A couple week ago, while Paraclete Press was having a $2.99 sale on all of their kindle books I picked this up.
Regular reading of this blog should know by now that I read in large part to process. I read fiction both to relax, but also get different perspectives on how the world works. I read theology and biblical studies to work through issues of faith, believe and understanding. I read history to process how the world has come to be and how we have and have not learned from our mistakes as a society. I read economics and social sciences to process how human behave, interact and work.
So it is only natural that I start reading about pregnancy as an expectant Dad.
Sarah Jobe is writing this primarily for expectant moms. But I found this a very helpful book for expectant Dads, as well as those that are just interested in how to support parents and families in the church.
A quick book, I read this almost entirely yesterday afternoon. But I think many will want to read it more devotionally. The chapters are quick, mostly self-contained and primarily oriented toward understanding pregnancy as a spiritual activity.
As a guy I will never be pregnant, and honestly I don’t really envy women that task (and joy). But there is only so much an outsider can understand. So there are three things that Jobe does very well in this book. First, she is honest about both the joys and the very literal pains and frankly gross aspects of pregnancy. I cannot tell you how many friends that have gone on before us in pregnancy. But so many thing already that we had just never heard. It is not only the frequency of miscarriage (although I think that is one of the most important) that many Christians does not share with one another. But also the less extreme things.
As a full time nanny for five years, and ask a guy that often participates in female conversation I have been in a lot of pregnancy/birth discussions. They are not always comfortable for us males, but there is some value is honestly (appropriately.)
The second real value, is Jobe’s desire to seek out spiritual understanding in mundane occurrences. You cannot get much more mundane than parenting. Pregnancy is a little more extreme, but the every day tasks of parenting are often set aside for more exciting areas of spiritual development. But Sarah Jobe starts right at the top, quoting Eve, “I have created a man with God!” (Gen 4:1)
She uses her desires for her two daughters to catch a glimpse of how God sees us as child.
In those early months, I read for one reason only. I wanted to know my baby. I was desperate for any news, and while the authors of those books hadn’t met my baby any more than I had, they certainly seemed to know a lot about what he or she was doing. They knew what size she was each week. They informed me when she had grown from the size of a pea to the size of a kidney bean. They told me when his little hands grew finger buds, and when his little lungs began to work. They told me when he or she had become a he or she, when her eyelids formed, and when he began to practice sucking. Those books seemed to know details about my baby that I hungered to know, and I delighted in every detail they delivered.
The third area I appreciate is that Jobe is honest.
The truth is, doing God’s work is hard. We imagine being in God’s presence as something sublime. We imagine beauty in the same way. Both should feel good. But being in God’s presence is difficult. Doing God’s work requires sacrifice and a willingness to suffer. It requires that we orient our lives to the needs of others. It rarely feels sublime, and we don’t imagine ourselves looking pretty while we do it. And yet Jesus, Moses, and pregnant women glow. They take up the work of the cross, they enter the presence of God, they partner with God in God’s work, and they glow.
But there are some (primarily male pastors and theologians) that will be uncomfortable with parts of this book. They will be comfortable with Jobe’s discussion of woman as co-creators with God. They will even be more uncomfortable with her discussion of the pain of childbirth as reminiscent of the pain of the Cross. And they will be uncomfortable with Jobe’s free use of feminine imagery for God (mother, nursing, birth, etc.) However, Jobe is very biblical in the way the in interacting with both her experience as mother and her reading of scripture.
This is a short book I can highly recommend.