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Brené Brown says it best:

“Faith isn’t an epidural. It’s a midwife who stands next to me saying, ‘Push. It’s supposed to hurt.’


This is what I wish I’d learned in church growing up. This is what I now know the faith-journey to be. And yet this flies in the face of the breed of Christianity I was raised in.

Faith was a balm. Salvation was a rescue plan. Jesus was a Savior from all things hard and uncomfortable and icky.

And then life happened.

And I discovered none of that was true.

Jesus didn’t come to immunize me against pain or grief or heartache.

He didn’t wrap me in bubble wrap and send me on my holy way, safe from harm and hurt. He didn’t say I wouldn’t (or—gasp!—shouldn’t) grieve, be uncomfortable, battle illness, or face insurmountable hardship. He didn’t promise that things would be easy or fair or fun.

What He did was assure me that I would never be alone.

God came down to the messy hell-hole that this life can be and chose to sit in it with me. He’s right here, sitting cross-legged beside me in the dirt.

He’s not trying to fix anything. He’s not spouting platitudes—”Let go, and let Me. I’ll work all things together for good.”{GAH!}or even trying to make sense out of the senseless. He’s just being present with me. Holding my hand and my heart. And assuring me I don’t have to do this alone.

I’m not spared. I’m held. 

When I stop looking for Him to deliver a wonderdrug or bippity-boppity-boo me into a blessed life, I’m able to recognize the gift of His simple presence. His simple, powerful, heart-strengthening, more-than-enough presence right here with me.


It’s supposed to hurt.

And then I realize what it means to love like He does. What it means to be Christ to you as you face your own darkness and grief.

It doesn’t mean pretending to have answers or presuming I can fix things. It certainly doesn’t mean telling you what you should or shouldn’t be doing.

It means simply being willing to sit in the pain and discomfort with you. And just be.

What I can do is assure you that you won’t be alone while you push.


60 Responses to “push.”
  1. Beth

    Oh yes. This is hard to swallow sometimes, but so true. I totally agree.

  2. Powerful post, Alece! This perspective can’t be learned in a classroom or book, but only as God takes is deeper into our pain and brokenness. Thank you for not trying to pretty- up the redemptive work God is doing in your life!

    • that deep down desire for everything to be wrapped up real pretty in a nice neat bow still struggles with present-tense authenticity, but i’m trying to be intentional to do it anyway. thank you for affirming that in me, traylor…

  3. Caris Adel says:

    “He’s not spouting platitudes—”Let go, and let Me. I’ll work all things together for good.”—{GAH!}—or even trying to make sense out of the senseless. ” YES! I really loved this post.

    I read this post right after I read this one in my reader, http://graciousgaze.blogspot.com/2013/03/a-book-of-uncommon-prayer-willing-to.html and the two of these together are just perfect. Very encouraging today.

  4. Holy cow. Yes. Thank you, my friend. I needed this today.

  5. Victoria says:

    I usually just lurk but the study I’m doing just had this idea pop up in a verse and I wanted to share it.

    “For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us. ” Romans 8:22-23

  6. This seems to be a trending topic today.

    I woke up to this:

    For the mountains may depart
    and the hills be removed,
    but my steadfast love shall not depart from you,
    and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,”
    says the LORD, who has compassion on you.
    Isaiah 54:10 ESV

    And have had an odd mix of these two songs in my head all day.

    Not For A Moment:

    Never Once:

    After coming off a “desert” season, looking back seeing how He held me through it all, I’m not sure if this trend should be comforting or if it should scare me as to what’s coming next…

  7. Mark Allman

    You know Alece there are lots of times I wish Jesus would give me a shot against the pain I have or give a shot to the ones I have so hurt by my actions. We so want God to take away instead of taking us through.

    Great post.

    That we would love those that hurt us as God does when we hurt him.

  8. Darla says:

    experiencing presently the last couple months….and this is truth! The darkness is still dark, but I can see in it, and his presence is priceless. Thanks for always writing from the heart. I appreciate it

  9. So true – and a truth that can be hard to accept sometimes.

  10. Allison Johnson (@Allison0105)

    Oh my Gosh. Yes. This. So so so good. Hugging you… because, really, me too.

