I am about-to-pop pregnant. That’s an actual medical term.
This picture is not me. This is a stock image of a beautiful pregnant woman from canva.com. If you look at my bio picture and then imagine that I ate this woman, that’s pretty much what I actually look like these days.
Due at the end of Lent, this season has been particularly uncomfortable because of normal end of pregnancy issues that come with housing another human in one’s body. I didn’t think it could get much more sacrificial than offering my life for our newest little one. (Cue the waving like a British royal and smug smiling.) Here I am, look at me, the picture of Lenten sacrifice.
Turns out it could.
In a season when I’m finding it hard to tote around our toddler or even just get up out of a chair independently, my husband broke his wrist.
I hadn’t realized how much I relished my crown as queen of Lenten sacrifice until there was a threat being dethroned.
See, the world knows that I’m uncomfortable. My kids can see how hard it is to get down on the floor and change the probably-should-start-on-potty-training-soon toddler’s diaper. It’s like I get credit for loading the kids up and unloading them at swimming lessons. My sacrifice is visible, like a Pharisee in torn sackcloth on a street corner. Since everything hurts, pretty much my whole day is a giant opportunity for “offering it up.”
It took my husband’s injury to show me just how much I enjoy that visible suffering.
All the sudden, scooping the driveway or washing the dishes became a big sacrifice—for him. And although he has never shirked or sighed the way I have, I can see how ever-present the pain is. He has to work through it to accomplish the tasks necessary to our daily life. We are twinsies in our uncomfortableness. He does a lot less literal groaning and moaning about it, though.
Oh, the feelings of resentment that bubbled up in me. I’m the sore one! I’m the one doing big things for the souls in purgatory! But— it was more than losing my crown. I appreciated being able to pawn off picking up dried play doh off the floor or unloading the dishwasher because bending over bites the big one right now. It. All. Just. Hurts.
Having competition for “the one in the most pain” means I’m being called to help share my husband’s burden. The tables have turned, and I’m being asked how I can help him, even from my own place of weakness. And that’s much harder than being the one that everyone fetches things for because I’m pregnant.
Turns out it’s more of a sacrifice to squelch the urge to tell him to “suck it up, Buttercup” than to deliver clean laundry around the house. Turns out the Lent I had planned and the Lent I ended up living don’t quite look the same.
Several bloggers have talked about how this season is a favorite time because the sacrifice, extra prayer, and giving, leads to spiritual growth. It’s not hard to see how sometimes that translates into Catholics getting a bad rap for being too caught up in suffering. Unfortunately it can be easy to get focused on the penance and forget that “we are an Easter people.” Although this time of Lent can be fruitful, it’s only fruitful in the context of embracing what’s to come.
Easter is just around the corner, and it doesn’t matter what we’re doing to prepare if it’s not done with our hearts in the right state. Too bad for my husband that he had to break his wrist to drive that lesson home for me. Sorry, honey.
In just a few weeks we should both be getting to the end of our discomfort and ready to embrace the new life and New Life of Easter this year. That gives us both a little more time to live the Lent we’ve been given as best we can.