grant that I may not so much
seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love..."
-St. Francis of Assisi
A friend of mine posted this part of The Prayer of St. Francis on his blog earlier, and as I read it this morning while sipping my coffee, I had an epic-ly gargantuan revelation.
Something along the lines of: I tooootally suck at this.
And: This is the kind of heart attitude that makes a great marriage.
If ever there was a prayer that I have needed to be praying lately, it's this. A prayer of selflessness and not feeling entitled to things simply because you think you deserve them.
Case in point: I'm pregnant. Very much so pregnant. And lately, an attitude has crept in to my heart that tells me I deserve some sort of special treatment. Now... while, on the outside, this sounds completely innocent and can even be a healthy thing to expect while expecting ("let me lift that 50lb box for you, dear!"), I have allowed this attitude to quickly turn into bitterness in my heart when I don't feel every one of my needs being met. I have allowed it to turn into resentment. I have thrown a big pity party and imagined every other pregnant woman in the world being fussed over and dotted upon while I feel like the "same old emery." I have cried. I have let it drive a wedge between me and the one I love most.
And you know what else I realized in thinking through all this? Just because my body is the only one that's physically changing during this time, that doesn't mean my family's entire lives aren't changing as well. I'm not the only one in this equation. I'm not the only affected party these long nine months.
I have been seeking consolation without offering any.
I have been seeking understanding without offering any.
I have been expecting love without opening my arms.
Pregnancy is a very special time, for sure. But part of me wonders if our society hasn't built it up to an unhealthy place in some ways... telling women they should be sitting on a pedestal the entire time and elevated to a queen-like status. This just doesn't seem completely right to me. Women should be cherished during this time, for sure, but do we have a right to demand it? To expect cherishing without offering it in the same amount to those around us?
Pregnancy should be a time of strengthening the love between your husband and yourself, shouldn't it? How do you strengthen love? One way: Selflessly. By laying your life down for the other over and over again. Because when that baby gets born, there's gonna be some big changes... and any love will take a whopping after months of 3AM feedings, to be sure. Doesn't seem like a good time to go and isolate yourself, right?
I don't know. This suddenly feels controversial, so maybe I'll just leave it at that for now.
All I know is that, for me personally, I haven't been doing a very good job at keeping my eyes focused on the people around me more than I've kept them focused on myself. (Don't they call this 'navel-gazing'? How very appropriate, as my navel is increasingly hard to miss these days...)
So, this prayer will definitely be on my lips as I go through my days from this point forward, because, to me, it feels like good love. And good love is what I promised to give... what I aim to give... and most importantly- what I have first received freely from the Author of love himself.