There was a moment - right in the last few seconds before Pascal burst into the world - when all the pain seemed too much. Like I couldn't be strong any longer.
I like to close everything out, when I'm hurting. Close my eyes, clench my teeth and fists and toes, close my attention to the world, and zoom out away from it all in my mind. Sit up on God's shoulders and just know it's happening from afar.
But I couldn't, right then. I needed to listen to my body, to be completely aware, to push along with the contractions.
So instead of bracing myself and squeezing my eyes shut, I found myself wide awake and present, looking up into the eyes of the two people who were waiting and hoping and labouring along with me.
"This is the hardest part," I gasped, feeling the fear start to rise, "I don't think I can do it."
And my mom's eyes shone like a lighthouse, so full of assurance and believing in me and - most of all - joy. "You can!" they sang, "you can! You can! You can!"
And with that, I did.
My mom's joy was my strength - and oh, just when I needed it.
You might not have your mom standing beside you in your hard moments. You might not have anyone physically present at all. But the scriptures assure this: the joy of the Lord is your strength.
And He rejoices over you with His song.
Wherever you are, whatever you are facing, I pray that you will open your eyes and look up. Look into the eyes of one who knows you - loves you - rejoices over you. Let Him be strong and joyful for you, when you fear you can't.
And see His eyes shine.
You can! You can! You can!