A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. (John 16:21 NIV)
The morning after my daughter was born my sister-in-law came to the hospital to visit me and my husband and to meet our new little girl.
“How was it?” she asked me.
“What?” I asked in return. I had been eating breakfast at the time, so I thought maybe she was inquiring about my meal.
“Labor,” she retorted, looking at me as if perhaps I had lost my mind (which reminded me of my modesty I had already lost while giving birth).
“Labor?” I was still confused. Does it really require an explanation? Is there any other answer?
“Yes, labor,” she patiently repeated.
“PAINFUL!” This was all I could say at that moment. And besides if there was ever one word that described labor that would be it.
“Well, you know,” she continued, “as time goes by you will forget the pain and go on to have other children.” While I could appreciate her words of encouragement, these words of wisdom were coming from someone who had not experienced childbirth herself.
“I won’t be forgetting,” I announced, “and I’m never doing THAT again.”
The morning after my “natural” childbirth experience the pain was still fresh in my mind. At that point I could not imagine voluntarily subjecting myself to labor ever again. Forgetting the anguish of childbirth would take some time, but from the very first moments of my daughter’s life the thrill of holding her in my arms brought me incredible joy.
My daughter was such a vivacious little girl so full of joy that it seemed to burst from her. Very curious about her world, soon after mastering “mama” and “dada” one of her first words was “GO!” This was quickly followed by “outside.” During our outdoor adventures throughout her childhood years, she found such delight in God’s creation. Stretching out her arm, she pointed to the “bright blue” sky with its “white puffy” clouds that she thought looked like “cotton candy.” She collected bouquets of “sooo pretty” flowers, some growing out of the weeds from our yard. With great excitement she showed me the “shiny rocks” she had discovered while sifting through her sand box. Both the flowers and the rocks I proudly displayed at the kitchen window. Now as I glanced outside, I couldn’t help but notice how blue the sky really was. Sharing in my daughter’s exuberance, I rediscovered the world through her eyes. I have often said that if I had to choose another name for her, it would be “Joy.”
Today my daughter is grown, a happily married woman, but the lessons she taught me about joy will remain with me forever. Now as I sit in my own garden, I delight even more in God’s creation. Scattered throughout are an assortment of flowers in bloom—each one a brilliant expression of God’s beauty, each one promising to delight. A single rose bears witness of our creator, too beautiful for any other explanation. I can be quiet here, away from the busyness of my day. There is no conflict; there is no pain—only peace and beauty grow here. Like the very first garden, this is where I come to walk along side my God. Throughout my day I talk with God, but this is where I listen best.
In my garden is a metal plaque tarnished by the rain and sun which is made more beautiful by its weathered Verdi finish. Its stake is pushed deep into the soil and written on it are words I have found to be true:
“The kiss of the sun for pardon, the song of birds for mirth, one is nearer God’s heart in a garden, than anywhere else on earth.”
Like my garden which changes over the seasons, so did my feelings about childbirth change over time. I did eventually forget the anguish of labor. Just as scripture says, a woman will forget her anguish because of her joy. I’m evidence of this truth, having had four children in all. While each one of my children is precious and each one unique, I find it impossible to love one more than the other. But as for my first little one, well … she is my Joy.
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