Some folks just say the darndest things, don’t they? Here was my exchange with a man and his wife after Mass yesterday.
“So how much longer you got?” the man asks while pointing at my belly.
“Oh I still have three months to go. I’m due October 22.”
His eyes got a little bigger and then exclaimed, “Woah! Are you sure you don’t have twins in there?”
I’m thinking, Hey buddy, I don’t think you’ll be blowing away in the wind anytime soon yourself there! “Yeah, ha ha ha, last time the doctor checked, there’s only one babe in there. I guess I just make ‘em big,” as I point to my very tall children, a 4-1/2 year old and 18-month old who could easily pass for 7 and 2 respectively.
But if that’s not enough, even after I set the record straight, the man’s wife still approached my husband Joel and said, “No, I really think there are twins in there.”
Maybe in three months if, and that’s a big-ol’ whopping if, I deliver twins I’ll look back on this encounter and laugh hysterically. But for now I’m wondering what possesses a person, no TWO persons, to say such things to a pregnant woman.
Woe is me. It isn’t the first time I’ve heard such comments.
While pregnant with Lucy I worked outside the home and vividly remember when, at about the same 6-month mark, a coworker approached me in the office hallway and shouted, “Are you sure you aren’t having twins?!” so that anyone within a 50,000-foot radius heard her. It was all a little ironic and sad because I actually had been pregnant with twins but we lost one baby early in the pregnancy. At the time, the comment stung more because of that reality.
For whatever reason, I begin to look very pregnant at about the sixth month mark. ‘Tis what it is. I’m 5’4″ with a short torso — where’s the baby gonna go, people? And I do make big, healthy babes. For what it’s worth, the average newborn in America weighs in at 7 pounds, 7.54 ounces. Lucy weighed 8 pounds, 8 ounces at birth (which by the way is the ideal size for a newborn according to one medical expert, thank you very much!). Jude entered this world a very healthy 10 pounds, 8 ounces. And this one? Well, time will tell. If he or she is another 10-pounder, then so be it. I am grateful for delivering strong and healthy babies; it’s better than the alternative.
Still, those “ohmygosh, you are so huge!” comments … well, they really are hard to hear.
* * *
Thankfully I heard something else on Sunday morning, a message far greater and more powerful than any indignation I felt over a silly comment made by a nice, and yes they were nice, couple. That message comes to us from Luke 10:25-37, the Parable of the Good Samaritan.
Jesus tells a story of a brutal highway robbery that leaves a Jewish man lying half-dead by the roadside. As the parable goes, two men, a priest and a Levite, see the victim by the side of road yet pass by without stopping to help. A third man, a Samaritan, an outsider who would have been despised by Jews, is the one who stops to treat the victim and shows true neighborly compassion and mercy to another in dire need. We typically focus on the Samaritan’s actions in this parable, but it wasn’t simply his actions that gave him the “Good Samaritan” title. It was also the posture of his heart. The Samaritan first loves, and then that love motivates him into action to help the injured Jewish man. True love motivated him to help a “neighbor” in need.
* * *
So what the heck does my ever-expanding belly and a couple rude comments have to do with the Good Samaritan? Here’s the nugget I’ve been chewing on. I’ve three months to go, folks, and I bet plenty more comments about my appearance and weight will still be hurled my way. While my physical posture may stink because of this growing babe in my womb, the posture of my heart doesn’t have to equally stink. I really wanted to point to the guy’s belly and tell him it looked like he was pregnant with twins, too. Thankfully this time, probably due to the parable I had just heard, love took hold of my tongue and shut off my auto-snark response. And that’s the thing about love — true love for God compels us to show charity toward our neighbors, even those who say the darndest of things.
Maybe you aren’t the frequent recipient of such pregnant jokes, but chances are there is someone who’s always hanging around and no matter how well-intentioned this person is, he or she just says or does the rudest of things, making it really hard for you to show love, to be love, in return. In that moment, remember the parable of the Good Samaritan and the posture of his heart — he first loves, and then that love motivates him into performing good deeds.
Any of this sound familiar? Have your own personal parable to tell? Share below!(Hat tip to Mark Hart’s Beyond Words reflection for planting the “posture of his heart” thoughts on my heart these last 24-hours.)