Your Newborn is Ugly

Having just gone through hours of labor — the pain of childbirth — you are basking in the glow of first sight and first sounds. Cuddling your soft, warm, adorable newborn child in your arms, a visitor arrives…

…and tells you she’s ugly.

They go on to tell you that things just go downhill from there. They tell you all the ways their own child has crushed their spirit, ripped out their heart and left them for dead.

No, this did not actually happen to me, but haven’t we all come across those people who think it’s their purpose to warn us about the troubles ahead?

Maybe it wasn’t your baby.

Maybe it was your marriage.

Maybe it was a new job.

Maybe it was a dream you had.

::

As Josh and I prepared for our wedding day, we had numerous couples forewarn us about what married life would entail.

“The first year is great, but it’s awful from that point until year seven. Then it goes back to almost as good as year one.”

“You think you know each other, but married life is hard. Most couples don’t make it.”

“Put an M&M in a jar every time you have sex the first year. Then take one out every time you have sex the second year. You won’t even come close to removing half of the M&Ms.”

I got to the point where I wondered why we should even get married at all. How could all of these people be so negative about it? Were they trying to encourage us? What was the point in their comments?

::

Then, it happened again when I was pregnant with Elijah.

“I can’t believe you told everyone right away. Don’t you know how many people have miscarriages with their first baby?”

“Don’t get an epidural. People can get paralyzed from the waist down if they get one.”

“Get some rest now, you aren’t going to sleep for the next 18 years…or longer.”

“Life will never be the same for you and Josh.” (they did not mean this in an encouraging way)

Again, I couldn’t figure out the point in these communications.

::

We are currently on the cusp of following our dreams. We are hoping to be able to serve in vocational ministry so we can live out our calling, and also support our family financially. Something awful has happened to me…

All of those negative comments from people over the years, their awful predictions regarding something I hoped for, have seeped inside of me. I cannot talk about our plans without addressing the cautions that I feel people are thinking. I don’t want to give them the chance to say them, so I voice the warning and my knowledge of it before they can.

“We want to work at a church. Of course, we realize that this is a bad time for the economy and so our hopes of getting a full-time position at a church are crazy. We’re prepared to work somewhere else for a few years if we need to.”

“We’d love to start a ministry for burnout prevention in ministry leaders. Of course, we don’t have the immediate start-up funds for it right now, and we have four children, so we’ll probably have to do something else for a few years until we can build up the funds.”

I’m giving God an out. I’m calling my newborn dream ugly. What I feel that God is doing with us is unacceptable. I’m trying to make people more comfortable with our crazy, by showing that we’re being logical.

::

Two 20-year-olds coming together and committing to spend the rest of their lives together is not logical.

Having a baby while living in someone else’s home is not logical. Either is moving out-of-state six weeks after having a second one. Add to that having a third one while working part-time and in school full-time. Oh, and we discovered that having a fourth is never logical.

Quitting your job without a new one lined up is not logical.

Hoping for a full-time position in ministry is not logical.

Yes, I get it. We do things a little crazy.

We lean not on our own understanding, but we Trust in the Lord. We look to Him. Not to make our paths straight, but to lead us around the hairpin course He’s got us on. Hair pin turns are the easiest way to get uphill.

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83 Comments

  1. Oh my word, girl. This is amazing.

    Last day at my office job was last Friday. Never have I felt more free or things felt more ‘right’ than giving my two weeks’ notice, even though nothing was concrete on the other side.

    I am certain, avid supporter and encourager of dreams that I am, that I have been that voice who has squashed others’ dreams with my limited perspective.

    Oh, thank God…that we might only have His, for ourselves and for others.

    And that He would put a clamp on my mouth when I don’t.

    Love this post. One thing I do know: He who has called you (and Josh) will be faithful to complete His good work both in and through you.

    Isn’t it funny, too…He makes no apology for Himself, nor does He explain Himself away. (Not unlike someone I know. Yikes.) Jesus, yes. This. Me? Thanks.

    Xo

    1. Melissa says:

      That’s very exciting, Mary Kathryn! It is so freeing when you know you’re fully in God’s will. I’m praying for you right now as you rest in that!

