His Strength in Our Weakness

Ah, social media.

What a marvelous tool we have at our fingertips to keep in touch with loved ones!  It’s great to see what people are up to through social media, but are you getting the full picture?

We see what others want us to see. Some people are more transparent than others, and that’s OK.

I recently shared something with a friend that I’ve been going through and she was both brokenhearted for me and also completely shocked.

I have been diagnosed with moderate depression.

After feeling off for the past two years and trying everything to get myself back to feeling like myself again, all to no avail, I knew I had to get professional help. It took three doctors to get me to realize that there was something wrong chemically in my brain. They all concluded it was a mixture of post-partum depression, possibly situational depression, but nonetheless: it was happening to me. I never thought it would, and it did.

I always try to be a positive and upbeat person. A silver lining seeker, a glass half-full believer. After I had a baby, I never felt so alone and hopeless. This made ZERO sense to me in reality. I had the sense that my thinking and feelings were flawed, but I couldn’t shake them. I had the reality of a blessed life with my family, my sweet baby girl, and all God has given us. Yet I had this overwhelming sense of hopelessness I could not shake. I hated that I felt so down, I was ashamed of it.

I went through about a year of just barely going through the motions. I was chronically sleep deprived with Tessa that first year, and it was the hardest time of my entire life. I had no idea how much getting little sleep could negatively affect your life until I had a child who wouldn’t nap more than 20 minutes at a time or sleep longer at night than 1-2 hours every night for  the majority of her first 1.5 years. It actually was more physically and emotionally draining than any other trauma I’ve endured. I tried several different methods, read books, etc, to get her to sleep more and none of them worked except time. She’s a pretty good sleeper now, thank God, good routines, and Essential Oils. Thank God He makes babies so adorable because, man, that was rough! But I love her so much, even when we went through such a hard time together.

I always felt an inherent sense of gratefulness for Tessa, never blamed or resented her, I wanted to help her sleep because I bet she was just as miserable as I was, if not more! I am grateful my depression was not so bad and I still had somewhat of a grip on reality. Many women who suffer from post-partum depression have had it much worse than me, and my heart breaks for those families. I am so grateful to God for giving me what I could handle and seeing me through it. I am on the healing side of this now, however this is still very difficult to write.

When my friend was so surprised to hear about my struggles, it made me think about how I am perceived by others. Something that’s always been a part of my nature is to be stoic. I don’t hang on to the negative, so I usually don’t talk about it either. I accept things, grieve internally, move on, and truly don’t let things get to me. When I am upset, handling myself from a place of strength and poise has always been important to me. These are not inherently bad things, however I have found so much of God’s power in my weakness by sharing it with others. We are not called to be prideful and stoic, to suffer alone and live in darkness. Through talking more openly about my depression I have learned the value of bringing our struggles to light, and seeing them in the light of God’s truth through scripture and the encouragement of others.

I’ve been learning a lot about this lately and it’s caused me to feel compelled to be more transparent about my struggles. Obviously, I never mean to suggest people should air their family’s struggles online, out of respect for the family unit that is not always appropriate. However, my own personal struggle with depression is something God has called me to share. Keep in mind, sharing your struggles may look differently for different people, too. But I urge you, if you are struggling, talk to someone you trust about it. Seek help. Seek God! You can get better. You will get better if you truly want to!

I’ve gone through so much in the past few years, lots of change in general. I have learned that God has given us the ability to feel emotions, we need to let ourselves feel them and lean on Him to deal with them. So often, while trying to remain positive, I have suppressed real emotions! Life is not always going to be sunshine and roses. It’s going to get messy, and that is alright. It’s how you deal with the mess that counts! And guess what? God loves us anyway, despite the mess.

I am so grateful for my life and my precious daughter. I am thankful to God for all this blessing of a baby has taught me about His love, about life, and about myself. I have grown in ways I never had anticipated. Depression is just a short season of my life, a drop in the bucket. This isn’t going to define me or be the end of my story, and it doesn’t have to be the end of yours either.  I have so many fond memories of Tessa and me during those years. I don’t want to let my depression taint my memories of Tessa’s baby years. I so badly want to go back in time and soak them up a little more, though. Ah, life.

Find the things you love and pursue them with your whole heart. Seek Jesus. Seek true JOY in the Lord. Know that you are so loved by a God who gave it ALL for us, while we are sinners. Yes, I am talking to myself in all of this and sharing it because God did not call us to do this life alone.

