Do you remember 5 or 10 years ago, when it seemed like everyone was a photographer? Opening their own business, buying fancy cameras, photographing their friends’ children? Today, it seems to me like everyone is becoming a doula. It’s the new thing.
Becoming a doula, for me, was a little bit like the people in 1 Samuel who thought they needed a king. Except that for me, what I needed was a thing.
I remember sitting at my kitchen table over 5 years ago, and asking God, “Should I do it? Is this my thing that I am called to do and be?”
As I proceeded to seek out some kind of mentor, I quickly came up short on options. The doulas I reached out to for guidance either didn’t respond to my emails, or had left the practice altogether. That was when God led me to Psalm 32:8:
“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.” Next to this verse in my Bible, I wrote, “Be a doula.”
And so it began: the path of a becoming a Christian doula with God as my mentor laid itself before me, right smack in the middle of a surprisingly secular field. In a culture where people question or even disdain the patriarchal values of Christianity and elevate the woman, instead, as creator. Where they post pictures on Facebook of their nursing breasts or birthing vaginas and are appalled if anyone complains. (Sorry about the “V word”; doula here). Where they do henna art and belly binding and placenta encapsulation; yoga and babywearing and organic everything. (Here’s the disclaimer: Not that all of these things are bad, per-se, but let’s face it: the birthing community can be a little bit out there.)
It’s been a lonely walk sometimes, but as a true non-conformist – not the kind with tattoos, although I have them, but as the kind who has been blessed/cursed with the kind of personality that squirms with annoyance at the idea of trying to “fit in”- I have been able to walk my path with dignity, and have enjoyed it immensely.
I know the non-Christian or left-wing believers out there probably imagine me to be one of those jerks who applauded the Planned Parenthood shooter last week. (Nope.) But what they don’t know is…well…first of all, they don’t know me…but what they also don’t know is what it’s like for a Christian doula like me to attend births. The way I nestle into God’s shoulder and just wait for Him to show Himself to me, teaching me about His character and His true self, while we support a new mother and usually her husband, through birth.
I’ll never forget the time my faith-filled friend threw back her head in gratitude and called out in thanks to God for her unborn child, while in the deepest possible throes of labor. It felt as if the clouds pulled back and the sky laid bare as God said to me, “Remember this.” Or the time God spoke scripture to a laboring woman through her own mouth, using a verse she didn’t even know she knew. Or when a new mother wept uncontrollably with JOY after a beautiful delivery that followed a previous birthing trauma. Just to name a few…these are the kinds of miracles I witness. The ways God shows up.
And then there are the ways God has challenged me.
The way He gently requested that maybe I could share my testimony in my class, with all of its vulnerability and shame, ultimately ending in a song of praise for everything He is to me. Or the times He has shown me that my idolatry of this thing was getting in the way… The ego battle of self-advertisement (ugh–it’s the worst!)…and lastly, laying His hand heavy on my heart as I observed other doulas begin to align, while Christian doulas continued to duke it out. There has been a lot I have had no control over and a lot that has been extremely self-powered. Humbling to say the least.
What I have come to see is that in telling me “Be a doula,” God was saying just what he was saying to the Israelites who were so sure they needed a king. He gave them what they asked for: a flawed, unprepared, disappointing human leader. “Here is your king.” Because what they failed to understand in the first place was, they already had a King.
In my seeking for calling and place in His kingdom, He had something similar for me. Giving me what I was so sure I needed, “Here is your thing.” Yes, He has blessed and used it in some really amazing ways. But the truth is, I was already His. My identity, my fate, my contribution, were already sealed in His book. I could have done nothing at all, and my name would still be written there.
This adventure has grown me and tried me and on some days, almost ruined me. But through it all, what God was really showing me is this. A lesson I would not trade for the world, and one that even in my striving God has been able to use for good. Through all of these things, good and bad and fun and difficult, I have learned to stop and rest my head on his shoulder and just wait for his word. I have learned about pushing forward when he says stop (and how fruitless and frustrating that is) and how thoroughly things move when he says it is time.
What I have learned is that I don’t need a thing.
What I need is my King.
Jennifer DeBrito, CSP, CCLD, CCBE is a Master Splankna Practitioner Colorado Springs Doula and Childbirth Educator.She is the author of Expectant Parents Workshop: Devotional, and the creator of the Expectant Parents Workshop childbirth preparation class. Jennifer was the 3-time doula to Suzanne Hadley Gosselin (esteemed author of Expectant Parents, a pregnancy/childbirth/parenting book by Focus on the Family). In addition to coaching expectant parents toward a Christ-centered childbirth, Jennifer also specializes in prenatal and postpartum wellness coaching and Splankna Therapy Colorado Springs. Jennifer is a featured blogger for My719Moms.com. To learn more about Jennifer, go to EdensPromiseLLC.com.