If you’re like many, you may not have heard the word “doula” before. It’s a word that represents someone who helps a woman in childbirth. Doulas have been around for thousands of years and are often described like a mid-wife, but they usually aren’t the ones actually delivering the baby. Rather, the focus of the doula is on easing the mother’s laboring discomfort and encouraging and supporting her through the pain.
After delivering my son in a very traumatic birth experience, I decided any future births would be assisted by a doula. I just so happened to have two great friends who were doulas. This worked out perfectly for my last two births. When my baby girls came into this world, I needed the support of someone other than my husband who, as loving and well-intentioned as he was, had no real clue as to how to help me through the absolute toughest physical moments of my life. These ladies took turns rubbing my back or my feet; speaking in soothing tones words of encouragement and affirmation; wiping my brow with a wet cloth; feeding me ice chips; dousing me in essential oils; and cheering me on until my babe was safely in my arms.
It occurred to me not long after my first doula-supported birth experience that we, as women, or really we, as human beings, need doulas for life… particularly in the hard times. One of the mental roadblocks I had to having a doula with me, specifically one who was my friend, was that I would not have any privacy. Childbirth is messy, gross, beautiful, and hard! They were going to be all up in my personal business and there would be no physical privacy. Any amount of crazy I experienced during the pains of childbirth would be fully exposed to people who knew me well. I wouldn’t be able to hide anything.
We need that in life. We need people who can be all up in our business, who see it all. We need people we can’t hide the crazy from. If we can be real in front of people, then we can receive the support we need. We need spiritual doulas who are willing to get in the mess and the pain and the hard and the beautiful of our lives. In this way, we can be encouraged, spurred on, pushed toward the end goal, and be uplifted as we navigate this journey of life.
We need to be spiritual doulas for others. We need to be willing to walk alongside other women in their darkest, hardest, messiest hours, so that something beautiful and blessed and sacred can come out on the other side.
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,” (Hebrews 10:24)
“But exhort one another daily, as long as it is called today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” (Hebrews 3:13)
“Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep.” (Romans 12:15)
“Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.” (Galatians 6:1)
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
Who in your life is a spiritual doula for you? Is there someone who needs you to become their spiritual doula? Ask the Lord to help you answer these questions and equip you with the gifts needed to minister to others around you.
“God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.” (Hebrews 6:10)
That’s me on the left and the rest of these gorgeous blondes are some of my Spiritual Doulas.
Top photo of me with my 3rd child courtesy of Deidre Ruth Photography.
3 thoughts on “Spiritual Doulas”
Amen! We must reach out. Lost or not. This is carrying our cross. Loving even when your hurting yourself. Cry together, love together. Let your light shine. Thanks for sharing Joy.
This really hits the mark! Being vulnerable to someone else, totally exposed in all our imperfections is not easy. But what we get in return is priceless! Someone who truly loves us, just as we are, no masks, no put ons, just us.
I am just beginning a course in Christian spiritual direction. Over the past 2 weeks as I have read the materials and spoken to several spiritual directors, many people have said that the term ‘spiritual director’ is a misnomer. I just googled the term ‘spiritual doula’ as it seems to have more of the right ‘feel’ to it in terms of what I see myself doing: walking alongside another, being present, and seeking to find the hand of God at work in any circumstance. You have described it so well here…. I wish that I could claim the term!