    Love. You.

  11. brandiej says:


    truth. and midwives. two of my favorite things in life, because the journey of birth and motherhood is such a powerful picture of real faith.

    i often think about Jesus, leaving his dear friends in the garden…to go on a little farther, to a place that only He could go. and had to go. alone. birth must be walked alone, though others can be a distance away, supporting. the pain and journey we’ve walked in the divorce was like that as well. though so many loved me so tangibly, and we there for me every step, i had to walk on, a little farther. just me and Jesus.

  12. Um. That quote sort of just rocked my world.

  13. Mindy says:

    “What He did was assure me that I would never be alone.”

    One of the things I’ve been realizing the past months is that there is a big difference between being “lonely” and being “alone”. The Lord never promised that I would never be lonely, but He certainly promised again and again that I would never be alone; and that in my loneliness, He is there. I keep coming back to that realization over and over again…and this post is yet another reminder of that for me. Thank you, Alece.

  14. Anna says:

    This! Yes… This! Seriously, I was taught so many things about faith as a youth, then I grew up and had to walk it out and I seriously had to question every single thing I was taught, because what I faced didn’t miraculously disappear with that magic prayer of faith they taught me. Why not? Because we have to walk in this life and rely on Him to get through it. True faith is standing true to Him even when life is hard, unfair, and unruly. I found this to be true as I went through miscarriage after miscarriage and I was told by my church that it was my fault because I lacked faith and walked in fear. I had to remind myself that God loved me, believed in me enough to trust me with a child, to undue the message I heard when well intention-ed others told me, “It just wasn’t God’s time.”

    Faith is hard… sometimes it’s painful. Endure hardness with us as a good soldier of Christ (2 Timothy 2:3)

    I am still with you…. following you…. hoping all is well… What are you up to these days? Did you find a church yet?

    • “True faith is standing true to Him even when life is hard, unfair, and unruly.” Yes! This.

      (I’m doing well… And yes I’m going to church more regularly these days. I’ve got some amazing friends who have made that easier–which feels like a huge gift.)

  15. Alece–I know that raised up in the church lingo and its screwed with my now 33 year old, mama of three heart. I know that pushing, that laboring, that not fighting it but letting it happen real ness of pain. And your words here help me distinguish between the words I feel I’ve been fighting.. Equating God’s goodness & character with what he does. Or thinking he is going to do something horrible to me or my kids. I’m still wrestling, but know your words are an encouragement in this wrestling heart.

  16. Annie says:

    Love it.

  17. jessica says:

    what a great quote! thank you!!

  18. Mark Allman

    Reading this again today… great post Alece.

  19. Jordon says:

    Love this. It reminds me of the years I spent working in the field of chemical dependency. I spent the first few months thinking, “Gosh. I wish these people could just be delivered.” I wished I could just say a prayer and see their addiction disappear. What I came to understand over time was that I was wishing away the blessing of their struggle. Let me explain. I am sure that there *are* people who pray for deliverance and healing from addiction who wake up one day no longer feeling trapped and they never look back. For most addicts, though, that is not their story. Most addicts are not spared the struggle of recovery. Recovery is exceptionally hard work. It’s a battle that takes a lifetime of strength and perseverance, but if your heart is in it, that is where the transformation happens and where the blessings are. The constant awareness of one’s weakness and all of the potential consequences of a misstep forces a recovering addict to daily acknowledge their need. Their need for accountability, their need for support, their need to be held by their creator. People who are authentically fighting the daily battle of addiction know disappointment, pain and regret better than most but they also know forgiveness, peace and contentment better than many. These are blessings that one would never know by simply being airlifted past the worst parts of one’s journey.

  20. Amy Young says:

    This is so beautifully expressed. I’m crying — and it’s a mixture of joy and sorrow at the truth of this.

