Birthing Beauty (Merry Christmas!)

In light of the current Advent season, I’ve been thinking about the notion of new life. I believe each of us is carrying something of immense value, and must push through challenges in order to “birth” it. Birthing a life is understood to be an agonizing process. A mother enters this process in full knowledge of the discomforts to come and the physical pain to be endured. She realizes that there is a promise on the other side of her pain.

Years ago, I read the words “suffering is not a plunging into darkness, but a wrenching into light.” More recently, I listened to Coretta Scott King sharing words penned by her husband: “unearned suffering is redemptive.” This struck me…we have the ability to shift our understanding of our pain. This paradigm shift is deeply hopeful. It prompts me to consider areas of my life that are painful, and reframe them. It endows such struggles with meaning; they become a movement towards something greater. Dr. King’s profound words refer to the struggles of the Civil Rights Movement, drawing inspiration from the redemption narrative of the Gospel. He also refers to suffering as potentially creative. I think it’s important to trust that the greatest pains we endure, both communally and individually, are not senseless. To the contrary, they can be quite purposeful.

Sometimes when I find myself facing a situation that makes me feel insecure, uncertain, or overwhelmed, I remind myself, “I was created for this moment.” It’s usually when I am about to walk onto a stage that has me particularly nervous, or into a conversation I’m anxious about the outcome of. I imagine I will whisper this to myself as I give birth one day. These moments are anticipatory, often tense, full of unknowns. But so much has led to such a moment, to such a time as this (Esther 4:14). So much hard work and preparation, grace & guidance. In these moments, I encourage myself to think of the promise and let muscle memory kick in. Pushing through discomfort, pain, fear. Life is full of labor pains. But how beautiful to consider that we are birthing something. Our trials are not in vain. We can choose to endure pain for the sake of love and new life. Keeping this front of mind bestows the strength to persevere through pain.

I’ve also been realizing that love is a creative force. As we’re made in the image of God, we are inherently creative. In a tangible sense, consider the ultimate act of creation we’re capable of: producing another life. Literally birthing another human, out of intimacy and love shared. *Biologically speaking*, romantic love has the aim of producing new human life. I think it’s beautiful that love (romantic or otherwise) is about creating and cohabiting a space of trust. Intimacy is cultivated, built between two souls. And out of that togetherness comes new life, in a variety of forms. Sometimes it looks like a 7lb infant, sometimes it looks like a cowritten song, sometimes it’s simply a shared space of warmth and understanding.

The Christmas narrative is one of new life and immense hope. Mary was ushered into this glorious narrative because of her willingness to endure pain and uncertainty. Her courage was instrumental to a pivotal moment in history. It was a moment she was created for, and will be forever remembered by. The verse that has found me this year is Isaiah 7:14 - Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call Him Immanuel. This verse, along with many others, foretells the coming of Christ. Before birth can occur, there is a season of preparation; there are growing pains, & undeniable signs of the impending arrival. We expectantly await that which has been promised.

As I celebrate the miraculous conception and birth of Christ, I am deeply grateful. I consider the dreams I’ve been given, the gifts I am called to steward. As I mature, I hope to be more patient and trusting in seasons of preparation. When the set time has fully come (Galatians 4:4), may I push through all fear and pain, birthing beauty into a world that at times seems lacking.

Tyné Freeman