Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Woman and The Serpent



At just about 9 months pregnant (I'll be full term on Monday!), I think I'm only now becoming able to articulate the thought that's been swirling around in my head for the past few months.  Over the summer, I started to notice a more and more frequent sense of heaviness on my heart.  Maybe part of it was the insanity of a 300 mile move and the temptation to despair when a lot of details Andrew and I had planned and anticipated ended up falling through or changing, but I think there's been something else at work, too.

Way back in the early days of this blog, I wrote about my first encounter with spiritual warfare during my engagement.  During the year I worked as a chastity speaker while planning my wedding, my purity came under attack big time.  I realized something that year, and I'm realizing it again now: Satan's enmity for woman, the hatred that began in the Garden, affects brides in a certain way.  Authentic beauty and purity shine so clearly in comparison to the lies of artifice and lust that the world packages and presents to us, so why wouldn't the evil one strike constantly at our sense of beauty when it goes to the core of who we are?  It can be so easy sometimes to feel like your weight and your looks aren't enough, and chastity before marriage can be such a battle.

A few years later, I'm feeling some of the same attacks on who I am as a woman.  I really have been blessed with a healthy and pretty easy pregnancy, but it's still hard, more and more often, not to feel huge and clumsy when I can't get out of the car or sit up in bed without help, not to be frustrated with my increasingly limited wardrobe and my belly when I look at magazines and clothes catalogs, and not to hate the stretch marks that suddenly started zebra-ing their way down one of my legs.  I need to remind myself often (and, thanks be to God, I'm constantly reminded by my sweet, affirming, and truthful hubby) that regardless of how I'm feeling physically or how I perceive my appearance, my body is doing something amazing and something beautiful in growing and caring for our son before he's even born.  I have a really strong sense that it's the same way the evil one came after me when I was engaged; authentic womanhood and motherhood are such enemies of his.

Engaged ladies?  Mamas?  Do you ever feel this way?  Being a bride and being a mother can come with such a spiritual struggle when you're down on yourself.  All of it goes back to Our Lady, I think.  She is a perfect bride, virginal, beautiful, and completely integrated in her body and soul, and a perfect mother, a holy dwelling place for the Lord.   So Satan's constantly after her, and her children, but of course, she can't be touched.  If only it were that easy for us...

I love statues of Mary where she's crushing the head of the serpent beneath her feet.  As hard as it is, and as resistant as I have to admit I usually am, I know that clinging to her during my times of self-doubt and attack are graces in themselves.  Please pray for me.  Even as I wrote this post over the last few days, I had a hard time, not with being honest but with just feeling peace.  I noticed a greater sense of impatience and frustration with myself and even a feeling of self-loathing and despair for feeling that way in the first place; it's a feeling I know wasn't of the Lord.

St. Maximilian Kolbe wrote, "to come closer to her, to become like her, to permit her to reign over our hearts and our whole being, that she live and ace in us and through us, that she love God with our hearts, and we belong to her unreservedly; this is our Ideal.  That her life might grow deeper in us from day to day, from hour to hour, from moment to moment, and without limits: This is our Ideal."  Amen.   


6 comments:

  1. I'll be praying for you! You looked absolutely beautiful last weekend! I'm sure such a drastic change to your body in only 9 months must be a challenge, but rejoice in what your body is doing! So soon, you'll have a baby boy in your arms to help remind you of why you are doing all this!

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  2. Truth, same thing here. Hormones don't help, but I have found that any time I take a step closer to God, the evil one seems ready and waiting...we've learned to almost expect and be on the watch for it...just another opportunity to let grace win!

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  3. Stephanie, I had this interesting experience of connecting first time pregnancy and childbirth and early motherhood with a certain sadness (surfacing occasionally amdist the more frequent joys and adjustments and elation and exhaustion typically associated therewith!) - and I came to identify it as grieving, which probably sounds weird - but I think in a very real way (and this is backed up in Scripture), it is a time when we can share very truly in the consequences of the fall, and grieve for our sins. I do NOT want this to come off sounding heavier (ok, I know, it's like, the heaviest of topics) than it has to or to SUGGEST it as meditation - rather, I occasionally found myself kind of mildly grieved in my soul, and I was like, what is this? And I had someone quote to me the passage, curiously, asking why Scripture says a woman who is in childbirth grieves or is sad? Why, they asked, does it not say yells or writhes or whatever, but rather sadness? This was shortly after I'd had my son N, so I thought back and hadn't labeled it such - but for me, allowing the life the space and suffering it needs in our bodies puts us in touch with the personal reality of the cross in such a real way - not just because of suffering, but because of the idea of self-giving that another might BE (what Christ did - and in an analogous way, what we do in parenthood), and therefore the requirement of that act is kenosis, which requires the grieving of all things self-originating and any attachments which could stand in the way of total self-gift to this "other" (the child). So as you "become" a mom, there are things to grieve - often small things, but your way of being is completely reoriented. I don't think this applies to some but not others who are better disposed or something - no - I think it is the fundamental and personal shift that necessarily takes place as we allow ourselves to become this deeper vessel of Love in the world.

    I think the things you speak of are definitely challenges - and spiritual attack can certainly creep in - but I share that reflection because I came to see that N brought out things in me and in life that I never would have seen before, and I saw just how precious and costly the gift of one single life really is. It's like, things I could take lightly before I could not take lightly anymore. And that deepening awareness of how much things matter made me sad for my previous silliness and self-centeredness - the kind we are all born with that has to be gradually melted away to unveil the real truth of what life is about.

    This might not relate at all to what you are experiencing right now, but I share it as you undergoing that transition in a very real way and so much is at work in you I'm sure! I'll be interested to hear some of your insights and observations as your son is born! It is an amazing time. I'm certain the Blessed Mother and Holy Spirit will guide you every step of the way.

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  4. This makes perfect sense. Satan wants to destroy what is beautiful and good. Motherhood is so amazing (in whatever form), and so are the vocations God calls women to. Prayers for you as you approach meeting your little guy and dig deeper in this.

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  5. I find in times like these that remembering what is truth and what is a lie is very helpful. So often when I am bogged down in emotion all I have to do is realize the lies that I am embracing and reject them, and half the battle is won.
    You're in my prayers!

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    1. "Half the battle is won..." you're right! Thanks so much for your prayers!

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