In case you missed our big announcement on Facebook and Twitter, Jim and I are expecting our first child this May. As I approach the halfway mark of my pregnancy this week, I realize pregnancy hasn't been exactly what I expected. First of all, the first trimester was pretty rough. I felt sick 24 hours a day and had trouble eating anything—which made trying to act normal at work very difficult. I had to cut way back on get togethers and parties and dinners out (and even writing on this blog), simply because I was so sick and tired I couldn’t handle it.
And while I thought I'd be busy thinking about what kind of parent I'll be and how we'll take care of this new, squirming little person, those thoughts have rarely crossed my mind. Instead, I've wondered whether it's possible to still be me and a mom. I've rolled my eyes at the countless toys and onesies that perpetuate terrible gender clichés and wondered how my son or daughter will manage these messages—and how he or she will fight to change them.
As I've focused on Advent these last few weeks, my mind has turned to all the waiting involved in pregnancy. The waiting seems especially fitting for the season of Advent, and more than a few times I've compared the two.
After all, as a first-time mom, I'm waiting for something that will change everything, something that will turn my world upside down, something that requires me to prepare . . . and yet I really don't know much about what I'm preparing for.
Sure, I've heard countless stories from friends. In fact, I'm thankful that I have friends with numerous differing—even competing—stories about birth and motherhood and caring for a newborn. And I've read books and articles that explain more than I ever expected. I've read reviews from mothers and healthcare professionals and picked out some baby gear. I definitely have an idea of what's in store.
But at the same time, I have no idea. I don't know whether I'm having a boy or a girl. I don't know what his or her personality will be like. I don't know what birth will be like or when it will happen. I don't know what I'll feel or think when I hold my crying baby for the first time. I have no idea exactly how much my schedule or priorities or relationships will change. I don't know how I'll change.
As I think about these fast-approaching yet largely unknown changes, I get a fuller sense for the waiting involved in the season of Advent. Imagine the feelings Mary had when Gabriel said to her:
Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you! Don’t be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end! The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. (Luke 1)
Give birth to the Son of God? He'll be given the throne of David? What in the world does that mean?
It's likely Mary would have heard the prophecies of the coming Messiah. Even so, there's no way that the prophecies could fully prepare her for what was about to happen. God's people, in general, were totally unprepared for the Savior who was coming. Sure, they'd heard things. They'd read things in Scripture. And yet they had no idea what a living, breathing Savior among them would really mean: how he would change the world, how he would change their hearts, and how he would open the door for relationship with God.
Advent is about preparing and waiting for this change that the world could not have prepared for. It's trusting that even in our unpreparedness, God will take care of the details. It's knowing that whatever God's got in store is better than we could imagine—even if it's more challenging than we imagine, too.
I'm thankful that my pregnancy aligns with Advent this year. It's reminding me just how beautiful and big and all-encompassing and unbelievable God's plan is that he sent Jesus to live among us. It's reminding me just how wonderful that gift truly was and continues to be. And it's helping me embrace the waiting and the unknown of my own pregnancy.
As we wait together this Advent season for the coming King, may you be reminded that he is bigger and better and more beautiful than we can prepare for, that he is bringing more amazing change than we can imagine, and that one day the wait will finally be over.