I read today that stories infuse the ordinary with meaning and the tragic with truth. As a midwife, I long to share the beautiful details of the many births I am privileged to attend. I always say I’ll write a book someday, when so much time has lapsed that the details blur and no one will recognize themselves within my narration. There is such great beauty in what we do, watching God’s glory unfold, witnessing the vulnerability of fathers, their tenderness and tears, and the courage, as women become mothers. It is no exaggeration to say I am in awe each and every time a precious baby emerges from its mother.
As a mother myself, I appreciate the gratitude one has for their birth attendant, but let me be quite clear, that appreciation does not compare to how honored we are to be part of your journey. Every single woman who has crossed my path has made an impression on me, and has taught me about relationships, sacrifice, dedication, and grace. I am still learning, and growing as a midwife, as a woman and mother, a wife, and most importantly, a child of God. Today I wanted to share my thoughts about Mary, the mother of Jesus, and hope they touch your heart, infusing your ordinary with meaning and maybe offering your tragedy some truth.
As a child, I was always a bit of a go getter. I talked too much. I was always underfoot. I joined all the clubs and everyone was a friend. It seems a bit ironic to me now that Mary was always the woman with whom I most empathized. She was so passive and seemingly submissive, hidden even, in the background. I suppose I identified with being called. It may seem like a cliche and I am certainly not comparing my own calling to the holiness of her own, but I have no doubt that I was very specifically given a heaven-endowed mission. In fact, I remember the specific day I was told to “hang on,” that He had big plans for me and as a child, I was quite certain that meant I would have a yet unrevealed super-power, and maybe even an invisible plane.
I’ve shared this story (and its more grim details) with my staff on occasion, and with humility I will share with you. I was an unwanted child. Don’t pity. There is beauty in this story. However, in truth, my mother truly despised me. She wasn’t and isn’t today a bad woman. I think she wanted to be a good mother, but she was young, from a troubled home herself, without a husband, all alone, and we were just very different temperaments.
When I was quite young, and very alone, the Lord revealed Himself to me. He was the one and only constant I had in a home that had no love and never spoke of Our Father. He was so present in my life that today, I don’t feel the absence of parents and I truly don’t have any bitterness or sorrow. I have compassion for them and appreciation that I was a challenge for them. They tried and that was enough. My truth still remains. The Lord gave me a vision of hope, a mission to live for, and He has fulfilled His promise… short the invisible plane. This life, my being a midwife, is my evolving Wonder Woman. My children, and very good-looking husband, are my amazing side-kicks. We jet out in the night, catching babies, nurturing young families, and serving our community.
Back to Mary… Gabriel announced her mission. She well understood. She trusted the path, as have I. Men would persecute her, as I too have endured. Her child would be persecuted, mocked, hated, and even crowned with thorns. Mary chose to obey.
I have shared with staff during our tougher days that this is the Lord’s practice to build up, and it’s His to tear down. What I must do is obey. There are days that I cooperate while admittedly complaining a little. I am reminded though that Mary approached her mission with a thinking mind and a sensitive heart. It is she I remember. She accepted a path that yielded both great joy and deep pain. She willingly participated, for all of her days. This very truth is my own, and will continue to be until my very last breath.
There are many lessons in such a life, one with a clear mission. There is never question that the Lord is near. He has proven to be my counselor, my friend, my comfort, my teacher, my Father, and while not biblical, I think He has a little comedian in Him as well. Our relationship is intimate and for that, I will forever be grateful – quite literally, Amen!
Obedience draws us into God’s heart, away from the world’s influences. The midwifery career is set apart. It isn’t entirely accepted by society. Although the profession has grown tremendously in the last few decades, we’re still a joke to many. Any shame however, is replaced by righteousness. The obedience He demands however, navigates us through complexities that are difficult to comprehend outside the profession. Midwives are frequently faced with scenarios that demand a loyalty that challenges the “standard of care,” or man’s approval. We obey and respond, “Yes, Lord, I will do that. I will educate, counsel, and support by client in the face of persecution, and even possible prosecution.” There have been times that I have also had to obey and draw boundaries which caused upset to my client. These are most difficult to me, because I want to please, but I remind myself, I am not working for man.
The work of a midwife largely goes unrecognized, as it should be. We are hidden. It is our goal to empower women, couples, families – not to make them depend on us. We need not reap rewards here, but rather, as Mary did, store up each precious moment in our heart. Mary knew her mission helped shine light in an ever-darkening world. We seek to be that light too. We seek to offer choice, protection, compassion, and mercy while recognizing our duty is to do so with the greatest of wisdom.
Mary told the angel, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.”
As I seek to better understand and practice obedience, may these become my own words. May I continue to store up sweet memories in my heart and be reminded of them during the toughest days. May I continue in faith. Cindi, Kristi, and all my midwifery sisters in faith, let this be an encouragement to you. We are so very blessed.