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Perfectly imperfect…

Last night we took down the Christmas tree and packed it all away. It seems impossible to think that another year could pass so quickly. This time last year, I was beginning to anticipate the last part of pregnancy with my son. I daydreamed a lot about what two children would be like and whether or not my heart had the capacity to love another child as much as I love my daughter. Could a human heart stretch that far and wide without snapping?

When I started my weekly exams at the doctor’s last winter, my obstetrician let me know I was over 80% effaced and around 4cm dilated. We were so certain I would be giving birth within 24 hours, because my daughter came quickly just 2 and a half years previously.

Well, my son took his time. I walked around between 80-90% effaced and somewhere between 4-5cm dilated for a couple of weeks. We had been so sure our baby would arrive before February turned into March that, when March 1 appeared, I moped around the house for hours on end.

I must have looked insane at over 9 months pregnant with puffy eyes, wild hair, and gasps of air replacing a normal breathing pattern while I pumped my legs and arms wildly on that elliptical hoping that it would send me into labor. After I had worked for more than an hour at a time on the elliptical and still had no signs of labor, I would burst into tears and lament to my husband, “I bet I am going to be the first woman to stay pregnant forever!”

Although it felt like forever at the time, the last part of my pregnancy slipped right on by. Before I could even catch my breath, I was shutting the door to our van with the two tiny faces visible through the window. I turned around to hug the nurse who had been taking care of me and my infant son and found I couldn’t let go of her. Uncontrollably, I was hanging onto her neck for dear life as I started to sob, “Am I going to be good enough for two of them? Are you really letting me go home with two children?”

The nurse was kind to me in the middle of my neurosis and she reassured me that I could do it, that I would be okay.

Almost ten months ago, my husband was pulling the van into the driveway while I was practicing my breathing and trying to gather myself for life at home, without the call button to summon a nurse for assistance with the baby.

I moped around for days on end, my hormones a tornado of turmoil that would send me into tears for no reason at all. By the time the baby was a month old, we knew something was wrong when the tears and the moping did not stop.

I fed, diapered, bathed, entertained, hugged, diapered, and fed some more, not one, but two small human beings in addition to trying to balance out my own needs. I was left feeling guilty more often than not. I felt guilty that my daughter had to wait while I tended to the more urgent needs of her newborn brother. I felt guilty when I couldn’t snuggle her and tuck her into bed, as was our routine before the baby arrived. I felt like I had betrayed my own children by having to choose between their needs, no matter how irrational I tried to tell myself those feelings were. Those feelings led to other feelings, led to other feelings, and so on until I found myself sitting on the bathroom floor staring blankly at the wall. My whole life was beginning to parade around with the most traumatic pieces booming and blaring loudly. I looked at my husband and said, “I might need a little help.”

He let me know he had already spoken to the doctor and he made me an appointment to see her after reading about how postpartum depression can complicate post-traumatic stress. I saw my obstetrician and our family doctor’s nurse practitioner within days of each other that very week. A medication regime was organized between them. I had follow-up appointments, started going to a support group, and began seeing a new therapist.

I also started writing all of the time and had three spiral notebooks going at the same time. I spent as much time as I could sweating everything out on the elliptical and scribbling in my notebooks like a madwoman.

And, I discovered the power of Psalm 34:18

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those crushed in spirit.

What some may call ‘melodramatic’ I would call ‘passion’ and life experience. One must truly see the depths in order to experience a passion for life that translates into a richer passion for God. I am more inclined to feel sorry for those who don’t have a flair for melodramatics, while those of us who do are actually the lucky ones. I think it takes a lot of guts and courage to break. There is great strength in reaching a place of weakness and being able to say, “I don’t have the answers. I don’t have it figured out. I need a little help. I am a bit broken.”

The truth is, though we may try to hide it behind pride, bitterness, money, looks, or talent, we are all a bit broken.

