Recently, a good friend of mine was asking myself and my husband about how we get through the challenging period of early pregnancy with morning sickness. He was asking on behalf of some other friends of his who were in the midst of it, just as we were. The wife felt ill and fatigued most of the time and therefore was unable to help much around the house and with their other young child. The husband was feeling overwhelmed on having to handle everything himself.
Unfortunately, I felt like I didn’t really have any useful advice other than to say “Realize this won’t last forever and try to just get through it.” I think this period is quite challenging for many couples. Even for myself, who has experienced four miscarriages with pregnancies in which I felt little or no morning sickness, the time of morning sickness is difficult to get through, despite my gratitude at experiencing it.
Though I probably didn’t offer much help to my friend, I feel he offered great help to my husband and me simply by asking the question that he did. As I hardly left the house in the early months of pregnancy, my world was feeling quite small at that time. My friend’s simple inquiry reminded me that indeed the world is bigger than my front door and that there are other couples going through the exact same thing as my husband and me.
After that, as the weeks went on and I spent much of my time on the couch with a bucket within arms reach, I would think about the woman, whose name I didn’t even know, in the nearby town who was likely doing the same thing as I was. I mean, of course at any given time there are numerous women around the world experiencing morning sickness, and their partners feeling stressed by it, but there was something particularly helpful to know of one specific woman who was going through the same thing. Although I felt pretty isolated, I really wasn’t alone.
Elizabeth Ministry founder Jeannie Hannemann often speaks of the examples that Zechariah and Elizabeth were to Joseph and Mary. Zechariah went against the cultural expectation to leave his barren wife on the side of the road to die of heat exhaustion and dehydration, and chose instead to affirm her dignity as a person and as a woman apart from her ability to bear a child. Elizabeth too knew what it was like to be shunned by others and considered a sinner, something that Mary had every reason to expect to be in her own future. Elizabeth knew too what it was like to have her life in danger, as Mary’s life was now in. It depended upon Joseph’s choice, whether he would expose her and have her stoned to death, or to keep her shameful secret. Yet, Elizabeth was also an example of a woman who had done the will of God and lived. Perhaps Zechariah was an example to Joseph as he took on his role as protector of Mary and Jesus. Joseph did not follow the law and have Mary stoned. He did not expose her to shame. He took her into his home and became her husband and became Jesus’ father.
As we all go about our daily lives, with all their joys and struggles, and as many of us feel the burden of being counter-cultural, let us remember of the good example we may be giving to others in simply trying to live our lives in faith and with grace, and may we remember too, that we are never truly alone. Even though it may not feel like it at the time, may we try to realize that others are experiencing the same joys and struggles that we are.