Friday, 14 November 2014

Emotional depth: Motherhood Level

An alternative title for this post could have been, "Things that make me cry"... I've never cried easily. In fact, there must have been whole years in which I never cried. How times change.

Happy baby
She cries a lot less
than I do
I've been crying often since giving birth. No, I'm not depressed - I'm just experiencing emotions much deeper than I ever have before. And not just in relation to my child. A few things that have made me cry lately:

  • Joy. The most surprising thing, the depth of joy I've experienced with this baby; just looking at her, watching her as she sleeps or feeds or looks wide eyed at the world, has reduced me to tears. As I talk to her and tell her how much I love her, more often than not I cry and fail to get the words out. But she doesn't seem to mind.
  • Thankfulness. The other day, baby was in her hammock and I had some cuddles with the dog when I just lost it at the sheer amount of love surrounding me - Mr. came home just then and found me in a flood of tears that I found difficult to explain.
  • Her pain. Seeing my child in pain hurts me in some ways deeper than it probably does her. She was struggling with wind for weeks and has had days of crying in pain as she strains to do poos, and eventually she would just fall asleep from sheer exhaustion. I can't help, and her pain is wounding me deeply. When she had blood taken at hospital for tests - a procedure that took minutes, not seconds, and during which she was screaming with pain and distress - I cried throughout.
  • Reading about other babies. This one is a real surprise to me. Where before I would have read an article with some interest, now I connect. The other day I read about babies who experience abdominal pain so severe, where parts of the intestine die, I saw my own baby's distress amplified and that brought on the tears.
  • Frustration. Only once in the six weeks of her life have I actually cried with frustration, but I was pushed to the point of tears after a very, very long day full of challenges and worries, when in the evening she threw a full feed back up (on me) and I knew she'd be hungry again but I felt I had nothing left. 

It's well known that pregnancy hormones make you more emotional. But hormones are neither here nor there - for me, this is part of the continuing journey of a deepening, richer emotional life: the next step. I felt the loss of my mother at age 15 extremely deeply, months of daily crying for hours until a certain numbness set in; then three years of emotional abuse in a very dysfunctional family situation taught me to protect myself by burying emotion to the point of truly not feeling it, rather than hiding or stuffing it down. As a young adult, I was truly without deep emotion: a serene inner wasteland.

Into this intruded Christianity, or rather, Christ. I had felt no draw towards religion of any kind, and emotional appeals would have gone nowhere at all with me; it was the cold, hard facts of history that (eventually and after much research) convinced my mind that the outrageous claims of Christianity were true. Other than a certain wounded pride at this discovery (having been strongly atheist) my heart and emotions just weren't involved. I was a Christian because it was the truth, not because I liked it.

But then I started to learn about this God I was now following. And one of the things about him that surprised me most was that God is deeply emotional. He is not serene and undisturbed. A few samples...

  • He dances and sings with joy - for example, Zeph. 3.17: The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. 
  • He grieves - for example Jn. 11.35: Jesus wept.
  • He can be extremely angry - for example Ps. 7.11: God is a righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation every day.
  • He is caring like a mother - for example Is. 66.13: As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you and Is. 49.15: Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!
  • He's very jealous - for example Ex. 34.14: [...] and you shall worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.
  • Love - of course, he's loving to the point of not just being willing to, but actually having died for those he loves.

I really believe that this new depth of feeling is only a taste of the depth there is, being made in His image... perhaps I'm being walked into deeper realms step by step because I'm finding it pretty overwhelming already and I just couldn't take more right now. 

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Thanks so much for sharing!