Help in the hard times

By SASHA JOHNS | Community Columnist

I couldn’t help but smile when my community group facilitator started talking about comparing suffering to childbirth labor this Sunday. As a trained labor doula and woman who gave birth naturally four times (we lost one), this is a kind of suffering I’m deeply intimate with.

Right now we are really only a first-time mom in pre-labor. Things are uncomfortable. We think we are suffering, but really we are only uncomfortable. We’re figuring out how to breathe. We’re not sure what to expect or how bad the pain will be.
We can hear the mom down the hall (Italy), and her suffering scares us. We can tell her labor isn’t going well. The pains are going to get worse before they get better. Natural birth seems to last an unnaturally long time, but it always lasts as long as it needs to in reality. I don’t say these things to scare you but to prepare you. (Because I’m a doula.)
In natural labor, every pain and every contraction is doing work. It has purpose. God designed it and it works beautifully. The hard part is letting it hurt. As crazy and as counter-intuitive as it sounds, letting it hurt allows labor to progress faster. But it’s so important to have support during the hurt.

Ya’ll, God doesn’t promise to take our hurt away. He promises to be with us while it hurts. We have to trust Him to be with us, and to let the pain do its work, because it does have work to do.

Romans 8:26 tells us that when all we can do is groan and sigh, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us. He intercedes and advocates for us. That is going to be a paramount verse to remember as the next two to three weeks play out. That’s what a doula does. A doula stays with the woman she serves. A doula holds her and reminds her she’s not alone, and that she can breathe when she may have forgotten that she can. A doula acts as an advocate for the mother she serves, telling her doctors what she needs emotionally, and occasionally, physically, in order to keep going.
At the risk of sounding cheesy, the Holy Spirit is our doula. But because we can’t always see the Holy Spirit, He often works through His people, and prepares us to be doulas too. I feel like we are all first-time moms in this (even you guys), but we are all, as believers, equipped with the Holy Spirit to be doulas to each other.

I love you all. Take a deep breath in. Then let it out through your mouth. Know that when it gets hard, God is with us. In us. Advocating for us. And celebrating and mourning with us, and teaching us how to walk each other through this.