When I was nearing time to give birth to Warrior Girl, they were going to induce me because labor hadn’t started some 12 hours after my water broke. Consequently, they had me lying in the bed hooked up to a fetal monitor. Nurses kept coming in to adjust things and check me, looking rushed and somewhat concerned.
I hated it. I wasn’t even technically in labor, but I felt every little cramp and pain lying in that bed.
Fortunately, I went into labor literally moments before they were about to induce me. Once they determined I didn’t have to be induced, I was out of bed like a rocket, power walking the halls like “I’m in labor ya’ll!”
Some hours later, I was in the bathtub feeling calm and serene when I suddenly vomited multiple times in a row and felt overwhelmed with an energy that tore through me and made me feel like I was climbing the walls. It occurred to me, this is transition. This is when people who weren’t planning to get an epidural ask for one.
But the thought of lying on my back in the bed again, listening to the beep of the monitor, sounded unbearable. That just wasn’t an option for me.
I realized then: there’s no getting out of this. I just have to go through it.
So, I did.
In this case, it turned out to be awesome.
Childbirth is certainly one of those times where you just have to go through it; there’s really no other option. Whether you go unmedicated, have a C-section, have an epidural or whatever… the baby has to come out.
And there are other times when we weigh our options and realize none of them save us from our problems or from ourselves. We realize a white knight is not coming to save us, God is not going to solve all our day-to-day problems, we can’t ultimately escape into spirituality, hedonism, work, or anything else. We have to make choices, take action, do something—or perhaps just bear our suffering the best way we know how.
It is those times when courage is called for. We must summon every ounce of courage we possess, borrow some from friends, and/or pray for the courage we lack.
Sometimes, the only way out is through.
Whatever your cross is to bear, may you bear it with courage (even when you are terrified and despairing), and may you bear it with dignity (even when you’re in your pajamas at 2 pm and haven’t bathed in a week).
Enduring is itself an accomplishment, and bearing your burden in the best way you can is worthy of honor and respect.
So friends, when the only way out is through, whether you feel depressed or triumphant about it, may you use the experience to deepen your compassion for others and yourself, to practice making decisions, to live your values, to create meaning, to open your heart. May the experience soften you, bring you wisdom, bring you new understanding.