Learning to rejoice

Jen Bradbury
Jan 20 · 5 min read

My husband and I have a New Years Eve tradition wherein we ask each other a series of questions in order to reflect upon our year together. Rather than use a prescribed list of reflection questions, ours differ by the year in order to uniquely reflect the events of that particular year.

This year, one of the questions my husband asked was “Who did you most enjoy telling our pregnancy news to?”

This was a fun – yet difficult - question for me to think about.

You see, in general, I've found it hard to tell people we're pregnant.

This isn't to say we aren't overjoyed. We are.

Pregnancy is something we've hoped for, prayed for, and dreamt about for a very long time.

However, having endured a painful miscarriage two years ago, it sometimes felt daunting to tell people about this pregnancy. Each time we've told someone about it I've wondered, “What if something goes wrong? How will we tell them that?”

I worried about this when we told our parents, close friends, and extended family the news.

Eventually, as my belly grew and keeping our news a secret became more and more impossible, we began sharing the news with our church family, including the teens I'm privileged to serve.

I told the first – a youth ministry alum - over Thanksgiving break. Over breakfast at a local restaurant, this girl asked me about how plans for our summer trips were progressing.

I answered by saying “Actually, I'm not going.”

Shocked, she replied, “WHAT?!?”

Immediately, I went on to explain that I was pregnant and the baby was due just before our summer trips.

This girl, who I've known since her freshman year of high school and mentored since her sophomore year, broke into a grin and burst into tears, peppering me with questions. Her joy for my husband and I – and her love for this baby – simply could not be contained. For that reason, she's who I immediately thought of when my husband asked me his question on New Years Eve.

A week or so later, we told the teens currently in our high school ministry. On a night when we talked about death and dying, we chose to tell our kids about the gift of life God has given us.

Now, as an introvert, I truly hate being the center of attention. As a result, I worried all day about how to tell the kids, wanting to do so in a way that wouldn't take away from the night's lesson.

Eventually, we made a last second decision to have the student leader responsible for doing our weekly announcements announce it. Just as he finished the night's announcements, my husband ran up to him with a folded sheet of paper saying, “You forgot one.”

The poor kid was so confused by this. So we told him to open up the paper and read it, word for word.

He read it once to himself – we know because his eyes just about popped out of his head as he asked us, incredulously, “I really get to announce this?!?” To which we said, “Yes.”

He proceeded to say that my husband and I were pregnant and that the baby was due in May.

Immediately, cheers erupted as kids jumped up and down and ran over to hug us, thrilled by our news.

In the weeks since then, their joy has not abated.

They've peppered us with questions, given us all kinds of suggestions for names, rejoiced with us over the baby's gender, and offered to do everything from babysit to be the baby's godfather.

For the teens in my youth ministry, pregnancy means only one thing: Life, not fear.

Because it does, they more than anyone else, are teaching me what it means to “rejoice with those who rejoice” or maybe more accurately in my case, to teach those whose joy is often overshadowed by fear, to rejoice.

Interestingly, in Scripture, this passage (Romans 12:15) says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”

As a youth pastor, I excel at the second half: Mourn with those who mourn. Heck, I've even taking counseling classes that have taught me how to do that better.

What I'm realizing I don't know how to do is “rejoice with those who rejoice”.

But thanks to the example of my teens, I suspect that by the time this baby arrives in May, I will have learned.