“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” – Romans 8:37
Victimhood is a voice that’s been speaking to me over the last few months. I didn’t realize it until two days ago.
I finally looked at the birth photos from Evelyn’s birth, and I cried because of how raw and scary it all still felt. The shot of the videos is straight from behind, with me on my knees. Exposing and real. Which was exactly how all of the memories felt in my head. Gripping and raw. I didn’t want my husband to look at the photos with me. Even though he had already seen them, and even though he was right there in the moment to catch our baby the moment she came. I felt vulnerable and I kept the video muted because I wasn’t ready to hear the battle cries. Afterward I talked to Bryan about all of the feelings that the photos brought up and he called me on it: I was talking about it like it was something to be mourned.
Yesterday I had an appointment with my midwife and she called me on it, too. She had read the birth story I had written down and was struck by how disappointed I sounded. What she saw from the outside was not what I had described. She saw a beautiful and peaceful birth. And a beautiful and healthy baby. The same thing Bryan saw. The same thing my mom saw. Where was the disconnect? Even as I looked back through my memories to the labor I remember saying, “this is so much easier than last time” and “I feel so in control of my body.” But there was a lie that creeped in in the end when pushing was more painful than I imagined and it flavored my whole memory. I had become a victim of my birth experience. It was something that happened to me. And even as I look in the mirror at my body, I find myself asking, “what happened to me?”
And I started to recognize a pattern.
This last week I’ve been potty training Othniel. It’s been harder than I was expecting, and Wednesday I found myself sitting at my kitchen table sobbing. We were three days in and I felt like we were making no progress at all. Othniel had just gotten up from the potty chair only to poop on the floor, step and slip in it and end up covered in crap. I was home by myself and wishing desperately that someone else would show up to take care of it. I felt at the end of myself as I forced him back on the potty, yelled at him to stay there and tried to clean up the mess. Afterwards I sat down and cried and I found myself saying things like, “This is more than I bargained for!” and “Motherhood is seriously not for the faint of heart.”
The pattern is this: something challenging (sometimes very challenging) comes up and I feel like a victim of my circumstances. I find myself repeating phrases like, “I’m exhausted,” and “I just couldn’t get a break today.”
Two days ago I started asking myself, what happened to being more than a conquerer? I used to come home dead-tired at the end of a long work day and my dad would say, “Some people work hard and complain that they are tired, I think it’s better to say, ‘Doesn’t it feel good to work until you’re tired? It means you really got something done today!'”
One voice says, “Look what’s happened to me,” and the other one says “Look what I conquered.”
Life is going to have mountains to climb. It just is. But I don’t want to sit around feeling like a victim when I can feel like more than a conquerer through Christ. And nothing has to change except my mindset.
On the potty training note, I’ve changed my outlook. And realize how ridiculous it is not to expect poop on the floor when you take the diaper off of your little boy for the first time. I also invested in a different potty training book and we’ve started seeing happy progress.
And I’ve changed the way that I’m going to look at those birth photos. I accomplished something unbelievable that day.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.