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Joy and Pain - Arkansas Birth Photography

Life can be scary and painful. But life is also beautiful and joyful! And just as those two facts describe life in general, they also can describe the experience of childbirth. I think we, as humans, have a tendency to try and skim over the ugly and focus on only the pretty facade. But that's not the whole truth, is it? The pain is also a part of our story, the story of humanity. Sometimes humanity goes through periods of suffering. Often we are refined through this fire and find joy on the other side. We are often terrified. But we are also brave, because throughout the story of humanity we have reached down inside ourselves and carried on in spite of our terror. That is the true meaning of courage, as we know, not the absence of fear, but walking on in spite of it.

Georgia O'Keeffe Quote on fear

I think people are aware of our tendency to skim over the messy parts of life and only present the "perfect." So many public personalities who show the "real" side of life are more popular for it - I know you've seen a Facebook post or 10 with those cheerio soaked messy hair mom selfies. And this is a great thing. As a society we need to see the mess or else we may forget that we are all in this mess together and that no one leads a perfect life. And in this same vein, I believe just as we must normalize life's everyday messes we should also be showing the joy and beauty in the "mess" and pain of childbirth. Never has there been such a uniquely life centered experience - there are moments of doubt, fear, and pain, but they are overcome! And that story, of fear and pain overcome to bring new life, really is the greatest story ever told.

We shouldn't only tell stories that gloss over life's messes. Those stories may go down easy but they don't help or inspire anyone to overcome their own obstacles in pursuit of a goal. Of course this is not to say I don't love to look at beautiful set ups and posed perfection - it is good to look at beauty in all of its forms:

Brothers and sisters, continue to think about what is good and worthy of praise. Think about what is true and honorable and right and pure and beautiful and respected. Philippians 4:8 (ERV)

But now more than ever, in our disconnected society, I feel we need to see real beauty in amongst the pain and fear. Raw emotion and human stories of perseverance and clinging to hope and faith and then the victory on the other side - those stories are the stories we need so desperately. Before modern society became so disconnected from community living, birth and death and everything in between was shared much more openly with those around us. Everyone was exposed to these things and thus were familiar with their presence, the beauty and the pain of them. For often there is no true beauty without pain. Let's re-normalize the sight of it all and soak in every beautiful messy moment of humanity. Because we are all in it together.

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