My mindset began to take a different turn this holiday season, as the bitter-sweetness of life’s circumstances brought so many things around in a complete circle. My husband and I were joking about how, years ago when we were kids, we made a pact that if we were 40 and single we would pool our resources and have a family together. We aren’t kids anymore, but we got married and eventually had our daughter when he was 40 before our son showed up just as I was turning 40. I am not sure you could weave a more beautiful quilt than the one formed out of the tattered pieces my husband and I managed to stitch together.

I had no idea this time last year, when I spent that time daydreaming about what life as a family of four would be like, that 2016 would actually turn into the most beautiful and rewarding ride of my life. I had no idea the lows could hurt so deeply or that, in the middle of that turmoil, I could experience something new: joy. I have been experiencing an unspeakable amount of joy and I can only conclude that, surely, I must be one of the lucky ones to feel this way.

I have mentioned this before, but I need to mention it again; I have heard it said you can only praise God to the degree of which you have lamented.

I think the same could be said about joy; you can only experience joy to the degree of which you have mourned.

It is easier to hide it all behind a mask or a costume than it is to lay those things down and reveal yourself, just as you are. It takes guts to get this vulnerable and open yourself up to judgment, criticism, scrutiny, and rejection. It takes moxie to stand firm in your faith and say, “I don’t have it figured out, but I know Who does. Me? I am pretty broken, but I know Who I am broken in.”

Melodramatic? Absolutely!

And, I am a very, very rich woman because of it.

2016 was a delicious year, rich in emotion and human experience. For better and for worse, this year brought with it some of the most precious gifts I could have ever hoped for.

81 thoughts on “Perfectly imperfect…”

  1. Thanks for the truthful telling about the season after the birth of your son. Our culture substitutes “happy” for joy and misses out on the true joy that can come after deep pain. Would that all Christians could be free to speak the truth as plainly as the Psalms. There joy, anger and pain takes turns, all part of a life in God.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Congratulations on your family and what you have shared., What I relate to, is ” we are all a bit broken”. I am diiagnosed with severe recurring depression which I sometimes write about on my blog as I share my walk of faith…..I am definitely more than a bit broken but trust God with all my heart, knowing His Holy Spirit is with you and me. I struggle with being quiet in prayer in order to listen to God’s whisper. Sounds like you have a wonderful family. Prayers for health and happiness in the new year for each of you. And, keep writing!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. You have been chosen to share in this way….I know you know that….but, perhaps what you can’t comprehend is how much your generosity of spirit resonates and soothes and validates and comforts and ignites such gratitude and joy…and a sense that God loves us and sent you as proof…thank you for sharing 🙂

    Liked by 5 people

  4. OH I LOVE THIS! Thanks for being so vulnerable, so raw and real! Thanks for reaching out to get help (I’ve had to do the same realizing it’s not just about me, but about those around me!) A quickie: in your Bible verse quote, did you mean to type “close” instead of “closed” as it causes a difference in meaning?

    Liked by 3 people

  5. JD, I praise the Lord for what He has been doing in your life, that He guides you in your vulnerability and brokenness to Him, that you may share what He is doing. Like you, I know the years of need for Him, and how He meets us in every need, and without this we would have nothing to write about. The God of all comfort is the one who witnesses through us for His glory and our joy. Our heavenly Father still has much in store for us all as we live in a torn and chaotic world. Thank you for sharing your pictures. Your family is beautiful. I pray a blessed new year for you and them. ~ Fran