      He doesn’t make any apologies for Himself, I like that reminder. He is unapologetically illogical and unpredictable. Thanks for the amazing encouragement!

    2. HopefulLeigh says:

      Ditto, Mary Kathryn! You took the words right out of my mouth, just switch last Friday with this Tuesday, and you have my crazy story.

      Melissa, I completely understand that pressure to rationalize your decision and address concerns before they’re even spoken. I’ve noticed that people’s “advice” no matter what we’re facing can tend toward the negative. I want to ask people if they remember why they got married, had children, started this new job, etc. Because they seem to have lost the joy from the way they talk about those things now.

      Excellently written. I’m praying for you and your family during this exciting venture!

      1. Melissa says:

        Wow! There’s a lot of quitters here! ;) Haha!

        Thanks for your prayers, and I return them to you for your situation. God is faithful, and when we know He’s leading us we can be certain that He will provide for our needs!

  2. Tia says:

    Oh Melissa, I feel ya. Always coming up with word vomit to appease others with what seems sensible, always needing to sell the plan or the choice, but you are right; it’s like it sponges up every last bit of excitement because you are expending all your energy trying to convince the practical. If there’s anything I have learned over the years is that God talks to all of us differently; you know this; for some it’s long term with details, others it’s step by step with little foresight; I am the latter, but as long as we’re carrying out what is His plan, it’s good. I am so happy you are choosing what is good.

    1. Melissa says:

      “word vomit”

      So exactly describes what it is! :) It definitely sponges up the excitement. We shouldn’t have to apologize for following God’s plan for our life. I know you have had to make a lot of these decisions in your life as well, and God always comes through for you! It is, as you said, all about choosing what is good. :) Thanks, Tia!

  3. Jason Slavin says:

    Yeeeey! I liked this post a lot. :)

  4. Good word Melissa. Interesting exercise: to all those negative words put a positive spin on them. Marriage (38 years in 14 days). Having kids (wouldn’t trade my girls for anything money can buy. They have filled my life with so much joy). You get the idea. Dream big and don’t allow the negatives overcome the positives. Still praying for you and Josh.

    1. Melissa says:

      Congratulations on the upcoming anniversary, Bill! :) Got any big plans?

      1. Not really. We leave for vacation on the 19th for Ohio to spend a week with our grandson. That will be cool…and tiring. We may want to retire after that!! :)

        1. Melissa says:

          I call those vacations…visiting. They are not relaxing or rejuvenating! Hopefully with our upcoming move to Washington (where all of our family is) we can have some vacations in our future that are just that. Haha!

          1. True. But when you don’t get to see your grandson very often because he lives 4 hours away and pastors can’t very well take off on the weekends, it will seem “like a vacation.” we will have to come home to get rest I bet! LOL

  5. lauren says:

    i am so proud of you and josh for taking this step in complete faith. of jumping when you cannot see the bottom and believing, trusting, knowing teh Lord is going to take care of you. so beautiful. reminds me to live in audacious faith. believe God for more. trust more in Him. even when {especially when} i cannot see the bottom or the ground my next step is going to land on.

    like y’all, i have so often been treated in the same way and tried to rationalize my crazy. and given those same ‘get out of jail free cards’ for God. and i hate that. hate feeling like i need to give God an ‘out’.

    have you read “sun stand still” by steven furtick? i think it would be especially encouraging and helpful in this season.

    praying for you today friend. . .

    1. Melissa says:

      Thanks for the recommendation, Lauren. I haven’t read it, but will check it out. Looking forward to meeting you in person next week! :)

  6. Lydia J Will says:

    just days away from meeting our completely illogical 5th born, this post spoke to me. God is bigger than the opinions of others.

    1. Melissa says:

      AMEN!!!!! Praying for you and your illogical fifth child. :)

  7. I hear ya’!

    Love the hair pin turn line…so true!

    God is with you in the valley and will lead you through it. He never leaves!

    Go for it and enjoy the ride!

