Let’s play a quick game! Would you rather…
- Break a leg or Give birth?
- Get into a car accident or Give Birth?
- Swim with sharks or Give birth?
- Have your body catch on fire or Give Birth?
- Get bitten by a rabid animal or Give Birth?
- Use hot sauce as eye drops or Give Birth?
- Re-do high school or Give Birth?
As a mother whose experienced traumatic deliveries, I often joke (somewhat seriously) that I’d rather experience a whole host of other painful things rather than go through the pain of delivery again. I am so grateful for the lives of my own little ones, but make no mistake: giving birth is a tortuous experience for most women.
So, it’s perhaps not surprising that Birthing Hope by author Rachel Marie Stone caught my attention.
Rachel delves into birth metaphors as she unchronologically reflects on stories from her childhood, the births of her two sons, and accidentally drenching her hands in the blood of an hiv-positive baby entering the world.
We don’t always think about this amid our epidurals and sterilized hospitals, but there is a universal truth about birth—it reminds us of our own mortality.
That is what it is to be a mother: to love and nurture that which is fragile, mortal, unpredictable, uncontrollable, and ultimately not even truly one’s own. Kathleen Norris put it this way: "One of the most astonishing and precious things about motherhood is the brave way in which women consent to give birth to creatures who will one day die." (p. 74)
Our mortality may in turn serve as bridge to another universal truth—our need for a Savior. We desperately need the hope that only Christ can provide.
I found Rachel’s book to be a provocative reminder of my own mortality, as I reflected on my own birth stories, and an encouragement to persevere through difficult moments knowing that better things are coming.
The format of the book is a little outside the box. In literary terms, she does well incorporating “the Stream of Consciousness” technique, though interestingly she does not do so chronologically.
Her table of contents is also very fascinating. You will note that some of the chapters have the same title, such as Chapters 7 & 11 (Baptism) or Chapters 5 & 12 (Dive). The content found within the chapters, though, remains unique.
Overall, I suspect that those of you who love poetry or classic authors such as Virginia Woolf would probably also like this book.
At any rate, whether you read the book or just think about some of its themes, we could all use a reminder that life on earth is fleeting and to make the most of today we must keep eternity in mind.
(As a disclaimer, I received a free copy of this book from Intervarsity Press but all opinions expressed are my own.)