First-trimester: The blessing of weakness

I’ve just recently come through {survived} the first trimester of my third pregnancy, and while I am so thankful that this precious life is growing inside of me, I think it’s been the most challenging one yet. When I was pregnant with John Wicks, I shared some of the funnier parts of first-trimester pregnancy, and some parts were similar this time. Like the crazy food aversions and hilarious, unhealthy cravings. I drove through Jack’s for burgers, ate dill pickle spears with La Croix snow cones made in my blender, and stopped to get take-out Mexican food on the way to Chick-fil-A with my family. I sent Adam out for biscuits and orange juice at 9 pm at night and drove him crazy with my indecisiveness about food choices. But, if I’m really being honest, the first trimester season was a lot harder than it was funny. I felt moody and nauseous and very, very tired almost all the time. Viruses, ear infections, and a sinus infection in addition to pregnancy sickness left me spending a lot of time in bed. And the hardest part wasn’t necessarily the sickness itself but the weakness—the inability to accomplish the things that needed to be done, much less all the things I wanted to get done. First-trimester pregnancy was a time of vulnerability. A time of becoming painfully aware of my limits. And I really didn’t like that one little bit. In fact, it often got me a little worked up and stressed.

I think the sickness is finally beginning to ease now, but I still need more rest than normal. I still cannot accomplish as much each day as I would like. And I’m finally realizing how important it is for me to evaluate what’s at the heart of my constant frustration and stress over my heightened weakness during this particular season. Why is it so hard for me to slow down…to rest…to let the laundry get out of hand…to let my kids watch more TV…to read less and sleep more…to intentionally do less in this season and to be ok with that? I don’t like facing my limits and vulnerability because I thrive on achievement and accomplishment. Almost nothing makes me feel better than checking things off the to-do list and feeling like I’ve had a productive day. Almost nothing makes me feel worse than feeling behind, overwhelmed, and unable to catch up. While being driven and productive are good things–God-given qualities that will aid in my work for his Kingdom–my  joy, peace and satisfaction each day cannot be wrapped up in them. I must not bow down to the false god of human accomplishment.

 I must not find my hope in what I can accomplish each day; rather, I must always find my hope in what has already been accomplished on my behalf through the blood of Jesus Christ.

In a recent podcast, I heard Paul Tripp make the following statement: “Generally it’s not my weakness that gets me in trouble, it’s my delusions of strength. The Bible is all about the beauty of God’s grace for the weak. In fact, you could argue that there is no such thing ever considered in Scripture as human autonomy and human self-sufficiency. I’m neither independent nor self-sufficient.”

It’s counter cultural to affirm and embrace weakness, but the Bible is clear that God’s grace is for the weak. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.” It’s those who recognize their spiritual bankruptcy and acknowledge their need for God’s help who receive the Kingdom.

When I feel strong and able and accomplished, it’s easy to believe the lie that I’m autonomous and self-sufficient. And it’s easy to slip into idolatry without even realizing it–to begin worshipping my productivity and thereby begin worshipping myself. But the truth is, I am not God. I need God. I need a helper. Through Christ, God is my salvation and my help in all things, even the seemingly small tasks of this life that I so often toil and strive to accomplish in my own power and strength. And God is much more concerned with the holiness of my heart than in what I get done each day.

I know that many aspects of bearing children {or being unable to bear children or losing children or struggling with rebel children} are hard because of the fall and because of sin. But I am thankful that our sovereign and good God is able to bring beauty out of pain and difficulty and hardship. He uses seasons of weakness for good by revealing our frailty against the backdrop of His sufficient strength and abundant grace. He uses frustration with our limits to expose misdirected worship and to turn our hearts back to the only One worthy of our worship. He continues to bring life–both physical and spiritual–in spite of the curse of the sin. He uses the gift of pregnancy to teach us much about our hearts. “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

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