  21. daring says:

    Amen, and amen… … such a dangerous teaching promulgated by our mainstream churches and christian culture. I myself have come to the conclusion that life will only get worse as the days go on. I know that sounds so terribly fatalistic, but I don’t mean it quite the way that it sounds… I don’t mean that there is no hope… just that I do not expect things to always get better, because sometimes, they won’t… and it is in that not betterness…that we will still find our Hope. Though the world around us grows ever darker… the light never changes…it still shines… just as brightly as before.
    Honestly… people say… it will get better , this cant go on forever, really… it can’t? Where, where in the Bible does it promise things will get better? I remember where it says He will go THRU the fire and floods WITH us… I dont remember it saying that He would put the flames out… (nor am I saying that He isn’t all powerful and perfectly capable of doing such) I remember it saying that in our afflictions He was afflicted…I dont remember where it says that He took those afflictions away… I remember that it says He binds up our wounds… heals the broken heart…. not that He keeps it from being broken in the first place. What if, we all lived with the notion… that things might not get better? …but that He would get us through. That the roads would only get darker… that these times are to prepare us for even darker ones…
    I think that a lot of Christians make it through their trial… try to find the will to keep going… by clinging tightly to the idea that things will get better eventually…
    but… what if it doesn’t? would they, would you, still be able to go on? Could you honestly look at a future filled with tragedy and pain… stare it right in the face… knowing that there is no better… til you are safe on heaven’s shore? Could you see and know all that… and still cling tightly to the hand of He whose heart loves you beyond all measure?

  22. Katrina says:

    Oh my! Such incredible words (I’m a midwife too which makes it all the more special) — and definitely what my heart has been learning through the last few years, despite what I had traditionally observed at church :)
    Thank you so much for sharing!

  23. Xander

    “And yet this flies in the face of the breed of Christianity I was raised in.”

    Sadly, this is true for far too many people. I think we are finding a form of PTSD among Christians who are finding out that the warm and fuzzy teachings no longer seem relevant in a real world that is not dominated by the church. Thank you for sharing your message of hurt, hope and healing.

    • Ellie says:

      Ah yes. I once threw out a whole Sunday School curriculum because the message of “Jesus loves you and will keep you safe.” didn’t quite cut it for kids who had seen a massacre and blood bath in their church.

      Instead I taught the promises of God, and carefully explained to very young children that God allows evil to happen on earth because man chose to follow evil, but that He holds us in His hand, and nothing that man can do to us can remove us from his love. Not even death. I taught them the reality of a heaven where Jesus wipes the tears from our eyes. Tears. Because life hurts. And Jesus doesn’t always keep the bogeyman away despite what that Sunday School picture says under it.

      I taught them the story of Corrie ten Boom and two sisters who chose to love in the face of evil. We learned a lot that year, the kids and I.

    • i think you’re right about the PTSD…

  24. “God came down to the messy hell-hole that this life can be and chose to sit in it with me. He’s right here, sitting cross-legged beside me in the dirt.” Indeed. From one sitter-in-the-dirt to another, I’m so glad we don’t do it alone! And I am so incredibly grateful for another sister who knows both pain and grace. At the same time. That’s my address right now!

  25. Amanda says:

    I’ve come back to this post a few times to reread it. I needed this. I love the image of Jesus, “sitting cross-legged beside me in the dirt,” right where I need Him. This post, grouped with the title of your blog, is perfect. My husband and I lost a child this past fall, and a lot of my naivety about life was smashed to bits. This is the reality we live in, and it’s good to know the God is a part of that. He’s not confined to that unreachable, unrealistic vision so many have of what it means to be saved. Thank you so much for your honesty and willingness to share your gift for laying out the Truth.

  26. Andrea Garcia says:

    “I’m not spared. I’m held.”

    This reminds me of the beautiful words written by Natalie Grant in the song “Held”. It sits with me deeply each time I listen to it. I know you will appreciate the message she is conveying through her lyrics in this song.


  27. Mark Allman

    This post needs a spot under that one titled “The Hem of His Robe” up on the right. :) One of the best writings I have ever read.

  28. Ayla says:

    I don’t know how I missed this back in March. But yes, yes and yes. I think I came to this realization after my Dad’s death; that God came down to rescue me from eternal death not life on a fallen earth which is messy, unfair, painful, traumatic etc. Yes He does allow for moments of reprieve from life’s storms and we even experience “blessings” as we limited humans define it but the presence of God in the storms that are ultimately pruning us for a new life free of all of that junk is priceless and the sooner we get that the easier the transition between here and there will be. Love you Lec; honored to walk this journey with you friend.

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