lot of it ). Its going to take God’s Love (God’s love is unchanging and unwavering towards us regardless if our performance is stellar or subpar).  And its going to take God’s people (life change always happens in the context of relationship, so make sure you surround yourself with people to encourage you and hold you accountable).

So even if you’re a week in to 2017 and you have failed at every single one of your New Years resolutions, you don’t have to wait until another 365 days to pass for another chance.

You can start over. Right here. Right now.

Cheers to a New Year!