I was vacationing at my parents’ house in Maryland when I found out I was pregnant with my fourth child. Giddy with excitement, I shared the news with my mom and (by telephone) with my husband. It was hard to sleep that night as I thought about tiny socks, soft blankets, and heart-cracking little smiles. Another baby!
By the next morning, though, I had started to worry. Morning sickness (a misnomer if there ever was one–how about _all day sickness_?). Sleep deprivation. Bleeding nipples. All with three preschoolers in tow.
I was flipping through my scriptures that evening when a verse jumped out at me, a verse I had never read before:
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” (Romans 12:1)
“Brethren” reference aside, the words hit me like the proverbial thunderbolt. I had never thought about myself, my body, my work as a mother, in this way. A living sacrifice. Yes.
I thought a lot about this concept throughout that pregnancy and the four that followed (one being short-lived). It strikes me that Paul’s plea is answered magnificently in the daily works of women–especially the women of the Church, who actively present their bodies as living sacrifices to God, in so many ways. I’m thinking particularly about the ways that are squarely in the feminine domain. Pregnancy, of course. Labor. Childbirth. Feeding, holding, rocking, cleaning, tending in a hundred different ways (okay, so dads do those things too, but usually not full-time).
But–and this is a vital point– the sacrifice is not made only by women whose wombs bear live fruit. Think of women who suffer miscarriages, or stillbirths. Think of women who struggle with infertility and the deep current of effort, pain, and loss that accompanies the condition, as well as the various “treatments” for it. Think of women who pay the complex price necessary to adopt and nurture a child. And think of single women keeping the law of chastity who must forego fulfillment of many kinds–maternal and sexual, to name a few. In all of these circumstances, women consecrate their bodies to God’s will and purposes.
This truth touches me deeply. And God has told me, more than once, that it touches him deeply too.
I’m looking forward to next year’s Segullah offerings, which will explore the two components of this topic. The Mortal Body is the theme of our Spring 2007 issue (to be published next April), and Consecration is the theme of our Fall 2007 issue (submissions deadline: April 1). Because I am so intrigued by the link between these two concepts as they relate to women’s lives, I am writing an article about it. Working title? You guessed it: A Living Sacrifice.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about women’s bodies and the ways they consecrate themselves to God. Please post your thoughts along these lines, and please encourage your friends and family members to do the same:
As a woman, how have you used your body to fulfill divine purposes? (this includes all aspects of the mortal body, the emotional as well as the physical).
How has this sacrifice and consecration brought you closer to God?
I may want to quote your comments in my article, if you’re willing. I’ll consider all anonymous posts fair game. If you use your name, make sure there’s a way for me to contact you. Either ensure that your blogging name links to a site (e.g. your own blog) that provides your email address, or email a copy of your posted comment to editor (at) segullah.org