I can liken it to when you're in labor and naked and don't care who sees you anymore. I have no self-consciousness. I can look people straight in the eye and talk about life and death. I have no need to impress others or try to show them how well I'm doing or how "together" I am. And I no longer strive for those things...to have it "together" in the worldly sense has lost its allure entirely. The book, "Lament for a Son" by Nicholas Wolterstorff, puts this extremely well:
"The passion is cooled, the striving quieted, the longing stilled. My attachment is loosened. No longer do I set my heart on them. I can do without them. They don't matter. Instead of rowing, I float. The joy that comes my way I savor. But the seeking, the clutching, the aiming is gone. I don't suppose anyone on the outside notices. I go through the paces. What the world gives, I will accept. But what it promises, I no longer reach for."
People have always told me I looked younger than I am and I think in general, I've lived a fairly sheltered life. I was always the person people thought just looked nice...the kind of person who, if I walk by one of those people on the street trying to get donations or get a petition signed- they might skip a few people but they'll always stop me. And when someone banged into me on the street, it was always me saying, "Sorry!" even if it wasn't my fault at all. But now I feel as though I've shed that identity a bit. I am not sheltered anymore. I walk down the street slowly, comfortably.
I do not have fear in the same way I did before. My worst fear has already happened. I know what it feels like now...I do not fear death. No, I do not.
No worldly inconvenience will surprise me. Traffic...a long line at the grocery store, my heat not working, cigar smoke from our neighbor upstairs- all life's little irritants- no longer irritate me. I once heard a sermon years ago in which the speaker asked why it was usually all of those very small things- inconveniences - that made people the most upset and angry? Really, he said, it's because our highest goal is to be comfortable. I am not comfortable- that is not my highest goal.
When you are having labor contractions, you don't even give a thought to who is there and the fact that they are seeing you completely naked. Those searing pains that rise and fall like waves- don't allow for any other thoughts.
The pain frees you. The work must be done.