His Heartbeat

his heartbeat There is a certain calm that ensues the sound of the steady beating heart of a fetus.

When the contractions pick up intensity and the duration lengthens, momma is strong and daddy is staring straight into her focused eyes and together they breathe; she may be grunting or moaning or even yelling...the monitor is beeping, the nurse asking questions, and all the while the sound of the heartbeat has become lost. It is distant and unheard, not because it doesn't exist, but because the chaos of contractions is happening and surviving their intensity is all that matters. The focus shifts from Baby's heartbeat to survival mode; one contraction and then another.

But then the room goes quiet as contractions slow and phases change. The air conditioner blows fixedly, oxygen is heavily but steadily breathed in, and the constant drumming of Baby's heart pulsates through the air. Time stands still while we wait. Not all births include a long 1-2 hour pause between transition and pushing...but when it happens, a calming peace settles into the room making itself at home, letting us know that all is well. And that pulsating heartbeat..it is a lullaby rocking a weary body to sleep. But the moment the monitor goes quiet or the patterned beating is broken or the sequence skipped or an intense contraction suddenly hits bringing on chaos...all around are alerted, awake, suddenly urgent to see that all is okay, and momma can again hear the heartbeat of her Baby.

It's comforting to know that Baby is healthy, Baby is thriving, Baby is ready to breathe oxygen and enter this world. Hearing the heartbeat heals the fear, the anxiety, that was being held onto during the chaos of contractions.

I need to listen for His heartbeat.

Part of me gets so tired of reading about every single persons resolutions. Chat with me about your goals and reflections in person and I'm all about it. But post another recap of 2014 and I won't read it - except for the fact that I will. But here I am writing one. And believe me, I am this person - on December 31, 2013 I should have won the award "most overwhelming blog post and year-recap ever." When I look back at that precious post I am confident that very few if any people scrolled through that entire thing. Who wants to see 8 million and 1 photos of my life? My emerging hope is that you find something here; something for yourself and your life and your journey. Not just more of me. No one needs more of Natalie. (Except my husband).

On December 31, 2014, I watched Mocking Jay with my husband. True story: we were invited to four different awesome shebangs. But you know what the problem was? We aren't awesome. We are old souls in spry bodies. And what old soul wants to drive anywhere further than a mile after 10 pm? Plus, I was on call for two births. So we took ourselves to the Carmike Cinemas around 7 pm to watch 45 minutes of horrible previews leading up to our movie of torturous killing and violence. Rolling back home around 9:30, Loren strummed the guitar while I layed on my heat pad pondering. Thinking. Looking back.

Looking back on 2014, I saw a common theme of: Swamptness. Exhaustion. Tears. Busy. Constant-fight-of-depression. So much good happened last year, do not even hear that wrong. So much good that you wouldn't believe it, and if you want to know, just ask me and I will unleash the goodness-stories. But my heart and soul and body were: exhausted.

"Then Jesus said, 'Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.'" Matthew 11:28

I asked myself this very deep and thought out question:

"Why?"

At the root of my answer was the very real fear of man. And fear is heavy, it is chaotic, it is deafening - a burden I am not asked to carry. "My identity has always been linked in a very unhealthy way to accomplishment (and its horrid cousin, Approval). I know this about myself and it is at least partly why I constantly (over) share my foibles and failures publicly; admission keeps me in sane territory where perfection is dismantled for ordinary humanity. These confessions are more for me than you.." (A quote copied and pasted directly before your eyes from the blog of Jen Hatmaker).

I cannot hear His {Jesus's} heartbeat when the unnecessary contractions of chaos are squeezing my soul. The clenching contractions of accomplishment...approval.

The moment I begin to "fear man," I lose the sound of His steady pulsating heartbeat. His heartbeat is peaceful, confident, safe. I don't quite mean being afraid of humans - what I mean is, living and breathing and making decisions based on my assumption of their approval. Fearing man means my heart shifts from fearing God. It means I am not listening to my Creator, I cannot hear His grace, and I do not see what He has for me. Freedom is swallowed whole and I become entrapped with: "But will _________ be disappointed if I say no? If I don't do this one thing, that I apparently believe the entire world depends upon, then I am a failure. I suck. And I really suck because I have said no and I am attempting this thing called boundaries -- so now I am displeasing people and letting others down and I suck and I am a big Fat F. F is for Failure. I might as well die." Walking day by day through life carrying the constant anxiety that I am breathing wrong is such a prison. Commence exhausted, bitter, swamped, depressed self. Good thing I'm not a drama queen.

So unnecessary, the angst I was enslaved by. The most annoying part was that all year I knew I was living in Funky Town but I couldn't figure out how to move into Freedomville. But somehow, here I stand. On the other side of 2014 and full of freedom. Freedom comes with: the ability to say yes without fear, the ability to say no without fear & guilt, joy, peace, reassurance in who I am, confidence that I am whole and wholly loved even though I constantly mess up Things. You know what?

I can hear His heartbeat.

And it is so, so good. It is steady, safe, secure. It is vast, wild, wonderful. It is freeing.

"He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed." Isaiah 61:1b Can you hear His heartbeat? What is blocking it and what is at the root of it's silence?