    1. Melissa says:

      Thanks for the encouragement, Beverly! :) Praying for you in your own hair pin turns!

  8. Never give up. I think I almost have, but I don’t want you guys to.

    1. Melissa says:

      Don’t give up, yourself, Bernard! :)

  9. Lynnette says:

    my husband always tells people they need to get kids, it is great.
    I’m not sure our kid-less by choice friends appreciate it much

    i remember when we moved halfway across Canada to take an unpaid youth ministry job. Never heard so much advise on what a mistake it was, about the pitfalls and all the ways it could go wrong. Oh yeah and add the fact that I could not work because i was still on a visitor visa in Canada and getting pregnant after being there 2 weeks with no jobs. All turned out well, no one died or starved, we did not move back in with parents because we failed and we even managed to not live on the streets.

    And I have seen some Ugly babies in the nursery at the hospital and thanked God that mine turned out cute :)

    1. Melissa says:

      What a great testimony, Lynnette! I had no idea! Your right, God doesn’t allow us to starve or leave us in the streets. Your story was very encouraging to me, thank you for sharing that!

      And…I have seen some ugly newborns. I just say, “Oh, look at the baby!” ;)

  10. Tony Alicea says:

    Wow, this may be the most powerful post of yours that I’ve read. It resonates so deeply with me.

    I’m so sorry that you’ve had so much negativity spoken over your life. I know so many people do it with good intentions but mostly it’s a reflection of their disappointments that they are projecting on you. When advice is given in fear, it’s never healthy.

    I can relate right now as I read the book Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas for a second time. The first time it rocked my world as I was in the process of a painful divorce and all the concepts of having a marriage perfect your faith and the idea that marriage isn’t intended to make you happy were all relevant issues.

    A few years later as I read it again with a different perspective, it seems almost scary to read. I feel like he’s saying that you can assume that you aren’t going to be happy in marriage but you need to just push through and allow yourself to “suffer with Jesus” through it. I get the concept but it seems a little doom and gloom for where I am today.

    I’m having a seriously hard time getting through it. Not because I disagree but because I think there is too much of a focus on the negative.

    1. It’s been awhile since I’ve read Sacred Marriage. But, based on your words here, I’m wondering if it is more of a “seasonal tool”.

    2. Melissa says:

      That’s so interesting how your perspective on the book changes with the circumstances! I’m sure there’s things in the bible that work the same way (not that Sacred Marriage is the bible — haha). I know there are parts of scripture that speak to me more at one time than another. What you shared totally proves my point though…there are times where people need the advice about getting through the hard times, but the negative doesn’t need to be shared in times of rejoicing. Rejoice with people who rejoice…and then be there for them also when it’s a little more difficult!

  11. kristinherdy says:

    This was such a powerful post.

    It doesn’t stop at the announcement that something new is coming, it continues when things don’t work out. I told you so. No one ever said marriage was easy… and 2nd marriages don’t fare any better. . . it’s disconcerting and it keeps us locked into inaction and shame.

    This was so good!

    1. Melissa says:

      You’re so right, Kristin! Even if we did “told you so” that should never be shared. People don’t need us to gloat over them when they’re going through a difficult time. Rather, “how can I help” and “what do you need” are more appropriate.

      “it keeps us locked into inaction and shame” — So true, and so sad!

  12. Thanks for this! Negative beliefs seem to be easier to say and to believe. I wrote a post about choosing success on June 1 if you are interested.
    http://artistinterrupted.wordpress.com/

    1. Melissa says:

      I’ll have to check it out! Thanks for sharing. :)

  13. apesydaisy says:

    I always wondered why people felt it necessary to constantly assail a new wife/mother with all the crazy that can happen. Most of the time, you know life will be hard, but you are looking forward to the rewards it offers as well especially if you are a child of God who knows that if you store up those treasures (spouse, child, milestones) in Heaven that you will be rewarded. Crazy people! LOL

    1. Melissa says:

      Haha! Crazy people! I like that. :)

  14. Having a fourth is never logical-I will most certainly take your word for it, especailly since I’m not sure having a third is logical either! hahaha So often people give unsolicited advice with good intentions. I think they really do just want to help, or share their experiences, commiserate. But, so often that is a dismissal of the recipients feelings or concerns.

