In continuing the journey through A December to Remember, this is the perfect time of year for reflection and evaluation. Another year has gone by, so Liz challenged us to explore our Life Lessons from 2016:
In January and February, I was nearing the end of my pregnancy with my son. I busied myself with worry and anxiousness. I worried about the health of the baby, I worried about adjusting to a family of four, and I worried about the birth itself. Although our son gave us quite a scare, everything turned out fine. Now he is a busy 9 month-old boy and the last baby we will have. His first year is already passing us by! I find myself missing the sensation of feeling him move around in my belly and missing those moments of anticipation when I was waiting to meet him. Lesson: worry less and enjoy the moments more!
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
In March, I gave birth to my beautiful son and was soon caught up in the whirlwind of sleepless nights, postpartum depression, and balancing a newborn between the needs of toddler. I had diapers for two, I was covered in spit-up, my eyes were droopy, and my feet felt like cement blocks. It took a toll on my husband and I both and we found ourselves wishing for that part of the storm to be over. We were wishing for sleep and found ourselves talking about the day both children could dress themselves, buckle themselves in the car, and brush their own teeth without a war going on in the bathroom. April and May actually did disappear quite rapidly into a blurry cloud and sometimes I just want to hold that newborn again. This time will pass quickly enough on its own and we are actually going to miss some of this. Lesson: do not wish your time away, because it will disappear and you may find yourself wishing for it back.
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.
In June, I decided to fight back against postpartum depression, anxiety, and the symptoms of post-traumatic stress. I turned my garage into a war room, laid out some spiral notebooks and a package of pens, kept scripture within reach, and used my workouts to meditate in prayer. The results of that eventually led me here, pouring it all out in a blog. Lesson: even though we may want to give up and give in, we must hold on! God sent us victory through Jesus Christ!
For you equipped me with strength for the battle; you made those who rise against me sink under me.
In July, our daughter turned three and we entered into a new phase with her that has proved challenging. Three is fun, but we are also dealing with a teenager in a preschooler’s body. Between a baby and a tiny teenager, August and September slipped right on by. I kept at it in my ‘war room’, my husband joined a men’s group, and playgroup got started again. The atmosphere in this house began to change mightily. We were finally getting sleep at night, we were laughing again, and it felt as if we had settled into our family of four quite nicely. We found ourselves becoming so grateful and thankful for all of the little things. Yes, there have been hurdles and trials of circumstance, but our attitudes and mindsets had changed shaped drastically. Lesson: prayer changes things. We need to pray first, pray second, pray again, and pray hard.
In October, an opportunity opened itself up and I contributed material to a children’s magazine. It was a scary step to ‘put myself out there’ with my outlines and ideas, but I am so glad I took that step. It was an opportunity to offer what I had as an offering to a great cause. I also took another giant step in vulnerability and ended up here. Hi, friends!! Lesson: take the risks. If you feel God nudging you toward something and you have prayed about it, measured it with scripture, and prayed some more…take a risk. Be vulnerable. Be open. You will never know what could unfold until you do.
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
November and December found me beginning the process of compiling a big chunk of what I have been pouring out in notebooks and on here into format for print. Not all of it, but the simpler, gentler steps of the journey are on this blog and now bound up for print. The Reverend planted a seed next to a lot of other similar seeds that others have been trying to plant and it began to disturb me until I started to do something about it. I still do not know why I put it out there like that and I am still a little nervous (okay, a lot nervous) about the whole thing. But, there was this pressure and urgency to do so. And, I obeyed it even as I resisted (okay, still resisting in the mental and emotional department). I learned that editing, proofreading, formatting, and editing again is hard. It is so very hard and it is a job. No wonder people get paid a lot of money to do it! I also learned that our doubts about ourselves can be one of the biggest, most difficult mental battles we have to face. Lesson: even when doubting ourselves, we have to learn to trust God anyway. Giving up the doubts about ourselves is probably more difficult than giving up our doubts about God.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
I am teaming up with someone who has become very dear to me so we can lay out the foundation of getting deeper into the heart of our stories and Who God is in those stories. After emails and hours of conversation (with a few tears or more), we came to a conclusion: the battle of dissociation, post-traumatic stress, emotional wounds, spiritual wounds, and the past can run so deep that even believers find themselves in a battle that is nearly impossible to withstand on their own. Something is unfolding and, while we do not yet have a clear picture, we are going to roll with it. Lesson: we know Who wins!
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
One final lesson: character and integrity are far more impressive and powerful than status, title, and material gains.