One biblical scene that brings me great joy is that of the visitation. It’s such a profound moment, but you don’t have to meditate on the depth to simply enjoy the warmth that is shared between them. Two expecting women, basking in the joy of creation! And even basking in it to a heightened degree because Mary carries the Savior of the world within her. What a gift. It wasn’t until I was expecting my fourth child that I truly appreciated Elizabeth’s role.
Nothing shows you someones feelings toward children more quickly than announcing that you are pregnant. The reactions range greatly: from the happiest of congratulations to the snarkiest remarks. Sometimes, people just stare at you as they process their own feelings.
After my first pregnancy announcement, I remember feeling hurt from a few of the reactions I received. I was naive and assumed everyone would be over-the-moon excited for me. The fourth time around I found myself more timid and slow to announce. The joyful news only felt safe if I kept it to myself.
As the news ventured out to others it was met with joy, but more often with hesitation and questioning.
“You must be so tired and overwhelmed”
“I can’t believe you’re having another one”
I know these comments are more about them than me, but it’s easy to be weighed down by the looks and questions. It’s easy to let doubt creep in.
When I told some friends at our co op that I was expecting, everything changed. These women didn’t even hesitate. They rushed over to me, squeezed me tight, and offered the most sincere and loving congratulations. They gushed about their excitement for our and family, asked how I was feeling and if I needed anything. In weeks to come, they told me of their prayers for me and baby and continued to check in regularly.
The way they embraced me chased away the weariness and doubts I had been carrying, replacing them with the warmth of joyful expectation. Their reactions strengthened me for the journey ahead, and I imagine that is how Mary felt when she finally reached the safety of Elizabeth.
With a single embrace, words of praise pouring from her lips, Elizabeth confirmed and strengthened Mary for what lay ahead. There was no fear or hesitation or judgement. No need to answer the difficult questions or worry how her news would be received by others. Enlightened by the Holy Spirit, these two found rest in each other.
We are called to be this same resting place for all expecting women. To hold them in joy as they process the many challenging circumstances that surround pregnancy. To hold them in strength as they prepare for the journey ahead. To hold them in hope as we walk alongside them. They don’t need our pity or judgements. They need our joy, our prayers, and our companionship.