When you’re ashamed of the mess

They come, the memories, as I struggle with my messy heart, wishing I could make it all neat and tidy and clean. Feeling ashamed of having to ask for prayer for the same challenges. Again.

They come, memories of my days assisting new life in its journey into the world. The arrival of new life was seldom a tidy process.  There was pain and vomiting and fear, tears and cries of “Just get it out!” Often the descending pressure of the baby’s head emptied the mother’s bowels. Pushing caused loss of urine.  When the waters broke and again when the baby’s body was finally born, there was a gush of fluid, sometimes soaking me to the skin despite my protective clothing. Did I mind? No! New life was being born!

The least messy births were often sad ones.  The baby was tiny, premature, the head scarcely big enough to press on the mother’s bowels. Or the nine months were complete, but blood flow to the baby had been poor, leaving the baby stunted and swimming in little fluid. Little mess. But stunted growth.

Back in the present, I cry for God to do in me what only He can do.  A friend calls and comes and listens and hugs and prays and I see His life growing in her and she in me, and grace, grace for both of us, comes with her. And in the gift of her presence, I see all over again.  How the One who brings life into being in us, tending it gently and with great skill, is little worried about the mess of the process. He’s okay with smelling our stench, getting our blood on his arms. Even with moving right in, letting our mess fill him and kill him, the blood and the fluid of the new life within us flowing from within him.

I’m the one uncomfortable with the mess of the process, not him. His ears are tuned to the baby’s heartbeat, eyes on the baby’s head, watching, coaching, encouraging as the head crowns and new life breaks forth.

And I see, too, how desperately we need to keep doing this for each other, this midwifing, this being present in the mess and helping each other believe in the miracle taking place when we can’t see it.

I’d like to say I’m okay now with being messy, but, honestly, I’m not. Not yet. I still find it hard to let people see the mess. One thing I know for certain, though. I’d rather God’s life within me grow vigorous and strong and burst forth in its own way and in His time, clearing out the mess in its way, than that my heart be tidy and barren.