    Such step of faith to walk into the unknown, take it day by day, and lay it at His feet. And, not to just get past it, but to walk through it, to persevere and learn from it all, constantly seeking His face. I say these things because that is where I want to be, not just surviving my current life situation, but growing, learning, persevering, and developing character through it all, becoming more like Him. Excited to see where God takes you guys!

    1. Melissa says:

      It definitely is out of good intentions. I think {mostly} they just want to keep you from having to go through what they went through. The problem is that we need to live and learn these lessons on our own. Very rarely can you just hear or read something and learn it; there has to be another step.

      I am trying right now not to just survive this process, but to learn from it. It’s harder than it sounds. :)

  15. Jenny says:

    I LOVE this post. Everyone needs to read it !

    1. Melissa says:

      Thanks, Jenny! :)

  16. Jason says:

    Your best yet.

    1. Melissa says:

      Thanks, Jason! :)

  17. Prudence says:

    Melissa thank you for your wise words.

    My husband and I are praying about some things and I’ve already started to pray about people’s reactions should God choose to move in a certain direction. We’re learning that for us this may be more about us taking a step of faith than God having everything lined up. Does that mean He won’t, no. We pray that He will.

    1. Melissa says:

      What an exciting place to be, Prudy! I’m praying for you and your husband as you seek out God’s direction in your life. He will guide you and provide for you and keep you!

  18. joAnn says:

    LOVE this. I mean, I really really love it. I’m in the business of giving God an out, and the comparison you made to calling my newborn ugly really hit home. Thanks for this.

    1. Melissa says:

      Thanks, JoAnn! I think it’s second nature to try to give God an out…we don’t want to be disappointed.

  19. Encouragement – you threw me a curve and I liked it!

    1. Melissa says:

      Haha! I guess it’s more of the power of dis{en}couragement!

  20. Katie M says:

    AMAZING!! I love this post!

    When I called off my wedding five years ago and moved to DC, people thought I was crazy. When I quit my job in DC four months ago because God told me to move back to my home state of WV, people thought I was crazy. When I started a long distance relationship with an amazing blogger named Tony Alicea four months ago, people had plenty of “advice” for me. And by “advice” I mean panic attack inducing stories of failed long distance relationships with a dash of “Craigslist Killer” for good measure. And now that I am moving to Florida to be with Tony, I have all but stopped talking about it to anyone because I don’t want them to freak me out. In general, people are happy for me and they love Tony (who wouldn’t..honestly?), but then there are some people I don’t want to talk to because I don’t want to hear any more horror stories about moving, relationships, and marriage.

    1. Go for it Katie! (Tony paid me to say this) j/k :)

      1. Katie M says:

        Thank you, Bill!! :) Tony has been handing out some major dough lately…lol!

    2. Melissa says:

      “I have all but stopped talking about it to anyone because I don’t want them to freak me out.”

      I get this, and it’s so sad when things get to that point. Again, I’m not sure if it’s because they’re genuinely trying to help us avoid pitfalls, or because they’re secretly hoping our situation turns out as horrible as their own. Either way, it’s not helpful. Praying for you as you continue on your illogical path of God, Katie. :)

  21. Jennifer says:

    Melissa, I love that you are pushing through the negative and doing what God has called you to do! I the type a person who also tries to answer peoples’ “doubts” before they even bring them up. But He is so faithful! Well wishes as your pursue God’s will!

    1. Melissa says:

      He is faithful. Sometimes that’s all we have to fall back on, but it’s more than enough. :) Thanks, Jennifer!

  22. John Hinton says:

    Wow. Just read this, because a friend linked it on fb… wow. Go after your dreams, and let God back you up. I think God is waiting on a generation that will dare to dream bigger than any that have come before. That are so sold out for God, that they hold on to that ticket as proof… the show is coming. The lights are gonna turn on, the curtain will raise, and something new will come forth. A generation that stands together on the promises of God and moves forward, disregarding the negative and focusing on the good things of God. His Glory is His Goodness, and there is more to be had. I loved this post.

