Spiritual Midwives

I have 5 kids. Well, they aren’t kids anymore; my oldest is 26 and the twins are now 18. When I play the game “2 Truths and a Lie” I always have a good one because I delivered all 5 of them naturally, with no pain meds (not always my choice, ha ha). Honestly, though, I attribute this to having midwives deliver 4 out of 5 of them. The love, care, nurturing and support I received through the entire process made all the difference.

My birthing midwives were gentle, strong, nurturing, challenging, present, wise, compassionate, and patient in a time of a lot of pain.

A chunk of years ago a friend shared that I had been her “spiritual midwife” during a season of spiritual shifting, big pain, and change in her life.

Her use of the word spiritual midwife has stuck with me ever since.

With so many people in the thick of painful and brutal faith shifts, we need patient guides, people to hold our hands and remind us to breathe, people who recognize and respect the birthing-something-new process who don’t try to rush it or numb it out.

We need more spiritual midwives.

While there are many exceptions, the typical Western doctor medical model seems to often align with some of our typical Christian experiences.  It’s far more common for people experiencing faith shifts to hear things from family and well-meaning friends like: “You just need to…(insert all kinds of unhelpful quick-fix things)”, “When are you going to be done being angry?” “This is just a phase,” “Have you tried….(insert all kinds of additional unhelpful things)” in an effort to relieve the pain of doubts, questions, and spiritual shifts as quickly as possible.

For many, without the proper support, some of the following things can happen:

  1. The pain gets too great so we slowly migrate back to what is comfortable and familiar related to church and faith even though it doesn’t bring life or hope anymore.
  2. We gut it out alone.
  3. By the end of it all we are so worn out, beat up, and lonely that every shred of faith is gone.

 

Midwives understand the process of giving birth. They understand it takes time, it’s going to hurt, and that there are certain things we can do to hang on through the pain but that there’s no way around it.

Most people I am connected to here and in other spaces are shifting in their faith, longing to give birth to something new but not knowing what’s going to emerge.  There’s a lot of fear, confusion, loneliness, and pain in the season of Unraveling. While no one can do the work for us, it is definitely better to have others along the way who can help guide, nurture, and remind us that it won’t be like this forever–that something beautiful and wonderful can, indeed, emerge from the pain.

We need spiritual midwives, men and women, who:

  • Remind us not to rush the process. I have seen many people who want to move quickly through the pain of a shifting faith or a hard story and get to a new place too quick. The road toward something new is long, agonizing, and often tiring, and we need that honest reminder.
  • Let us express our pain instead of numb it. Spiritual midwives will listen to our anger, fear, venting, hurt, angst and not expect it to go away right away. They understand that raw honesty is helpful instead of pretending or numbing out and losing touch with what’s really going on inside. They trust at some point we’ll stop yelling and crying.
  • Hold our hand and tell us to breathe. I have some amazing friends who have stuck with me through all the nuttiness of my journey. They won’t let go of me. They return my phone calls and hold me when I cry. They gently point me toward what’s good, what’s beautiful, what’s hopeful but without telling me what I should do or how I should do it.
  • Help us see the beauty in the process even when we aren’t looking so beautiful. Giving birth, while beautiful in countless ways, can also be rough, hard, and ugly. We need midwives who help celebrate the beauty of the unfolding story, of what’s emerging, of what God is doing us in the midst regardless of how messy we might look at the moment.
  • Know if we hang on long enough and see the process through, something new will be born that will need nurturing, love, and care. There is a point in faith shifts where the pushing is over, it doesn’t hurt anymore, and a new chapter begins to be born. However, like a newborn baby, our fragile faith needs food, tenderness, and love; it can’t survive without it. The new things surfacing in us spiritually need special tending to so that they can become healthy and strong over time.

This metaphor has many facets to it, but that’s a start.

We need more spiritual midwives.

I truly believe that when Jesus tells Nicodemus in John 3 that we must be “born again” that there’s much more to it than just eternal salvation in the way so many of us were taught.

I’m grateful our faith will need to be reborn again and again over the course of our journey.

It’s why we need companions and guides along the way who will help us see the the possibility that can emerge if we bravely stay with it, men and women who help us trust that something new, something good, is coming even when we can’t yet believe it.  

We need more spiritual midwives.

May we find them.

May we be them for others.

* * * * *

ps: Faith Shift is a bit of a spiritual midwife, but If you need some human spiritual midwife referrals from afar, I have a few. Message me and I’ll pass on their information. Every situation is different, but I am grateful to know some wise and honest guides.

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