Becoming a mom was a perplexing process for me. On one hand, it was pure joy. The sparkle in my kids’ eyes, the pureness of their laughter, the magic of watching them grow and develop. Some moments were like heaven on earth and I would think to myself:
“IT COULDN’T GET ANY BETTER THAN THIS!”
But then there’s this mysterious other hand. The critical, fearful and emotionally unstable one. I’ve always struggled with my self image, especially being a highly sensitive person. But becoming a mom seemed to put all my insecurities and downfalls on overdrive in a 360° mirror. The one where I think to myself:
“I’M DOING EVERYTHING WRONG!”
After my son, our second child, stopped nursing, something went haywire in my body. My emotions were out of control. I was in Sensory Overload all the time. I was crippled with fear that something bad would happen to me or someone in my family. And worst of all, I reached the point where I truly believed my loved ones would be better off without me. I would say things to myself like: “My husband would be happier with a different wife.” “My kids would be so much better off with a different mom.”
One Friday afternoon after putting my kids down for their nap, my body went numb and my heart felt like it would beat out of my chest. I thought I was having a heart attack! It turns out, I was actually having a panic attack. Through connections at my MOPS group, I was given a plethora of resources to help me navigate what was happening to me: the two most life changing being the name of a trusted Christian Therapist and an introduction to a program called Life Skills.
It turns out I was dealing with clinical depression, generalized anxiety disorder and OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). These disorders magnified my already crippling shame, guilt, fear and self sabotage. And I hit rock bottom.
IN THE MIDST OF ALL THIS CHAOS, I HAD A PIVOTAL AND PERSONAL EXPERIENCE WITH GOD.
I was sitting on the couch in my living room and it’s like He just came and sat down beside me. He saw how heartbroken I was, so He knelt down in front of me, cupped His holy hands around my tear-stained face and talked to me: Daddy to daughter. He said:
“ANDREA, I’M HERE. I’M RIGHT HERE WITH YOU. I’VE GOT YOU.
I know you’re afraid. It’s like standing on the shore of the ocean and watching a storm head right towards you. The rain is pouring and the wind is ripping around you. I know that feels scary. I know you’re looking at that storm wondering if you’ll make it out alive. So HOLD ONTO ME. I’VE GOT YOU.
The journey in front of us is going to be hard – REALLY hard. It’s going to hurt and things will get worse before they get better. At times, you’re going to feel like you’re drowning. The waves are huge and the storm is strong, but KEEP HOLDING ONTO ME. I’VE GOT YOU. There’s no way around this storm. We have to go through it. As you follow Me out into the water – yes, I said ‘out into the water’ – your perspective will slowly begin to change. The fears that gripped you and held you captive on the shore will be the same fears that lead you into my perfect peace. PUT YOUR TRUST IN ME AND LET ME GUIDE YOU STEP BY STEP. Because each step is important. Each step you take with Me – through your hurts, through your pain, through the tears – will lead you further from the shores of your fear and closer to the GOOD THINGS waiting for you up ahead. I know you can’t see it now, but I promise you I’m going to use all of this. All of it. So keep holding onto me. I’VE GOT good things in store for YOU!”
Dear friend, have you ever felt this way? Like you were going to drown in the midst of your storm?
Be encouraged, dear one, GOD IS TRUE TO HIS WORD. He walked me through that storm every step of the way. Was it hard? Yes. Did I feel like I would drown? Yes. But did I? No! I slipped on some rocks and fell a few times, but I made it through that storm by the loving and direct guidance of my good, good Father.
So what are the GOOD THINGS God had in store for me?
BEAUTY. INSPIRATION. CONFIDENCE.
BEAUTY FROM ASHES. Walking with God through the storm helped me grasp that God really does make beautiful things out of dust… out of us. Anxiety and depression broke me into a million pieces. I thought I was done for good. But, similar to the art of Kintsukuroi, God put me back together again as we walked through the storm. And I can honestly say now: I am more beautiful for having been broken.
INSPIRATION FROM AGONY. People want to know they’re not alone. Truly. As we face the various and unique storms of life, it’s like oxygen to the lungs to meet someone who vulnerably puts their hand up and says “me too”. All too often we sit in silence and the life in us is slowly being stolen by fear. My prayer is to open the door into the rooms that are hard to sit in. Isn’t it a lot easier to walk into a room where the door is being held open by a friend? It doesn’t make the conversation any easier, but at least we walked into the room. Together.
CONFIDENCE FROM CHAOS. I have gained a confidence in who I am by understanding who I am to God. I never thought this was possible. This newfound confidence catches me by surprise many times. When I feel confident in a situation I previously would have fumbled, I catch myself saying, “Whoa, WHO was THAT?!” What I’ve realized is that confidence is one of the most beautiful and inspiring gifts we can give to ourselves and to the people around us.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE, DEAR ONE. HOLD ONTO GOD. HE IS WAITING TO TAKE YOUR HAND AND WALK WITH YOU THROUGH THE STORM YOU ARE IN. HE’S GOT YOU!