Reflecting on my pregnancy, I had it pretty good. I didn't even know I was pregnant until I was almost thirteen weeks. I went through that first trimester with almost no symptoms. It was really when I realized that I hadn't had a period in a while, that I knew something was off.
I was so excited for my bump to start showing. It was around twenty two or twenty three weeks that it was no longer something I could hide with a big t-shirt. Of course now, with a bump, my belly was inviting all kinds of questions, comments, and advice from friends, family, and a whole lot of strangers.
I got pregnant just six weeks after marrying my husband, Max. So, I was already in the season of "advice". Because when you get engaged, people want to tell you their experience, and they want to give you advice on the wedding, the marriage, and everything in between.
Did you ask for it? Prooobably not. That's okay, though. I hope it didn't bother you too much, because usually it's people's way of loving on you. They usually have good intentions, and they want to give you advice based on their experience, of course.
So rewinding my life a bit, the wedding is over and we have an amazing, beautiful honeymoon on the island of Kauai. Then, just two months after getting married, we close on our first home. It's bigger than we really need, but we know we'll have kids eventually anyway. I'm in marriage paradise, my friends. I'm loving decorating my home, cooking for my husband, and living that newlywed life. Everything is new and exciting and warm.
Also, I've escaped (for the most part) the "advice" season. Yes!!
Or so I thought... because then I got pregnant, and that may be the biggest season of your life for all the advice to come swarming in.
People may tell you it's hard, but they are putting their own experience on you. People may tell you it was a breeze, but again, they are putting their own experience on you. That's okay because it's all they know, so they are trying to be helpful and give you an idea of what to expect. But, the truth is, when you are talking to a new mom, instead of putting your own experiences on them, it's probably best to say something like: "you are going to be amazing. You are going to figure out your own rhythm and it's going to be okay. I'm right here if you need help."
When a new mom is figuring things out, the best thing for her to hear is encouragement. I know how hard it is to hold back the things you want to share, but if you have advice, I'm sure she will ask for it when she needs it. Otherwise, it feels like you're telling her what she's doing wrong, and she's just going to add it to the list that she's already got going. At least, that's how I felt.
It's funny how right after you pop out a baby, you're trying to figure out a million different things, and then people ask how many more you want. People say, "when is the next one coming?" or "oh, he needs a sibling to play with". People, most of the time, have good intentions when asking these questions, or they're even joking with you. It never really bothered me, so I would answer honestly and say something like, "I love this season. Having Lucas has been the most joyful experience and I can't imagine not having a couple more. Maybe four!" At my answer, people have laughed. Maybe they think I'm joking. Maybe they think I'm young and naive (and that's probably true).
Then, they'll say something like, "oh, just wait and see how you feel after the next one! Luke is an easy baby, so the next one is going to give you a run for your money!!" Ugh.
I rebuke that! Guys, I really rebuke that. I even say that to someone when they tell me that kid number two will be a wild one. They laugh when I say that, too. It's a little funny, but I believe in the power of words, and I believe that I don't have to keep the weight of negative words on my life.
Why would someone say that to me? Well, like I previously mentioned, people want to put their personal experiences on you. It's okay, that's just human nature, and I do it, too. But lately, I'm trying to catch myself. I'm trying not to tell anyone anything besides encouragement, because I don't want to say something that may make them feel like their world is about to fall apart. And if I don't have encouragement, I try not to say anything at all.
It's kind of like when someone would ask me how I'm feeling during my pregnancy. I would tell them something half-honest. Like a sugar-coated truth. I'd be exhausted and uncomfortable and feeling like a whale, but I'd say something like, "I'm doing pretty well, just tired, and none of my pants fit!" and lots of times I heard something like, "oh, just wait until the end! You're going to be so uncomfortable and you will just want that baby out!"
That makes me cringe just thinking about it! I had that conversation lots of times. There was some truth to what they said, because I did feel that way some days. I just wish they would have said something more encouraging, not so heavy and burdening. Maybe then I would be looking forward to something, rather than anxious about what was to come.
This philosophy I'm talking about doesn't just apply to new moms, though.
If there's a college kid in your life, maybe don't joke about how rough it's about to get during finals.
If someone is stepping out into their dream, and they're unsure about the journey ahead, don't laugh it off with a half hearted, "good luck with that!"
If you have a single friend, think before you say, "we should really get you a boyfriend".
My point is, there are power in words. We need to realize that we are speaking over people's lives. Not just in person, but in our private conversations, too.
Words have the power of life and death!
Why is prayer so powerful? 1. Because we are asking God to intervene, and 2. because we are speaking over someone's life.
So, next time you give some advice, next time you have a sarcastic comment, next time you simply have a conversation, keep in mind the power of your words. Let's speak life over people.
Proverbs 18:21 (ESV) Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.