God says in 2 Cor. 12:9 “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” For this reason, among others, I’ve chosen to share my struggle. I am nothing in my own power without the Lord. This season of depression left me feeling weak, unworthy, unlovable, and hopeless. But God says His power is made PERFECT in our weakness. Out of this weakness, I am stronger because of the Lord, and good therapy! God will not waste any hurt or any negative experience, He will work it together for good. He comforts us and so we must comfort others. If you are hurting today, I would love to talk to you. Take heart in 2 Cor. 1 and know that you are SO loved and worthy of love. Again, talking to myself, too!

 

 

 

 

Live Free, Love Others, Be Fruitful

Learning to be Bold & Brave

Galatians 5 – Christ Has Set Us Free! (ESV)

“For freedom in Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1

I’m about to get really honest with you all right now. Writing is my chosen form of therapy, after all.

One of the themes of my adult life that I strive for has been to live freely in Christ. Along with Jesus up on that cross also went MY sins. There is no reason for me to live in the shadow of sin so long as I am in Christ. Whoever believes in Him will have eternal life.

Fear. It’s a crippling thing, really. It’s handicapped a lot of my adult life, in fact. Most people who know me probably wouldn’t guess that, though. I’m relatively outgoing, outspoken, and yet introverted all at the same time. If I had to guess the reason for fear & anxiety it would be some mixture of dealing with a parent with addiction, loss of a parent, loss of loved ones in general, low self-esteem, to name a few. I’ve had multiple chances to do well with various endeavors yet either failed to fly, wouldn’t jump, or self sabotaged. I’ve spent a lot of time healing and learning healthier coping mechanisms. F.E.A.R. It’s crippling. I wasn’t willing to bet on myself for too long.

Fear of failure can debilitate you, like it did me. When I commit to something, I am usually all in and going to try my hardest to perfect it. Yet for so many years, I battled fear and anxiety. This is why the idea of “living freely” in Christ has meant so much to me. Jesus knows me, he loves me, and he cares for me. He died so that I may have a life worth living.

Obviously, I haven’t conquered all my fears. I am still humbly asking for God’s guidance with this daily, and probably always will. I write this from a place of humility, wanting to walk alongside others struggling, too. But God is SO GOOD and so lovingly reminds me to “live freely”, on occasions when I need it most. A Pastor will give a sermon about it, I’ll hear a song on the radio, or like today, when I really needed it, I’ll be led to read Galatians 5. “Christ has set us Free, stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.” Here, it talks about legalism going on in that time in history and how Christ has freed them from the laws to prove their faith. Instead, all we need to do is believe and trust in Jesus as our Savior to be saved. Today, these verses tell me to be free from my sin, fear, and anxiety to trust that God will lead me well if I let him. Jesus has set me free and I can feel safe being bold and brave so long as I am walking hand in hand with Christ, being led by the Spirit.

“What is important is faith expressing itself in love.” Galatians 5:6

As I keep walking as Christian, a wife, a mother, a sister, a daughter, a friend, and a woman, I pray that I have the strength in Christ to drive out fear and live boldly!

Jesus has changed my life and the idea of living freely in Christ means I will be betting on myself again. I’ll be betting on my success because Jesus CAN and will heal my tendency toward fear and anxiety. I want to be a shining example of strength for my daughter.

This year I will be jumping OUT of my comfort zone, in faith, that God will help land me on my feet. What are you doing to get out of your comfort zone and what is your source of strength? I would love to hear about your journey, too. Please leave a comment or send me a message about it. God bless!

Love others, be free. 

 

 

 

About Me

The Voice of Thriving on Grace:

I’m Kristen, creator of Thriving on Grace, mother of one beautiful baby girl. We are a Christian family trying to do our best to keep Christ at the center of our home and we are no strangers to struggles along the way. We do love, grace, forgiveness, friendship, courage, honesty, and kindness! I am a childhood cancer survivor and, as a result, I was raised to be health conscious, to do whatever we could to keep ourselves healthy. You can’t prevent everything, but you can guard against a whole lot! I am grateful to my mother for instilling a strong will to live the best life I can and to always read nutritional labels. I’m grateful for my sister for lighting an even deeper spark in me, igniting my inmimitable interest in the world of cooking, food production, health and wellness! We’ve found that the more we’ve all learned, the more we want to know. I wanted to join the online community and be a voice for good in the sometimes shadowy world of cyber space. I want to share things I’ve learned while on this journey toward whole mind and body wellness from my perspective as a young Christian mother and wife. I also hope to interact with others who may have similar goals, share inspirations, and learn from them. I hope you find something of help or positive value to you on my blog, regardless of your faith, stage of life, or worldview.