My husband recently asked me how I understand my main identity right now. The ‘proper’ or perhaps ‘correct’ answer is that I’m a daughter of God first, and everything else flows from that. But if I’m being honest, that isn’t how it feels.
By the end of pregnancy, I told him, it becomes – at least for me – almost impossible to identify as anything but ‘pregnant’ as my primary identity, with other things (mom, wife, daughter, etc.) flowing from being pregnant. It is physical: by the end, I feel so, so pregnant. I haven’t seen my feet, at least while standing, in months. Getting dressed can be a comical task. Simple things you take for granted become much more difficult the more pregnant you get.
Then there’s the emotional and social side. Going out invariably brings about people’s comments, looks, and straight up stares. I’ve written plenty about this before, but you can imagine what it is like to walk around and be pregnant. It is, almost without exception, the first thing anyone asks you about when you are out in public. Between how I feel and people’s comments and looks, it is no wonder that I feel like my identity is more ‘pregnant being who happens to also be a person’ rather than ‘person/daughter/wife/mom who happens to be pregnant’.
In all honesty, I think that is why, by about week 34, I’m ready to be done being pregnant. I know, at least deep down, that my truest identity isn’t found in being pregnant, but it becomes increasingly difficult to remember – and live – out of that truth the bigger I get.
Even more honest? It makes me cranky that so many others seem to see me as ‘pregnant being’ first and ‘woman/wife/mother/daughter/friend’ second, if at all. That fact of ‘pregnant being first’ is the reason I dread all the questions, the endless stream of “not yet?” and “still pregnant?” and “oh my gosh, you look like you could just pop!”
Then today happened and my perspective has changed a bit. I went to Mass this morning, one of the few places I find a bit of reprieve (at least during Mass), and went up for communion – first in line. As I approached the priest he looked at me, shrugged, sighed and began to speak. I assumed, naturally, that he’d say, “Body of Christ”, give me the Eucharist, and I could go back to my pew and rest with the Lord. That, however, didn’t happen. After his sigh he said, “not yet?”
Most Catholics can’t really imagine having a full-blown conversation with the priest during communion, much less when you are the first in line. In my head I thought, “Seriously? Isn’t the answer obvious? And HERE, Jesus?! Why here?! You know how tired I am of this question” but I simply responded, “nope,” hoping to be done, receive Jesus and move on. But no.
“Are you past the due date?” the priest asked.
“Not yet,” I answered.
“Okay, that’s enough. Two questions. Please just give me Jesus. I just want Jesus. I need the Eucharist. He’s basically all that gets me through each day and there wasn’t Mass yesterday. I just want Jesus. And everyone behind me is standing and wondering what we are talking about. Please just give me Jesus.”
“So…when is the due date?” the priest continued.
“Thursday,” I replied.
“Oh, okay, so there’s still time.”
*I shrug and nod*
“Body of Christ.”
Thankful to have finally received Him, I went back to my pew and just sat. I thought of how the priest represents Jesus, how, when he celebrates Mass, he is acting in persona Christi, in the person of Christ. I fought the urge to fume, to be superbly annoyed, and instead asked Jesus my questions. Why was that necessary? You know the answers. You know how tired I am of the questions. Why would you ask? Why can’t I just receive You and move on? You are all I want, not the needlessly obvious questions.
Because you need to give Me the questions. The frustration. I know the answers. I know all of the answers. And I know you need Me, but you also need to give me the annoyance. People want answers because they care and they don’t realize they are the fifteenth person to ask you in the last 10 minutes. So give it to Me. Give me your frustration, your hurt, your annoyance, and then receive Me. Give me yourself and I’ll give you Myself.
Do I love the questions any more? Nope. Do I still get annoyed when people look at me and ask if I’m still pregnant? Yup. But I’m learning, bit by bit, moment by moment, that Jesus is with me in it all too, not just in the Eucharist, but with me, next to me, holding my hand, reminding me that I am His. Yes, I am pregnant right now, but I’m His first. I was His before I got pregnant, and I’ll be His after this baby is born. And thanks be to God He’s reminding me of my truest identity: His Beloved.