I got an email from a woman today. In an attempt to describe her life these days, she said, “I am white-knuckling clarity.”  I love that! So descriptive. So palpable. So familiar.

I wrote her back and told her I may blog on that three-word phrase, one that feels so indicative of what is true about women: our innate ability to persevere while bearing so much.

It would be one thing to just stay on the side of perseverance: grinning and bearing it, bucking up, holding our own. Any of those sound at all familiar? It’s another to just bear incredible weight: being a martyr, suffering in silence, keeping our truest feelings safely tucked inside. Sounds familiar too, doesn’t it?

But what does it mean to find clarity in the midst? And what about white-knuckling clarity? This woman is choosing to hang on, but not just for the sake of such. She is hanging on so that she can discern where she is, who she is, how she is to be. She is choosing to stay in the tension between persevering and bearing weight. She is holding on tight and keeping focus. She can acknowledge the high-stakes reality of life and the need to see and act with discernment and wisdom.

I could go on and on about this tension, this dualism, this so-very-familiar reality. But where I go for the sake of my own clarity is to the metaphor (and experience) of birthing. A natural miracle that is inherent only and powerfully to women – and not just those who physically give birth. All women instinctually bring forth life. To do so requires much perseverance and the bearing of much pain. To push new life into this world a woman must hold tension. She acknowledges the high stakes and acts with innate focus. She will persevere. She will bear much. She has white-knuckled clarity. Life is the result: hers and that of what she alone can bring forth into this world.

So, for those of you who are living in this tension – the temptation to just persevere or that of hunkering down and enduring endless labor – hang on! White-knuckled clarity is what you know best (whether you can believe it right now, or not). Hang on, stay focused, breathe, and trust in life! It cannot not arrive. Birth is inevitable. New life will come in and through you.

So I say, bring it on! I’m willing to keep pushing – white knuckles and all – even without an epidural! Life’s the result and that’s worth everything!