Updated: May 19
By Amy Odland
God's Brave Women - Amy's Story
I was almost to the pushing stage. After a week of on and off labor and a day of Pitocin to help things move along (with no epidural), I was an exhausted 37-year-old on the verge of having my fourth kid. I think I’d pushed a couple times before a nurse said we needed to get me onto my side. I certainly didn’t have the energy or strength left to do it myself, but with the help of my husband and a few nurses, I was somehow able to flip to my right side. I’d barely gotten situated when someone said, “Ok, now let’s flip to the other side.” I don’t remember specifics, but I’m pretty sure my response was “WHAT???” Flipping over from side to side is not easy for anyone who’s 9 months pregnant, much less for someone who’s dilated to 10cm and about to pass a watermelon between her hips.
Remember when Jesus was praying in the garden the night before his crucifixion, praying so earnestly he was “sweating blood?” Apparently, this is a condition called hematohidrosis - it is extremely rare and supposedly caused by stress and an involuntary nervous system reaction. His prayer that night was for God to take the “cup” away - he wanted to follow through with the plan of redemption through crucifixion, aka being the sacrifice God had planned for His people, but his body was sabotaging him. The emotional load he was carrying was so heavy he was at risk of his body failing before he made it to the cross. Luke’s gospel mentions an angel appeared and ministered to him during this time. Maybe because of that He was able to follow through with the plan? Whatever the case, he stayed the course and John 19:30 tells us what he said as he committed his spirit into His Father’s hands while hanging on the cross: “It is finished.”
"Sometimes people think finishing well only equates to “dying without regrets” or completing a marathon in order to get that coveted 26.2 sticker for your car. It’s much more. It’s not something we accomplish and cross off a list to never think about again. It’s an on-going and ever-evolving process... just like our daily faith and sanctification."
Sometimes people think finishing well only equates to “dying without regrets” or completing a marathon in order to get that coveted 26.2 sticker for your car. It’s much more. It’s not something we accomplish and cross off a list to never think about again. It’s an on-going and ever-evolving process... just like our daily faith and sanctification. God plants each of us where we should be; He also gives us specific gifts and abilities to use to tend the place we’re planted, our “gardens.” Aka, we have multiple tasks to complete and interactions with others facing us every day. What we can sometimes easily miss are the opportunities to finish well hidden among our daily minutiae. And when we feel like we can’t continue or do something hard, we forget we have more in us than our limited vision and thoughts usually lead us to believe. We forget so easily that the God who created the whole world dwells within us and helps us in our times of weakness by His power which is working within us. (Eph 3:20; John 14:26)
I was amazingly able to flip to my other side and finish the task of birthing my sweet girl that day 9 years ago... thanks to the human angels who were there to physically help me and some unseen angels who were probably also helping in ways I didn’t realize. I admit, though, to failing at finishing well plenty of other times in my life. My failures are not the end of my story, however - they are where redemption and forgiveness pick up and take the spotlight. Because I have a great high priest (Jesus) who is able to empathize with my weaknesses, I can boldly approach God’s throne of grace with confidence so I can find the mercy and grace I need in my time of need, in my times of weakness. (Heb 4:14-16) You can also find this grace and forgiveness - for the times you haven’t finished something well in the past and for the times ahead when you feel weak. You don’t have to do it all by yourself; you don’t have to pull yourself up by your bootstraps. Ask Jesus for help when the going gets tough. Jesus was our perfect example of the bravery of finishing well despite overwhelming stress or having your body fail you.
"You don’t have to do it all by yourself; you don’t have to pull yourself up by your bootstraps. Ask Jesus for help when the going gets tough. Jesus was our perfect example of the bravery of finishing well despite overwhelming stress or having your body fail you."
Does this mean we can’t take a nap or take care of our physical needs in other ways? No way. Jesus gave us plenty of examples of resting well during His ministry. Does this mean we should not know our limits or when to quit? Nope. The wise seek counsel (Prov 15:22) and know when it’s time to head to safety (Prov 22:3). Does it mean we don’t have to also finish well in our relationships with others? No again: “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (Romans 12:18)
Everybody likes to READ about someone who finished well, but very few want to go through the pain, trials, and hardship required before their heroic story can be retold… me included. So I remind myself daily that in order to be the hero I’d like to be in the story one day told about me - the story told about how I lived a life for Christ, about how I finished well - I need to choose to follow my Savior every day and chase after His will for my life. I need to rely on God to guide me through the tasks laid out for me to accomplish and in the ups and downs of my relationships with others. I need to allow God to carry me when I feel like I can’t continue on. Each day is a new chance to finish well; each day is a chance to try again when I fail. Lamentations 3:22-23 says, “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
Will you be brave, my friend, and choose to finish well with me?
Brave Woman Manifesto
Make sure to check back next week as another courageous Sister shares her story!
And by the way...
You are Brave!
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Amy's passion for being brave stems from her own struggles and lessons learned in her journey as a Christian since first deciding to follow Christ in 1994. After her faith comes family - husband, Rick, and their four kids - as well as extended family who all live close in proximity and the many friends she's made over the years. In addition to a love of teaching, Amy has recently expanded her stay-at-home bookkeeping work to include a different kind of "book" work... leading author's book launch teams for publishing companies like Baker, Revell, Barbour, Fortress Press, and Lifeway. She also enjoys helping new authors learn about platform building, self-launching, and online marketing as she develops her own writing skills. You can find her at amyodland.com or on most social platforms as @amy_odland.