One way to dive deeper into God's love

As I was pondering and praying about this blog post last evening, I felt like I was standing on the end of a high diving board—as though I’ve been climbing a very tall ladder for a very long time and once I take this next step, there’s no turning back. As I pictured myself standing there, toes curled over the edge of the board, a song from twenty years ago that I still have on my exercise playlist came to mind:
The long awaited rains
Have fallen hard upon the thirsty ground
And carved their way to where
The wild and rushing river can be found
And like the rains
I have been carried to where the river flows, yeah
My heart is racing, and my feet are weak
As I walk to the edge
I know there is no turing back
Once my feet have left the ledge
And in the rush I hear a voice
That’s telling me to take a leap of faith
So here I go
I’m diving in, I’m going deep, in over my head I want to be
Caught in the rush, lost in the flow, in over my head I want to go
The river’s deep, the river’s wide, the river’s water is alive
So sink or swim, I’m diving in. . . (Steven Curtis Chapman, “Dive”)

It’s strange to think that when that song was released in 1999, I was partway through my first year of obstetrics specialty training. Five years of that residency training, four and a half years in Afghanistan, and ten years recovering and discovering God’s love from a whole different vantage point—I’ve done a lot of diving into new situations in those years. (And yes, sometimes finding myself in over my head!)
When I completed medical school and began obstetrical specialty training, I had no idea that I’d only get to witness and assist the birthing of new physical life for ten years—five years of training, and five of practice as an obstetrician. Nor did I know either the pain or the (even bigger) gift that would follow.
While I was working as an obstetrician, though I did glimpse the holiness of the process, my focus was on managing the situation, keeping mom and baby safe, and trying to stay more or less (preferably more) in control of an often uncontrollable process.
Then when my body could no longer handle the stress of being, for a time, the only doctor for 150,000 people in a little mountain village in central Afghanistan, I was forced to face head-on the reality that I am not in control. I couldn’t even manage my own body, let alone anyone else’s. I could barely sit up for a meal, and one long night it took two tries to drag myself, crawling on hands and knees, to the outhouse to empty the little bucket for which I had become increasingly grateful. It has been a long journey back to some semblance of health—much longer than the week it took me to get home, stopping en route to rest for a while and then be flown business class the rest of the way because I was too sick to sit up.
Why am I telling you all this now? Because one of the loveliest gifts of these past ten years has been the surprise that just as I stepped out of practicing obstetrics, I unknowingly stepped into experiencing obstetrics in a whole different way, from a variety of different angles.
I’ve discovered that I’m the baby, carried safely in the One “in whom we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). I’ve lived and pondered the privilege that we have of carrying Jesus within us and bearing his life into the world. I’ve experienced God midwifing me wisely and gently through the whole process.
As I’ve pondered these roles, it has been impossible for me to avoid the sense that God’s love is so big and his desire to draw us into it so great that no single metaphor is sufficient to communicate that love. God circles and doubles back, revealing himself in Scripture in all the different roles in the obstetrical drama: as mother, father, husband, midwife, even baby whom we, along with Mary, are graced to carry. Each of these roles has offered me comfort and encouragement and help in understanding many aspects of our relationship to God as we live this holy, mysterious, and sometimes painful life with him.
I’ve shared a few bits of this here over the years, but mostly I’ve written about other things on this blog while I’ve been completing a theology degree and spiritual director training and writing a book about learning to trust God’s love as illustrated by the story I’ve just told you in brief above. The book hasn’t yet been published, but in the meantime I’m bursting to share some of what the professor who supervised my book-writing termed “obstetrical theology,” and it seems now is the right time to share it. In case the mention of theology frightens you, don’t worry. There’s nothing abstract or dry about the way God has revealed himself in the birth drama. We’re all carried and born, after all, and in revealing himself in these roles that we can all in some way relate to, God offers us the kind of practical, tangible comfort I suspect we all need when life feels a bit out of control. So will you join me over the coming weeks as we dive a little deeper into the love of God as he has revealed it to us through all the different roles in the birth drama? I’m excited to share this with you!


