The Struggle Within
Have I ever told you that when I gave birth to my first child, our son, that I thought I was going to die? Seriously. (Now I have talked with my son about this whole scene, so don't worry that he will be traumatized for life thinking that he almost killed his mother!)
I had a difficult pregnancy (and it only got worse with pregnancy #2, but that's another story). I was so sick and weak, barely gained any weight, and at approx. my 36th week, my water broke.
Bill nervously rushed me to the hospital on a dark night, up in the mountain top town of Bethlehem New Hampshire. But then nothing happened. No labor. Nothing. By the next day, they had to induce labor because of the high risk, and the doctor thought it would take a while for me to respond to the pitocin. Ha! Bill had gone down to the cafeteria for a bite to eat, my doctor had left the hospital for his office down the street, and I was left alone in the room with a nurse who was bored. But she wasn't bored for long.
A freight train suddenly, out of nowhere, rushed through my body. I began to writhe in pain and scream. Nurses rushed in. Bill returned from the cafeteria and saw me and was frozen at the sight. They called for the doctor. They were not prepared for what happened- my body over-reacted to the small amount of pitocin in my system- and it was too late to give me an epidural for the pain. I thrashed around on the bed, screaming. I thought I was dying, and that I had to get this " freight train" out of my body!
I transitioned so quickly that they rushed me into the delivery room, and called in the pediatrician (because my baby was going to be premature and underweight). This is where I kicked the doctor in the face (I have a legitimate excuse- I was deranged with pain!). I literally forgot I was about to give birth. I just thought I was in a battle of life or death.
Several weeks later, after Alex was born at 4 lbs.14ozs , had stayed in the hospital close to a week, and was released in good health, I was at a post-natal exercise class. (What was I thinking?! I had had enough exercise in the delivery room to last me 400 years!!) I ran into a woman who compared notes with me, and realized she was in the birthing ward at the same time I was. When I explained what time I was in labor and gave birth (omitting the fact that I was shrieking the whole time) she put two and two together and said, "Oh, you were the one screaming! If that had been my first baby, you would have scared the *#&! out of me! (Sorry, but those were her exact words.)
This all leads me to my point: many forget that you have to give birth to your dream. Often we find ourselves shocked at the amount of pain it takes to bring our dreams to the point of delivery. One of the final chapters in Christine Caine's book A Life Unleashed: Giving Birth to Your Dreams has this as a chapter heading -"No Pain, No Gain". That pretty much sums it up. She explains that this stage of transitioning toward the pushing out of your dream contains intense testing.
"It's usually during this intense time of pain that we want to walk away and give up on our dreams," Caine writes.
I would have walked away from pushing out the baby if the pain hadn't been so extreme. But the answer of relief was only ONE way, sister- and that's pushing the baby out! But with dreams, we do have the option of stopping in mid point, failing to progress in labor, or closing up shop on our dream and walking away. And you think the pain will then go away?! It doesn't. It never goes away when you have walked away from the dream God has placed in your heart.
I have shared my birthing story in somewhat vivid detail to help you be sober minded about the reality of giving birth to your dreams. Jesus thought this was a good idea- letting people know the tough times ahead but also the comforting peace He provides.
"These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." JOHN 16:33
I feel like ole Aunt Agnes of the Mountain Top Revival Church when I say this: It's almost a sin to hide disturbing truth, and not prepare people for the reality of the battle. This lack of disclosure of truth is a stumbling block. When people are finally faced with the reality of the battle, they are shocked at the pain, and surprised by the arduous nature of the task. Many lose heart, abandon ship, and walk away from their dreams- or worse, the Faith.
Matthew 18:7 [Jesus said,] "Woe to the world because of stumbling blocks! Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to the one by whom the stumbling block comes!"
Romans 14:13 Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of another.
I think one reason there is SO MUCH DESPAIR AND DEPRESSION in the Church is that we have believers going through great trials, arduous journeys, cataclysmic birthing scenes, and NO ONE prepared them for the "ugly reality" of it. And they're stumbling into despair because of this.
We smile and share our triumphs, but we do not want people to know we spent the night weeping in our closet, or pacing empty moonlit streets because we could not sleep with the beast of anxiety and worry hovering over us. We don't want people to know we are scared out of our mind as we face financial constraints and a possible abortion of our dream if we can't make the next round of payments. Somehow we think these sad scenes of burdened, stressed out saints in agony are signs that we are NOT on our way to the fulfillment of our dreams.
That couldn't be farther from the truth. The struggle, the lion's den, the fiery furnace are places where dreams are pushed out. Hear this: it gets hotter and harder just as liberation and fulfillment come!
"Anytime God is about to bless you and answer your prayer, expect a struggle within..." TD Jakes writes.
So here's the good news and the bad news. Giving birth to a dream is simply the hardest, messiest, most agonizing thing you can go through - but it's WORTH IT. It IS a struggle. Ask Bruce Wilkinson, author of The Dream Giver. Ask anyone who has travailed and triumphed in the end.
Now, after all this stark reality, you've still got a dream? Good. I mean that- it really is a GOOD thing. Remember that. Because there will be days when you feel like you are cursed with having this dream, days when you feel like the weight of this dream will kill you, and days when you soar higher and higher on wings of God's grace and His enduring hope -
because you have a dream.