Pregnant lady or pastor? Can I really be both? Can I wear both hats, and wear them well? This is the question that has haunted me over the last 9 months, especially the last few weeks of this pregnancy. Being that I am 2 days away from my due date (May 3rd) and still pregnant, my patience is thinning out, my energy level is decreasing, my compassion is dissolving, and my kindness needs a little work. I kinda wanna hide behind this teenage mutant ninja turtles mask Adeline had on in Target yesterday. I mean usually being pregnant covers you in regards to all of this. No woman “with child” is expected to be sweet and patient, but instead almost given permission to be hormonal, emotional, and irrational. “It’s okay, your pregnant, we will let it go!” This is the general attitude. But pastors too?
And to make it worse, while hormones are flying and crazy things are happening to your body, our society has perfected the art of inappropriate social interactions with pregnant women. All lines are redrawn while social acceptability is redefined, somehow. You know what I mean if you have ever been pregnant. Suddenly it is ok to comment on a random woman’s body, weight or size; often done in a large group setting, and even across gender lines. It becomes somehow socially acceptable to ask a woman (you might not even know) personal questions about herself, her body, her pregnancy. And then there is my personal favorite: the due date- birth day conversation. All you pregnant ladies (past and present) you know this one! Everyone has to tell you the day they want you to have the baby based on your due date and its correlation to either their own birthday or the birthday of their second cousin’s neighbor’s best friend. This is especially fun when it comes in the form of a request to hold out on delivering a few days past your estimated due date.
So how do I balance this pregnant lady hat with that of my pastor hat? After all, I cannot trade one in for the other, or just ignore who I am in Christ for 9 months. I still represent Jesus, don’t I? I am still asked to shine the light of Christ, aren’t I? I still have the Holy Spirit dwelling within, don’t I? And Paul is pretty clear in Galatians about the Fruits of the Spirit, aka the evidence that Christ is alive in me. He gives us a list like this: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Hmmmmmm, those seem to be the very things I, only 2 paragraphs ago, admitted are slowly slipping away.
I suppose the answer doesn’t really change does it? I mean whether we are dealing with the hormonal changes of pregnancy, the loss of a loved one, being fired from a job, or the stresses of parenting teenagers, we are talking about the same Spirit. And we are called to live by the Spirit, which produces fruit in us. Fruit that is evidence of who Jesus is, not who we are. Paul brings this home to us in Ephesians when he reminds us of this:
And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.
Even at 39 1/2 weeks pregnant, I am marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit. Even if I do not want to be. Even if I prefer to cave, to give in and take the hormonal reaction road, to turn from patience and kindness. Yes, even then I am marked. I have the Holy Spirit, my mark, my seal. When I respond to things with patience, in love, full of compassion or kindness, graciously, or even in calmness, I am showing my mark. I am demonstrating my seal and pointing to the One who seals us in his love. I am marked with a seal because I represent Jesus to the world. I stand for him when I am asked “How much weight have you gained?” or told “Wow, you are getting bigger every day.” And yes even when a strange man comes up and touches my belly without permission, I am still marked with the seal of truth, with the grace of Christ.
So, in reality it is not about digging deeper or trying harder, or rising above the comments, questions, and inappropriate social gestures. It is not about striving to be someone I am not. It is not about me at all. Instead, it is about relying on the Holy Spirit. It is about Jesus, and the evidence – the fruit- that he is alive in me. Because truth be told, he is the only one who has the patience, compassion, kindness, love, joy, gentleness, and self control we need to be able to get through our most challenging moments. He is the one who reminds me today that it is not about pastor OR pregnant lady, but it is about a pregnant pastor lady who relies on her gracious Savior to get through this day.