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  6. What a beautiful testimony. I love the praise/lament and joy/mourning paragraphs. Actually I love it all! Our pastor has had sermons on the very topic of brokenness and how God can use us in our brokenness. He has also reminded us that to truly know God’s grace we need to realize how great our sin and misery is. Your post mirrors the grace of God. Thank you!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. My daughter experienced the same thing. You are blessed to have the support system you do as did my daughter. She had not experienced the PP blues when she had her boys, but it was her daughter that sent her over. Until you’ve gone through it, no one really understands.
    Blessings abound for you!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, that postpartum stuff is a beast of its own and you can’t truly get it until you’ve walked with that beast. I had it with my daughter, but it was having my son that sent it all to a whole different level. Thankfully, doctors today are more aware and paying attention!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Perfectly imperfect, indeed! “2016 was a delicious year, rich in emotion and human experience. For better and for worse, this year brought with it some of the most precious gifts I could have ever hoped for.”
    Prayers and wishes that 2017 is a more full-filled and fulfilling year with your lovely family!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Oh, my gosh!!! Thanks for your elucidation on Psalm 34:18 through further meaning, both in your life and in others’. It’s a great breakthrough for all of us. Your featuring of it in your header is a strong, kind statement. And, yes; thank G-d we can feel, even when we think we might not.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Wow reading this made me thought about having our second and third child, how hard it was to try to balance everything. It was harder for my wife than for myself obviously and this was a window in what some of the things my wife was going through. Sorry for making this so much about us, but praise the Lord for His grace in sustaining you and your family in 2016.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I’m not sure how postpartum depression could ever be labeled as melodramatic! That is some serious stuff. I had it undiagnosed for nine months and it was SO hard! You are indeed one of the lucky ones. Great post! Happy new year!

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Such an inspiring post for many people. I really enjoyed the line about the quilt – beautiful. Isn’t it amazing how we can have so much fear and worry…and then God works it all out for His glory. It turns out way better than we could’ve ever done on our own. 🙂 Happy new Year! (We just took down our tree too and I’m thinking more and more about how Baby #2 will be changing things this spring.)

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Wow- such a beautiful and honest post. I love the scripture you used, thank you for sharing with us. I always am intrigued about these experiences of motherhood, and am excited to one day experience what having a mother’s love is like. I hope this next year brings nothing but blessings for you and your lovely family ❤ But even in the hard times, I know your faith is so strong and God's got you through it all ❤

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I know it’s more of a song about marriage, but it was powerful for me in our adoption process. Upon hearing it the first time, I felt convicted in our adoption decision– we are all broken, and we could all survive broken together!!! 😍

        Liked by 1 person

  14. (Formally, “As We Walk Together”, in case you missed the change)
    God did not make us to be emotional robots, programmed to have the exact right emotion for a prescribed period of time. He made us human.

    It’s great that you shared your humanness, thereby encourage others who may feel they have to live up to some standard set by some random Pharisee.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. All mainstream forms of Judaism today consider themselves heirs of Rabbinic Judaism and, ultimately, the Pharisees. This line was written by the editor at the Wiki for “Pharisees”, which can be found at wikipedia.org. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pharisees

      They were never “random”, but came to their positions through their thorough knowledge and familiarity with the laws found in the Torah, which came to the Jews through the L-rd. The same types of laws are what keep society civil, with dispensation and adherence debated, administered and enforced by similar bodies, such as juridical courts, law enforcement, Congress, religious priestly bodies, and the like. Your statement seems antithetical to the same. Should I presume you a law-breaking anarchist, then, or just one who enjoys the perpetration of those old Christian slurs against the Jews?

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      1. You missed the point.
        The Pharisees Jesus dealt with were legalistic. They held the Law as salvation. They had over 2000 “explanations” for the Law. They held their sense of Law over peoples heads.
        Much of the Church is in the same vein of thought. They pick out a few top sins to bash and also expect certain behavior modifications. Those who do not comply are considered as less than, if not simply cast aside.
        As someone who has some Jewish family, I would never make slurs against Judaism or Jewish people, beliefs or traditions.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. You miss my point. Your point would have been made had you ended your sentence at the word “standard”. Where I feel it breaches into age-old Christian slurs against the Jews is when you added the continuing remainder of your sentence about “random Pharisee”. Judaism is based on G-d’s Laws. Christianity supposedly sees itself as an outgrowth of Judaism. Christianity was supposed to have buried the hatchet on accusations against Jews. My point stands. Do you rail against laws in society, I ask you? Are you a law-breaking anarchist, or do you render unto Caesar his due? Then, go look in the mirror.

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      3. My last reply.

        Your point is clear. However, I was using the example of the judgmental attitude of many of the Pharisees with whom Jesus dealt. People who know of the accounts of Jesus know of the Pharisees I mentioned. It is obvious that not all readers got this and for that, I apologize.

