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I was a few months short of my thirtieth birthday when life came to an abrupt halt. After seven years spent teaching students with special needs, mentoring teens in the community, and investing in young lives, I was rendered immobile and completely debilitated. I fought it with all had, forcing myself to get to work, but finding myself sprawled on the dirty floor of the public restroom by noon every time I tried.
My doctor diagnosed me with hyperemesis gravidarum: severe pregnancy sickness. I was prescribed the strongest anti-nausea medication, but even with the medication, I was unable to walk across the room without dizziness that sent me running to the nearest garbage can. I finally resigned myself to take a medical leave from my teaching job and laid down my role as a mentor for a season.
Responsibilities lifted, I found myself immobile on the couch for months, and it caused me to question everything about life as I knew it. More than this, I questioned everything I thought I knew about God, and what I learned shocked me:
1.) I am relentlessly loved, regardless of my devotion
Prior to the season of illness, I attributed at least part of my worth to my performance in the area of spiritual disciplines. If I was reading my Bible, praying, and worshiping often, it seemed only logical that my worth increased. However, the inability to read, utter prayers longer than three words, or leave the couch, rendered me incapable of expressing devotion.
I encountered God’s love on that couch. I encountered it through the caring hands of friends who delivered meals and checked in through daily phone calls, a husband who gently attended to my needs, and my parents, who welcomed us into their home for a four-month stretch between the sale of our first house and the purchase of our second. The four-month stretch happened to coincide with the worst part of the sickness.
The precise orchestration of these details still stirs my heart with gratitude for God’s provision. Day after day, he poured his love upon me, encouraging me to keep going, keep eating, keep drinking, and keep pressing forward.
2.) God is faithful through the storms
I’ve walked the road of faithlessness. In my late teens and early twenties, I followed my desires and tried to walk away from God. I learned that he is faithful, even when I am faithless.
The pregnancy sickness was different. It was a storm that stripped away everything I knew about life, serving others, and love.
I lost my career, I had just moved out of my home, I was no longer serving my husband in any way, and I was completely dependent upon other people for my survival.
My mom brought water to the couch and even held the straw to my lips on the worst days. Her faithfulness was the perfect representation of God’s faithfulness. She was steady, loving, and gentle. I sensed his faithfulness through her love. In the most painful moments, hugging the toilet for the tenth straight hour in the early hours of dawn, I sensed his faithfulness. Just as promised, I lived with the strong sense that he never left my side.
3.) My performance does not determine my worth
Hours of motionless existence on the couch brought time to contemplate my priorities and my beliefs about my worth and value.
About two weeks into the sickness, it was clear to me that I had attributed much of worth to how well I was investing in the lives of others.
Mentoring dozens of teens, leading small groups, and teaching seven hours a day felt purposeful.
I believed the great purposefulness of my life added value to my worth. When it was all stripped away, when I was left alone without the ability to help anyone, I was forced to examine my true worth. The truth I encountered was this:
I am greatly valued, deeply loved, and unconditionally worthy, simply because I am a child of God.
4.) I am loved, simply because I belong to him
Bekah was born on a Tuesday, and the moment our eyes met, I knew every moment of excruciating sickness had been worth it. I remember telling a close friend that I’d willingly live the rest of my life in sickness, simply for one look into my child’s eyes. I’d never known love like that.
Encountering God’s love through the love I felt for my daughter put the months of illness in perspective. Encountering my unconditional love for my child allowed me the grasp the deepest truth hidden in the months of pregnancy sickness:
I am loved, simply because I belong to him. I don’t need to perform, excel in spiritual disciplines, or impress God. He loves me passionately, simply because I belong to him.
Bekah is six years old now. I loved being a mom so much that I willingly walked into a second pregnancy and endured hyperemesis for a second time. Caleb was born half way through Bekah’s third year of life. I love my children relentlessly. It’s a love like I’ve never experienced elsewhere, and I love them simply because they belong to me. Their obedience, performance, and even their expressions of love for me can’t lessen my love for them.
God feels this way about each one of his children.
He is calling each of us to deeper places of encountering his love. I don’t know which part of this message resonated with you today, but I know it’s a message for a generation searching for fulfillment and purpose in life. We were created to live in a love relationship with our creator. He is calling each of us deeper into his love today. The invitation is open.
About the Author: Stacey Pardoe
Stacey is a wife, mother of two, freelance journalist, mentor, and certified special education teacher. Her greatest passion is to walk closely with Christ and make his love known to the world. You can learn more about Stacy at her website, on Facebook, and Pinterest.
In this four week mini Bible Study you will examine your faith and what it means to have faith in God. When we believe in God we then learn to walk in faith and trust God. But first we must believe, and it’s up to us, we can either choose to believe in Him or not. But faith will mean nothing until we believe with all our heart that God is who He says He is.
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