I’m sure every mama out there would agree with me when I say that being pregnant is absolutely surreal: the notion that a tiny person is growing inside of my body never ceases to amaze me. Each little kick and poke and hiccup is a precious reminder of the miracle of life that is currently taking place behind my (protruding) belly button. As a first-time mom, it is all so new and exciting; and yet, it is really not new at all: pregnancy, labor, and parenthood are as old as life itself.
I doubt that a single woman has entered into labor (and, subsequently, parenthood) without experiencing at least some level of fear and anxiety. As much as I would like to make claims to the contrary, I am not the exception to this rule. Since the moment I learned I was pregnant—and even before that—I have found plenty of things to keep me up at night. I spent my entire first trimester in a state of perpetual (sometimes paralyzing) fear that I would miscarry. These days, my fears are more focused on the birth: will my child be healthy? What if something goes wrong? Am I making the right decision about having an out-of-hospital birth? What if I do or say something horrifically embarrassing during my labor? I’ve sat through classes and read articles and books and done all that I can to be prepared, but what if it somehow isn’t enough? What if I totally stink at delivering a baby?
Then, of course, are my fears about parenthood itself: what if I fail at being the nurturing and attentive mom I envision myself being? Will I be unable to breastfeed? What if sleep deprivation and postpartum depression render me incapable of taking care of my son? Will I be an effective spiritual leader and role model for my child? How will I balance parenthood with the happenings and obligations of daily life? And my greatest fear of all: what if, somehow, my child does not know or understand how very much he is loved? I am tormented by the notion that my baby might not comprehend the depth and breadth of the love I have for him. . . that he might—for one nanosecond—feel that he is unloved. How would I live with myself if that happened?
I recognize that, while many of my current fears are totally plausible, most of the worst-case scenarios running through my head are unlikely to occur, and some are completely irrational. I also realize that the more time I spend indulging my fears, the greater their likelihood of coming true. However, acknowledging their unreasonableness does little to eliminate their existence in my mind, or squelch their potential for wrecking havoc on my well-being.
Inspirational author Joyce Meyer once wrote that “fear is a tool the devil uses against us to make us miserable and destroy our lives.” I have certainly experienced this at points in my own life, especially in the last few months. I have learned first-hand that dwelling on my “what-ifs” is not only counterproductive, it also takes my focus off of God, whose desire for me (and for ALL of us) is to replace my fears with total reliance on His sovereign will and limitless power.
So if focusing on my fears is so destructive, why am I rehashing my myriad pregnancy and parenting anxieties in a blog post? My purpose in exposing these fears here is twofold: first, I am choosing to be vulnerable in this area because I am sure other women out there are experiencing similar emotions, and I want them to know that they are not alone. My second, and primary, reason for writing so openly on this topic is a more selfish one: I believe fear thrives in an environment of secrecy, and the simple act of acknowledging and sharing my fears gives them less power over me.
In the words of Charles Stanley, “fear stifles our thinking and actions. It creates indecisiveness that results in stagnation [and an] erosion of confidence.” By recognizing my fears, and then refusing to let them have power over me, I can move beyond this stagnation and lack of confidence, and into a position of relying completely on God. As I spend more time meditating on Him and His promises, there will be little remaining space for debilitating fears to creep into my life, weaving their web of deception and destruction.
God invites us to cast all our anxieties on Him. Though I will probably never succeed at completely letting go of my baby-related apprehension, I am working to accept His offer of peace as I lay my fears at His feet and trust in Him to carry me beyond my misgivings and into an abundant life. Only when I place my trust in God—the same God who has proven His goodness and reliability again and again in my life—will I be able to overcome the fears that are holding me back from being the mom that He knows I can be.