        It is not my intention to offend and I am sorry that I made my statement so general. Had you asked simply if I meant specific leaders or the order as a whole, rather than looking for an argument and including inferences in the rhetorical questions, this could have been cut and dry. A simple question or two may have gotten a simpler answer. Nonetheless, I will be more careful with specificity. Thank you for pointing that out.

        Liked by 2 people

      4. I am not ignoring this. I am still reading all of this and trying to figure out where something may have gone amiss. I, personally, make the distinction between Christianity as a religion and being just a plain old believer in Christ (yes, there is actually a distinction). In one arena, you have rules and regiment, doctrine and dogma, theology and structure. None of which lead to salvation in Jesus Christ. In the other arena, you have pure faith in the knowledge of God, leading to an experience of Him that includes understanding and discernment about the truth of our redemption on the cross through Christ.

        Believers, true believers who extend beyond a church pew, generally have a reverence for and a desire to understand Jewish culture through the ages. Many of us try to learn more about Hebrew as a language, Jewish social customs, and cultural practices in order to broaden our understanding of a bigger picture.

        My passion for the Lord translates into an honest desire to learn more about Him and walk in obedience. Just as there is cause and effect, the laws of physics, the laws of science, the laws of the human heart…there ARE laws both societal and spiritual that have been put in place with the belief of protecting society and culture as a whole (whether we agree with some of those laws or not).

        If my heart’s desire is truly to draw closer to God and follow the example of Christ, I am going to walk in love, honor, respect, and obedience. I will not need to be told to do so; it happens out of an honest reverence for the Lord. This means embracing and accepting people where they are at, regardless of their standing with the “law” (which is what Jesus was trying to get across to all of us with His ministry).

        I am a law-breaker on many levels, if you really want to dice this down. My walk in the faith is not going to be done perfectly. I actually manage to get it all wrong most times.

        In fact, we are all law-breakers on some level or another. If we were not all law-breakers, then Jesus Christ died in vain and His birth was for nothing.

        And, I do not know a single person who is passionately full of love for the Lord who would ever be okay with any type of prejudice against any group of people, especially a group that many of us revere as “God’s chosen”. If we break the Hebrew word ‘bachar’ down in context, we can conclude that God’s chosen are His heart’s desire and it was for a purpose that the human mind is not likely to fully fathom in this lifetime.

        That said, I am actually gaining some insight into things by reading this exchange and, perhaps, it would do well for all of us to consider the context we are placing on certain topics when speaking or writing about them (so as not to cause confusion).

        May God bless you both today and may we all entire into a broader understanding of the “bigger picture” together.

        Liked by 3 people

      5. There’s no misunderstanding on my end. You’re free to believe and practice how you choose. However, I would appreciate seeing this actual “respect” forthcoming from “Nechemiah Project” (of all names!) in not perpetrating this clearly derogatory reference which he/she affixes to Jewish practices of faith; especially where I’ve just proven that EVERYONE lives under “legalistic” jurisdiction and that any double-standard applied to Israel is an anti-Semitic canard. Read up on the definitions.

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  15. You replied, though never answered. Had you done so, the hypocrisy would be evident regarding the double-standards to which you hold the Jews (i.e., “Pharisees”, for purposes here). Why so, you? Today’s societies have decidedly way more than just 2,000 laws on the books. Each society creates laws reflecting their own values (in essence, “in their own image”) and they pass judgment everyday on those who break those laws. As far as hierarchical structures, they exist in families, neighborhoods, school, employment, government. Christianity is engulfed in structural hierarchy, as well; you cannot enter an edifice of the faith without there being some hierarchical association; otherwise, it would just be a book on offer somewhere, and there would be absolutely no NEED for denominations, their rulings and buildings. So, if the continued stress is being made that it is solely a church of the heart, than why the continuance of the buildings and hierarchy? Whether you personally attend or not, religion seems to require structure, hierarchy and laws (rules) — as do civil societies! You’re welcome to disagree with laws.. I often do. But, I guess you’re unaware that one of the greatest tenets propounded by Judaism is that man has FREE WILL to decide for himself whether to abide by rules, or not. A society is known by its laws. Israel ruled with Law for more than 1,000 years before Rome came calling. Israel’s ancient laws became the blueprint for societies’ laws. The word, “Judicial”, is based on “Judah”. So, Israel was advanced. And, what of it? Are you a law-breaking anarchist? If you’re following laws, then you’re being judged daily, whether you specifically feel the effects, restrictions, or permissions that laws make up in your life. Enjoy them!

