For example, the first time I attended my one and only prenatal class, the instructor told me if I breathed correctly during childbirth – it wouldn’t hurt. I believed him. A few days later my husband raced me to the hospital in the middle of the night because I’d sprung a leak. I sloshed up to labor and delivery where I found a nurse who ordered my husband to go back downstairs to check me in. Then she fired questions at me like a drill sergeant.
“Could I sit down, please?” I sheepishly asked.
Only slightly concerned, the nurse raised one eyebrow, told me to lie down then checked me.
“Oh my ______!” she screamed. “I’ve got to get a doctor!” (Screaming is not a reassuring thing to a woman in labor for the first time. Neither is cursing.) “Don’t push!” the nurse yelled excitedly as she dashed out the door. “Don’t push!”
Push what? I thought. I don’t want to push anything. I don’t feel so well.
A few moments later, a sleepy-eyed doctor dragged into the room, checked me and instantly ordered, “Don’t push!” He threw on some gloves, skidded to the foot of my bed and lunged toward me just in time to catch. Then my husband arrived, looking vaguely like a man from another planet in a white space suit.
“It’s a girl!” the doctor announced.
“Can I push now?” I asked the nurse.
“Push what?” she answered.
Why am I telling you this story? Because - this was my first experience with childbirth and I didn’t know I’d gone through the most difficult part of labor called transition on my ride to the hospital and that our baby was falling out. I thought I was experiencing the easy stuff and I had hours to go before I got to the hard stuff. The instructor at the prenatal class told me my first labor would be my longest – at least twelve hours. Because I had only attended one childbirth class, I didn’t know what was happening to me. My body and emotions were responding to what I thought was happening.
It works the same way in life. How we think about what is happening to us becomes what is happening to us. Thought control doesn’t necessarily take away the pain, but it helps us abide in all circumstances with a greater sense of calm. Like my doctor and nurse kept telling me – don’t push. We don’t have to push or force anything. We just have to be still and know God is in charge.