making room

My writing prompt was last night's Advent thought from Ann Voskamp's Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: How can you make room for Jesus in your life?

Christmas is my favorite time of year because the whole earth is essentially celebrating birth! A baby came out of a vagina! Jesus Christ came to earth in the most basic way. Of all the ways that God could have delivered his Son, he chose... a woman. 

YAS QUEEN!!!!!!!!!

So we celebrate. We celebrate Jesus's BIRTHday, even though it's not even the same time of year he was born. We give each other gifts to celebrate that very unexpected gift that Mary and Joseph received that day. 

And every woman who has ever carried a child wonders how she did it. How did Mary do it?! We don't know if she was 37 weeks or 40 or even 43 weeks pregnant. But she was in a precarious situation of being pregnant before her wedding (yes, God! Come through with the controversial!), and I am to assume she was riding around on a donkey. Was she actively in labor, or did this begin after they were settled in the barn with the cows? Was she huffing and puffing and groaning? And no one would take them in?! Who looks out their door at young pregnant woman and says, "Nope. I don't have room for you." It is hard for me to imagine ever telling someone in need that I don't have room for them. 

Mary had no choice but to make room for Jesus. She was stretched further than she ever thought her skin could go. There was no room for food in her stomach anymore because this baby occupied her entire abdominal space. Even her heart was displaced. 

And then labor happened and she stretched in places she may not have thought of. The vaginal walls are covered in rugae, which are deep wrinkles. This way, when needed, it can expand to have more surface area and, well, accommodate a baby's body passing through. 

What we cannot see is how the soul stretches wide open during labor. It's immeasurable and unquantifiable and only those that have experienced this know. Mary experienced it while birthing Jesus. Many cultures have ceremonies for closing the soul. Even Mary's culture had rules about this time that involved not going out in public for a certain number of days depending on whether you had a girl or a boy. Some bind abdomens, others serve only cold foods, and others use herbs...for closure.

But you never really close up after you have experienced this stretching. Nothing is ever the same again. (The entire world was never the same again after Mary's stretching!) You are forever vulnerable after you've been stretched like this. 

Repeat it over and over and over? And you are stretched thin. (This isn't going where you think it is.)

There are women in my life that I turn to when I need to talk deep, and they have been stretched thin repeatedly like me (most more than five times). They get it. They get the vulnerability, they get how wide open my soul is, they get how stretched thin I am. 

These are not the women that tell me I am doing too much. These are not the women that tell me I give too much. These are not the women that tell me to slow down, don't do that, maybe you should reconsider, think of yourself! 

These women know that stretched thin means I can't NOT accommodate more, help more, give more. We have become experts at making room. Our hearts have been displaced and we don't know how to only think of ourselves anymore. Once you have a bunch of kids running around, you really let go of the perfect ideals of a neat and tidy life. You are okay with the unexpected, the unplanned. You have found ways to refresh and be alone, but it doesn't look like everyone else's.

So please pardon us, pardon me, if I give too much. If I make too much room for others. Pardon me if I am too passionate, too intense, too wide open. Because I have also made room for Jesus, who displaced my heart beyond the physical displacement that Mary experienced. I made room for him, and when you make room for Jesus you make room for others too.