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  16. I’m a subscriber to this site. I was not looking for an argument when I wrote to advise you of your specious application of the phrase “random Pharisee” used in conjunction to an associated connection with modern times. As you must be aware, the Pharisees have not existed as such for more than 1,000+ years. I am well aware of the derogatory affixation which Christian preaching has assigned this meaning. I am only pointing out the perceptible bias attached to your statement, its flawed logic (you live by more rules today, and Christianity is way more structured, and vast, than Judaism ever was!!!), and that many of these self-same accusations have either been debunked, or cast aside, from the dogma of Christianity, itself. I suppose you haven’t heard!

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  17. There is great strength in reaching a place of weakness and being able to say, “I don’t have the answers. I don’t have it figured out. I need a little help. I am a bit broken.”

    ❤ ❤ ❤

    We are so closely related by heart! ❤ As I was reading this, I remember I just posted On Joy and Sorrow.. and everything you put into words here reflects my own emotions but in a deeper level. It's always so encouraging to know more about you and life's challenges.. and how you have overcome.. through Christ Jesus.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Reblogged this on andnowmiguel and commented:
    This family I have gotten to know through my blog, and there is no finer place to go to in the blogging world to find the place of warmth in the heart of God, to which we are led in following the steps of our Saviour. Take time to read this and you will agree that these two and their two children are a wonderful outlet for the experience we all want with God and His Loving Son.

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  19. I love this! We are more alike than I thought. I had Severe Postpartum and PMS. I found help through the Mayo Clinic. Because of that raw, crazy time, God has allowed me to help many women with raging hormones too. Thanks for always being real and bringing life’s hurts out into the light. You are a blessing!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. In the meantime, check out Women’s International Pharmacy in Madison, Wisconsin. Throw any and ALL questions at their Pharmacist. My hormones leveled out completely with their patented natural progesterone .. made with yams and soybeans .. NO chemicals at all. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Sometimes it really helps us to feel less alone when we share the brokenness and see our own struggle in someone else’s. It makes me think of 2 Corinthians 1:4 : (God of all Comfort) who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

      Thank you for taking the time read and share! God bless you.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Isn’t ‘Life’ one big melodrama, JD? To me, you are not being melodramatic at all. You are just talking about all the ‘simple’ (not simple at all really, but you know what I mean? :)) things that are all part of our existence here. There is t his tendency that we should all take everything on board and handle it all like a professional. Where on earth did this view come from?? We are as you say ‘perfectly imperfect’. We are all muddling through: we don’t have all the answers and neither should we pressure ourselves to be successful in EVERYTHING all of the time. God tells us that it’s not going to be a ‘bowl of cherries’ here on earth. Why then do we ignore that and expect everything to be fine all the time and if it is not, there is something wrong? When we should be worried is when everything seems to be just perfect: that is the time to worry! (Please don’t take that literally. I’m just trying to make a point!) 🙂

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  21. What a Blessing you are to all readers of your blog, reminding us of the Blessing The Lord gives so freely when we need them the most
    Without that point of disrepair true we could never experience real joy of the passion of Christ

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  22. What a story! What a tough time for you and your husband…and the kids, although I’m sure you meet their needs no matter how bad you felt. I’m sorry you had this trial, but it sounds like you came out “all the better” for it on the God-end! All of those feelings pumping through you at once must have been exhausting! A good share…

    Steve

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very exhausting! Especially the part where I was trying to ‘grin and bear it’ for my children. My husband and I have both learned a lot through it all. It easier to understand the “count it all joy” when you face trials after you’ve come around the bend a bit! 😀

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