As I’ve mentioned in passing before, at the moment my husband and I are spending much more time apart than either of us would like. We are both expatriates in Jakarta, with home countries elsewhere in the world, and as we are about to have our first child, we had prayed over how best to approach the situation. By the 2nd term, we had decided that I would come home to spend the third trimester and the baby’s first 6 weeks in a more familiar environment, closer to family. This decision was made even easier by the fact that our delivery date coincided very closely with Christmas – and Christmas is always spent with family.
At first, the arrangement was bearable. He’d come 2-3 times a month for a weekend, and we would spend time on calls 4 days a week in between. However, as time wore on, the travel became tiring and tedious (the best flight he can get is a red-eye on a Friday night that gets him here around 5 in the morning), and other things started getting in the way of spending quality time together. Pressure and busyness at work, obligations with family and friends, and more. The consequence has now been increased stress and separation anxiety.
I am a time person. Quality of time spent is the language that best communicates love to me. So, as we near the finish line (and the 3rd month stuck in this arrangement), I have found my patience, graciousness, and confidence waning.
Of course, it is a combination of factors. People did tell me this would be the hardest part: that last bit of waiting, but I had naively thought that perhaps I would be spared this famous “spiral” – which happens differently for every pregnant woman. In my case, as mentioned in my last post, it has come in the form of low immunity, mild (albeit uncomfortable) aches, a return to some of the infamous first trimester symptoms, and, unfortunately in the past 7 days: the worst mood swings ever. Add to that now the news from my doctor that (though you can never really predict it) we are potentially looking at an earlier-rather-than-later due date due to the size of the baby and how far he has started to drop. What was once “28th December, and besides most first babies come late” has become “maybe even as early as the week of the 14th…but if you go into labor in the next week or so we have no reason to stop it”…Suffice to say, this week, these compounding things hit me like a ton of bricks and with them came the worries, the anxieties, the insecurities, the self-pity, and the questions, the most fear-inducing being:
- Jay is not due to be here for an extended period until the 17th of December, and there are no good, immediate flights out of Indonesia coming here. What if he doesn’t make the delivery?
- Why do I feel so alone in this even though there are people all around me?
I asked myself these enough times in one day this week, that by the end of it not only was I exhausted, I was exhausting to be around. I threw my questions and concerns at my husband as we chatted whilst he was wrapping up work late into the night. I did try my best to be as loving and gentle and open-hearted as I could be in explaining how I felt, relaying my concerns, and proposing my solutions. But of course there was a side to what I was saying that was just a little selfish, and I knew that too.
As a young wife, and mama-to-be, sharing this experience with my husband has been one of the things I both most look forward to, and feel most hell-bent on. I have been blessed with a life partner who is steadfast, kind, faithful, strong, and patient, whose very demeanor makes everyone else around him calmer, more steadfast, stronger, and more patient. So, in these high pressure moments, without him around, it is easy for me to feel fearful and overwhelmed, and that’s exactly the state of mind I was allowing myself to descend into earlier this week.
Thankfully, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel, and the morning after my small outburst (which, btw, I only managed to quell by lying in bed and praying myself to sleep), as I opened up my Bible app to get further caught up on my daily devotions, I stumbled upon a Countdown to Christmas devotional series. It’s called Waiting Here for You (an Advent Devotional by Louis Giglio with roots in this book), and somehow stood out to me on the homepage (likely because of its title, which reminds me of one of my favorite Martin Smith songs). It must really have been a direct blessing from God, because upon opening up the first page of content, I was immediately confronted by this:
…While God rarely comes at our appointed time, He always comes at the right time. All of us are waiting on something, often wondering if God has forgotten us. In your waiting, let the birth of Christ encourage you. Just because God hasn’t come through (as far as you can see), it doesn’t mean He has abandoned you. To Him a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years are like a day. This very minute He’s working for His glory and for your good. Though circumstances say otherwise, God is going to come through, on schedule, fulfilling His long-appointed plans for you. …Take hope in the manger and know that you are loved and prized by the God who stepped down from heaven and arrived at the perfect time for you.
I was immediately convicted, and began the study that very moment. Shortly thereafter, Jay and I were able to work through some reasonable solutions and action plans to ensure that our needs and obligations to each other and our growing family are met as best as can be, and he helped me make extra efforts to ensure we saw those plans to fruition. Now, though many of these questions remain, I no longer feel so fazed by them. Recently, I had taken to speaking softly to our child, telling him gently and smilingly (and nervously too), “Wacht op jou vader. [Wait for your father.]” And it’s so ironic that I can tell him to wait patiently for his father, without first surrendering my own desires/anxieties/insecurities and trust in Our Father – without agreeing as well to Wait on Our Father and His perfect plans, and His perfect timing.
Now I can substitute my Top 2 anxieties, with convictions:
- Though Jay is not due to be here for an extended period until the 17th of December, and there are no good, immediate flights out of Indonesia, it is our responsibility to lift up our desires and worries to God and to trust that He will provide for us what is best. God knows what we want, and He knows how important this is to us, and the best possible outcome (whatever it ends up being) will be taken care of if we only have faith. I can rest in the knowledge that God loves me, and Jay loves me, and both of them will come through.
- Though I may feel alone, this is still only a feeling, and like all feelings, it too will pass. Focus instead on the truth that:
- I am never alone. God is always with me.
- Though Jay is alone in Indonesia, while I am here surrounded by a support group, God is also with him. It is not for either of us to cultivate self-pity. Rather, we should be gracious, kind, empathetic, loving, and overflowing with confidence and strength knowing God is with our family, always.
I am grateful everyday for the gifts of health, a wonderful husband, a fantastic support group, and a bright future ahead of us as a family. What I’ve learned this week is that it is important, especially as we come to the finish line that we maintain an eternal perspective: with our eyes fixed on Christ, our strength drawn from the Spirit, and our confidence in Him (and so in one another) unwavering.
Though technically that should be a daily conviction, it does bode well to say/doesn’t hurt to add: and that, my friends, is what Christmas is all about! Welcome to December, everybody!