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.