Alyssa M. Rodriguez raises her daughter, Zulema, in Iowa City, Iowa, where she coordinates a free health clinic for children and attends First Mennonite Church.
“Long has he been silent; he has restrained himself. But now he will give full vent to his wrath; he will groan and cry like a woman delivering her child. He will level the mountains and hills and blight their greenery. He will dry up the rivers and pools. He will bring blind Israel along a path they have not seen before. He will make the darkness bright before them and smooth and straighten out the road ahead. He will not forsake them.” (Isaiah 42:14-16, TLB)
Somehow, right before my eyes, the important days leading up to commemorating our Messiah’s birth have passed.
Maybe it has something to do with my rambunctious toddler tugging at my pant leg, or maybe it is that I constantly—whether I want to or not—feel tuned into the terrible things that take place everyday, everywhere: the undertones of global warming in the absence of snow outside my window; racism and fear of the other streaming as a constant message across all mediums that challenges me to radically love myself and others like (and unlike) me; and much more.
But realizing that the Messiah’s birth is just days away takes me back to not too long ago when I labored and experienced a delivery of my own.
Reluctantly, I can still place myself in that hospital room. I can hear my screams that came after months of silent wondering. How painful will it be? How different will life become? Will I be able to do it? Why me? Why now?
I can remember the pain that at unrestrained levels as nurse Ashley stood at my side, describing the peaks and pitfalls of my baby’s heartbeat and directing my own breathing as best she could amidst the noise.
The delivery of my baby completely rocked my world.
The tiny being that I birthed reset my notion and expectations of the enormous world I brought her into, as I am sure was true for Elizabeth and Zachariah and Mary and Joseph.
Her tiny presence is divine—omnipresent—and a constant reminder of the straightened and smoothed out path that was created as she was born—a path that led to fullness.
When doubt rises up in me as I raise and nurture my daughter outside the womb, my continued prayer is for provision. This prayer comes from a renewed place of faith made possible through her presence, even on busy mornings when she wraps my legs up in her arms, keeping me from the daily tasks ahead.
Today, with my one-and-a-half year old daughter, the unrestrained memories of my labor pains remain as I shape the voice I am reclaiming for myself and for her and decide how I treat others and relate to those with tiny people like mine.
The delivery of this divine being has allowed me to take a new path. I invite you to capitalize on the opportunity to do the same as our time for remembering Jesus’ delivery approaches.
Alongside Jesus’ birth, may we remember John’s praises in Psalm 113 and Elizabeth’s in Luke 1 as testaments to God’s faithfulness. As I think about the birth story of our Messiah, I hope that a new outlook can be delivered to us amidst the ongoing barrenness and uncertainty of today.
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