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!

 

 

 

 

My Daughter’s Inner Voice

This morning started off as just an ordinary morning with my 9 month old daughter, yet it will always have a profound and lasting impact on me as a mother.

After our morning kisses and cuddles, we got out of bed and I set her up with a few toys to play with while I brushed my teeth and got myself ready for the day. While standing at the sink, I found myself feeling a little  discouraged about my body and where I am physically in my postpartum journey. I had expected things would be going back to normal faster than they have. I expected I wouldn’t be as tired as I have been as a new mother and would have had the energy for the workouts I’d love to do. Yet, as I stood at the sink, I found myself lifting my shirt to examine with disappointment the battle scars I have on my lower abdomen from late in my pregnancy. The negative thoughts I had quietly in my head were screaming so loudly through the look on my face. Feeling two little eyes gazing up at me, I looked down to see my baby girl standing there, with one arm holding herself up against the bath tub and the other holding her own shirt up as she examined her own tummy.

Oh, my. What am I doing?

Sure, she’s just 9 months old and was just innocently mimicking her mama as she loves to do lately. But make no mistake, my actions were ultimately teaching her that it is ok to have negative thoughts about yourself and to give into the pressures of this life to feel you are anything less than uniquely beautiful in God’s eyes – no matter how you look.

Although it is reasonable to want to lose a little weight and wish away the marks on my abdomen, the problem was my heart behind it this morning. I was trying to live up to unreasonable expectations based off of other people that do not match up with my reality. I am recognizing this morning that as her mother, my voice  and attitude about myself will greatly influence my daughter’s inner voice about herself. I want to treat myself better in order to teach her that beauty is not the sum of your gravitational pull and overall outward appearance. Beauty is what flows from the heart through your actions. It’s how you love yourself and how you love others. I was not loving myself well this morning and it is a blessing I have had this revelation while my daughter is so young.

This is just one small part of the endless journey to try and thrive on grace! This is MY journey! I needed this reminder to be grateful for the amazing body God has given me that gave LIFE to my daughter. Every mark is worth it. It was an important reminder to love myself, accept the things I cannot change, and work harder with a positive attitude to change the things I can. But most of all, it was a reminder to always be confident and kind to myself, as little eyes are looking up to me.