    1. Melissa says:

      Thanks for stopping by, John! :) Your words are so encouraging! I love it!

  23. Bethany says:

    Love this!

    1. Melissa says:

      Thanks, Bethany!

  24. AnnieLaurie says:

    Melissa, I love this article and I wish more people would read it! What you have said is so true and you have perfectly articulated the entire dilemma. I am walking through a similar experience, and what I have found in this season of stepping out in faith and taking a risk for God is that as we continue the walk of faith (seemingly blind faith at times) God affirms and blesses each step AFTER we take it. I dont know if that makes sense, but time after time in this season of change we are in, God doesn’t give us proof or logic or any earthly “tangible” to assure us of our decisions. In fact, our decisions at times have seemed foolish to worldly logic and even to the advice of well meaning believers, but we step out anyway believing God and his word and time after time he provides and affirms our steps after we take them, not before. Its the classic leap of faith. And sometimes I stop to think how miserable we would be if we let the influence and negativity of life’s “tomato throwers” to stop us from stepping out and trusting God. Now I wonder if God brings the negative folks into our lives just so that he can prove them wrong and get more glory and praise for working despite human logic and understanding.
    Additionally, your post has convicted me, as I think even despite my best efforts to “walk by faith, not by sight,” I STILL in my heart of hearts have a few “outs” I am clinging to, “just in case.” I have said all along through this season that God is calling me to go ALL IN and reading your post has reminded me that I am still not FULLY all in. Pray for me to let go of my “outs” and back-up plans and really let God get the glory.
    Sorry for the long response, the post just REALLY resonated with me right now. Thanks for writing and sharing your life with others.
    AnnieLaurie

    1. Melissa says:

      First of all, I can’t ignore the fact that your name is Annie Laurie, that is my sister-in-law’s name, too. :) Were you named after the song?

      Ok, now that that all important detail is addressed, thanks for sharing your story! I will pray for you as you continue to step out in God’s calling for your life, bringing glory to Him as you do.

  25. “Hairpin turns are the easiest way to get uphill.” Very cool.

    Don’t let people who have given up on their dreams convince you to drink the Kool-Aid comprised of “normal” and “responsible.” Your willingness to try something adventurous is a painful reminder to people of the instances when they chose the easy way. Keep twisting and turning – you might just wake some others up, too.

    1. Melissa says:

      There’s such a tight rope balance in walking that line between faithfully following God and being irresponsible and reckless. Right now we feel God is leading us on that razors edge, but He’s in control and He’s our safety net. Haha! It’s all for His glory, and I know He’ll come through for us when we need Him! Thanks, Shawn!

  26. Moe says:

    Bad words are so easy to come out of people’s mouths. I like your approach though. Sometime you have to be a little “crazy”. I like the old early 90s commercial of Apple that said,

    “Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They invent. They imagine. They heal. They explore. They create. They inspire. They push the human race forward.

    Maybe they have to be crazy.

    How else can you stare at an empty canvas and see a work of art? Or sit in silence and hear a song that’s never been written? Or gaze at a red planet and see a laboratory on wheels?

    We make tools for these kinds of people.

    While some see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

    keep thinking “different” and crazy. The naysayers will keep naysaying in the same safe place they always have.

    1. Katie M says:

      Love this, Moe! “keep thinking “different” and crazy. The naysayers will keep naysaying in the same safe place they always have.” Good stuff.

    2. Melissa says:

      Wow! Who ever wrote the copy for that commercial is a genius! :) Seriously, how inspiring is that?! Thanks for sharing that, Moe. Now I want to go out and conquer worlds…and by something from Apple. Teehee!

  27. ohmyword!! feeling blessed to have read this today … so many great truths! thank you for sharing your heart with us …

    1. Melissa says:

      Thanks for stopping by, Tracie! :)

  28. Matt says:

    Really good stuff. It does seem like people can be quite the downer. I remember going to Walmart with my wife after we found out we were pregnant. We were all smiley and stuff, we get to the cash register and she’s just staring at us. I tell her, “We just found out we’re having a baby!” She looks at me as though I just told her I killed a cat and gives a “So?” look. Thankfully, nothing could stop our excitement, but I remember that so vividly.