When you relate to God, do you relate to him more often as your father, your mother, your husband, your baby, or your midwife?
Do any of the roles seem strange or uncomfortable to you? Do you have any sense why that might be?
Is there anything you’d like to say to God about all this as we dive in?


If you’re excited about this series and haven’t yet subscribed to receive my weekly blog posts by email, would you consider doing so? That helps me serve you in multiple ways: you won’t miss any of these posts, you’ll have access to the extra little surprises I’m preparing for those on my email list, and you’ll help me get the book I’ve written for you published. (Not surprisingly, potential publishers want to know people are interested in reading an author’s words!)
My sincere thanks to so many of you who share the posts you find helpful with others who might be interested. I can write these words, but only you can get them to that friend of yours who might be helped by them today.


Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

This Post Has 15 Comments

  1. tamaragonz

    Hi Carolyn, I’m excited to hear about these next steps you’re taking toward the publication of your book, and I look forward to the insights you’ll be sharing in the weeks to come! Your writing truly draws me closer into the love of God. Thanks for always blessing my Monday inbox! Warmly,Tammy González 
    Sent from Yahoo Mail for iPhone

    1. hearingtheheartbeat

      Thanks Tammy. My great desire is that the words I post here draw people closer into the love of God, so it delights me to hear that you have been experiencing that here.

  2. Roy

    Carolyn, I look forward to these coming weeks, the way that you have been gifted to share the “good news” that you write and reflect on in these posting has been a blessing. Excited to see what’s next.
    Whoooo, hooo!

    1. hearingtheheartbeat

      Thanks for sharing my excitement, Roy. I’m so glad this place has been a blessing to you.

  3. Julia Putzke

    I’m excited for this series. I had a dream the other day of me being on the back of a boat and God asking me to jump in the water, but the depths scare me. But then I wind up in the water and the amount of space scares me, like I’m afraid to make a mistake. This was funny seeing your blog post in my inbox. Something God wants to get my attention with. Interested in your book, too! ☺️

    1. hearingtheheartbeat

      Thanks for sharing this, Julia. I love how God often speaks in “surround sound” when he wants to get our attention!

  4. Janet Russell

    Carolyn, I’ve enjoyed your blog for years and look forward to hearing more of your story and thoughts. May the Lord bless the release of your book!

    1. hearingtheheartbeat

      Thanks, Janet! I’m glad you find this place helpful, and I look forward to when I can share the book with you.

  5. Janet Fraser-Smith

    Good post, Caroli and good idea too.
    Auntie Janet.

  6. Kay

    God as Mother and Father . I grew up without a Daddy due to Divorce like so many others… So My Mama became both ….until 17 months ago she went to Jesus after a long eight year battle of lung cancer . I always wondered how it would’ve been to have a Dad and wanted a Daddy . With Mom gone i really felt a loss so deep … A song about how God takes care of Orphans brought tears to my eyes and in a strange way pain and healing. Abba Father thank You I’m not alone…not abandoned…. But Cherished, Wanted, and Loved.

    1. hearingtheheartbeat

      Thanks so much for sharing a bit of your story, Kay. May you continue to know yourself held in a very special way by the One who loves you so dearly.

  7. Marion VanGaalen

    Dearest Carolyn,
    I’m excited…

  8. Bonita

    Very exciting indeed! I am starting to relate to God more as mother, helped greatly by you and reading a draft! I think I am a little uncomfortable with the idea of midwife mostly because I do not see myself as birthing something. However, there are probably several things I am birthing but feel it’s kind of presumptuous to think these things are very significant, at least yet. I am looking forward to this new series!!!

    1. hearingtheheartbeat

      Thanks Bonita. Re the midwife: Does it feel more natural to think of yourself as being born into a new way of being in the world? Just like God in Scripture moves back and forth between the various roles in the birth drama, offering himself to us as father, mother, husband, midwife, and baby, so we find ourselves in different places in the picture. I remember at one point I assumed I must be the mother birthing something, and my spiritual director helped me see that at that point I was the baby and my “job” was to surrender to the process, not do anything to make it happen.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.