“The Lord is with you when you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you...Be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.”
-2 Chronicles 15
The last two weeks have been rough. All of a sudden I was anxious, panicked, not able to rally- just things that are so NOT me, never been my struggles or anything I’ve had to deal with. I couldn’t mentally override anxiety or thoughts. I've never had Postpartum Depression, but I had just hit the 3 month postpartum mark, which is when most of PPD symptoms set in, so I thought maybe that could be it?
I made sure all my external factors were in place; I was eating right, exercising every single day, getting enough sleep, getting in a few hours of alone time every week, spending time with just Matt, having fun with the kids, etc. Life was going great; my work editing and writing for my friend's company was going great, and I was being used in an increasing role with the graphics department. Matt's business was going well, our marriage was great, I loved my kids and we didn't have any more foster care craziness to deal with, we had so much more than we needed and every day was filled with friends and summer and mountains and everything else I love.
Every box was checked, but still I would have bouts of anger and just feeling lost, like I didn’t know who I was.
True, there were a few stressful things in my life. A toxic relative tried contacting me and playing manipulative mind games, Matt has been having a lot of Crohn’s flare ups, he was working long hours and weekends, switching schools for Jamison, adopting Judah, Emre’s month long stay in the NICU, Coen and his daily care and therapy and worries of a special needs parent, etc. It’s been a crazy year, but I feel like I’ve been crushing it, up until I just wasn’t sure of who I was anymore and just being nagged by temptation after temptation in my head, in the most random areas of my life.
Did you know faith is listed as a spiritual gift in the New Testament? This one is what I think I have been given. I am definitely not a teacher (LOL for anyone who knows me), I’m not prophetic, I don’t speak in tongues. But I have always had a strong faith that even in the midst of my mistakes or discourse has never left me. I can tangibly feel God with me, around me, and he has never left me, and I have always drawn close to him even when I didn’t know how to do it. Every time my feet have wandered he has plucked me up and set me on the right path. But for the past few weeks, for the first time in my life I was plagued with temptations, doubts, anxiety. I had to exercise a muscle I haven’t used in a while, like conscientiously choosing him and choosing to say no to the temptations over and over and over again.
It was mentally exhausting.
After a week or so I could tell something was off. Even when the temptations went away I felt drained from fighting to not give in to my heart’s emotions but to choose God over and over, every single second a conscious effort to choose him. I thought maybe I needed to see a therapist, but for anyone who knows me sitting down and talking about internal pain or turmoil is literally hell on earth and I would rather be doing literally almost anything else. But I also have a few friends with depression and anxiety, and have seen the huge benefit of therapy and medicine when it comes to correcting brain chemistry, and if this was simply a hormonal/chemistry imbalance, then I wanted to address it and fix it so I wouldn’t have to live like this any longer. As much as I hate dealing with pain or confrontation, the sooner it’s over and fixed, then the faster I don’t have to deal with it and can move on to better things, right?
I reached out to a friend who could suggest some Christian therapists and counselors, because I knew that if I called the women’s clinic at the hospital that would be the first thing they recommended, but I wanted to talk to someone who was a Christian and would view life through the same lenses that I do, if they were to be of help to me.
I knew that healing without God would be impossible, and that as much as I could be helped with other things, they would be only as effective as band aids over a gaping wound if I didn’t seek God first and foremost, and make sure I was right with him as I sought answers and healing. If my heart wasn’t focused on God, nothing else would work.
I called my best friend and told her what I was struggling with, and confided in my hubby that I thought something was wrong with me, and here was the rational methods I had taken to fix it and here is what was still missing. The second I reached out to my friends, they began to pray. I told a handful more what I was struggling with and feeling, and was surrounded by prayer and love and advice, but mostly just prayer, prayer, prayer.
It’s been a few days, and I’m not ruling out not needing any help or if this was in fact Postpartum Depression, but you guys- it is amazing how much my life has changed in 48 hours. I can tell beyond a shadow of a doubt those prayers were heard. My heart and head are so changed. I am no longer facing temptation for self destruction of everything good in my life at every corner. I feel deep, deep joy that is there even when all 75% of my kids are screaming/crying at the same time. I am happy, I am content, I am moving forward joyfully confident in the face of unknowns and have hope.
God is so good.
Prayer works. Obviously sometimes medicine and therapy and other tools are needed and can be just as God ordained, but I can personally testify to the power of community and fellowship in the body of Christ.
The doubts and fears and uncertainty whispered that I should be ashamed, shouldn’t confide, what if I was judged, what if I came across as broken, etc. But I ignored those doubts and fears and vulnerably confessed to trusted sisters in Christ that something was wrong. I opened up and sought advice, and in that community found peace and healing through prayer.
If you are ever struggling, please please don’t listen to the voices that say you shouldn’t reach out. There is such power in being open and doing life together, in earnestly seeking God. I don’t know where I’d be without the power of a God who is moved by prayer, and the heartfelt sincere prayer of those wonderful women who took time to pray and text me and check in to make sure I was ok.
It is crazy what a turnaround has occurred just this week alone. I would never in a million years claim to know all the answers or a magic formula for fixing every problem or temptation that comes your way, but I do know what I have lived. In my life I have witnessed the complete exhaustion that spiritual attack can wreck in your life, and I have witnessed the more powerful redemptive healing and restoration that can come through prayer from a community of believers and the God that we know, who will never leave us and promises throughout history to draw close to us if we seek him out.
If you ever need prayer, or need to be vulnerable, please don’t listen to any thoughts of shame or doubt or fear. If you can’t reach out to a friend close to you, I am here and will happily earnestly pray on your behalf, with every confidence that God hears our prayers, that the Holy Spirit intercedes for you, and that Jesus himself faced whatever you are facing now.
Thank you thank you so much to the women who prayed for me. There may still be more work ahead, and maybe it will involve some sort of medicine or therapy or both, and I have witnessed how both have been so beneficial in my friends’ healing with PPD and/or anxiety, and how God has used those in their lives.
Personally, I knew taking care of my relationship with God was 1st of my agenda, and I am so grateful to be at peace with him and to once again feel like myself.
“Get to know well your father’s God; serve him with a whole heart and eager mind, for God examines every heart and sees through every motive. If you seek him, he’ll make sure you find him, but if you abandon him, he’ll leave you for good. Look sharp now! God has chosen you to build his holy house. Be brave, determined! And do it!”
-1 Chronicles 28:9-10
A friend of mine posted this picture on social media last week, and I set it as my lock screen for my phone, so anytime (which was basically every minute) I felt pulled or pushed or uncertain I would look at my phone and go down this checklist. None of what I was hearing was from God, and it helped me to rationally turn off the damaging thoughts and focus on God instead. A friend of mine saved it for her lock-screen too, and I'd encourage you too in the rough patches in life, or anytime you feel anxious, to check those fears against this list. Or find another way to keep tangible evidence of God's goodness and truth visible to you at any moment.
Please continue to prayer for me and our family. I know that has made a difference, and I can feel it in my very soul and body. I am so grateful to be surrounded and do life together with all of you. Thank you for walking through the good, bad and ugly with me; can't promise it's the last time but I can promise that God will never leave us and will use us with each other for his good. It's not really fun to stand up and loudly proclaim, "I HAVE ISSUES!" But I will loudly proclaim it over and over again if it gives the opportunity to encourage others to not feel isolated, to seek out God, and to join together in prayer as we walk through this life together.
"But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me."
-2 Corinthians 12:9