    Anyway, thanks for the post. I enjoyed it.

    1. Melissa says:

      {gasp}

      That is awful! Maybe she was just having a bad day, or something…

      It is something that sticks with us though, when people try to dump on our joy. Luckily you were able to stay buoyant. :)

  29. Great analogy. I totally get what you’re saying by your title. I’ve felt that same discouragement from others when I’ve shared dreams or even pieces of dreams. It prompts me to try to NOT be that way.

    1. Melissa says:

      Thanks, Lisa. I have to admit that there have been times in the past where I’ve fallen into the same bad habit. Once it’s happened to you, though, I think you become much more aware of the words you spill onto others.

  30. You’re right, of course.

    But I suspect many people do not mean to be cruel, or negative. I think it’s their way of saying “Brace yourself”…because they’ve discovered that life (marriage, faith, parenting, aging, etc.) is usually ever so much harder than we thought it would be. And most of us think that if we’re prepared (or braced) for the bad times, they’ll be easier.

    Which probably isn’t true. But it sounds so sensible!

    When you’re on the receiving end of such comments, they can be terribly annoying. In my experience, when people say such things to me, I usually realize (5 or 10 years down the road) that they were right. But I didn’t believe them at the time…so the “advice” (if that’s what it was) didn’t help.

    (I didn’t read through all the comments, so maybe I’m repeating someone here.)

    Great post, though, and it got me thinking. Which I always love.

    1. Melissa says:

      I 100% agree with you! I think that the majority of the people who share such stories and “advice” (myself included) are trying to prepare us for what the future may hold. I also think that there is a lot of truth in what they’re sharing. However, I think that the timing is usually inappropriate, and they’re not taking into account the fact that God is the one revealing the plan — and He’s not always logical. Haha!

      Thanks for stopping by, and for sharing your insight on this. I really appreciate it!

  31. Lea Culp says:

    I’m sure that most folks mean well, but they just do not stop to hear how it sounds. Just keep trusting Him and don’t let those negative comments take root and just “keep on keeping on” in your journey with HIM. Blessings galore to you and your sweet family!

    1. Melissa says:

      Thanks! I’m sure of that as well. :)

  32. dustin says:

    Melissa, keep writing like this. Loved this. So much.

    On top of that, I enjoyed reading through each and everyone’s comment and hearing about how it resonated with them as well.

    1. Melissa says:

      I felt the same way reading all of the comments, Dustin! I was actually pretty nervous about publishing the post, so it was reassuring to see how others connected with it. :)

  33. Courtney says:

    Your title on Faith Barista caught my eye – and I love it! I am guilty of the exact thing you said – giving God an out. Saying, “I hope to do X” but then qualifying it in some way. Thanks for pointing this out and as a result, encouraging me!

    1. Melissa says:

      Titles definitely can impact people reading your posts! It’s so interesting. :)

      I’m glad you stopped by! Thanks, Courtney!

  34. Duane Scott says:

    I almost didn’t read this post becuase well, I thought it was about babies. :)

    But I’m so glad I did!

    Great perspective. I never thought of it that way before.

    TMI: Do you need me to stop by and pick up some M&M’s for ya?

    1. Duane Scott says:

      Now I see like 5 different ways that last comment could be taken wrong.

      What I meant is…

      Forget it.

      Trust me that I wasn’t being pervish. :)

      1. Melissa says:

        Hahah! I always trust that you are not being pervish! :)

    2. Melissa says:

      I try to make even posts that are about babies relevant to those non- baby people (but I did hear rumors of a dream of yours…)

      And…M&M’s are always appreciated! Make them peanut though. Haha!

  35. I read this last week, and I just loved it. I didn’t comment then, but it has stuck with me. Thank you for this challenge. I don’t seem to have the words to articulate WHAT it meant to me…but THANK YOU….very much!

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