ARTICLE FOUR: It got worse before it got better... Let’s go back to Sam being born...
So he arrived, and he was a baby just like the rest of them were. He needed me, I was his food source, and he cried just like the rest of them did. I seem to forget that this is the case while in the “la la-land” stage of pregnancy.
“Technically”, I was on maternity leave from co-leading our church with my husband for four months after Sam’s birth. But when you’re pastoring a church, there really is no time off. People don’t stop having needs or going through things. (And that’s not a whinge. I LOVE my job...)
Just a week and a half after Sam was born, Paul was traveling on and off for 6 weeks with a few days home in between each trip. Thank goodness that my mother and father live in our neighborhood, and my mom is a birth and postpartum doula. So I hired her for a month after Sam’s birth while Paul traveled.(here is her website - she is the best in the business!!!)
Anyway... Paul and I lead the church together, both with different strengths and focuses. So knowingly or unknowingly I carried the load while he was traveling in an unhealthy way and stressed myself out. No one asked me to do this; it’s the ‘mom martyr mentality’ that rose up in me, and it needed to be silenced. It didn’t help that at the same time I was trying to figure out how to juggle having four kids who all had very diverse needs. My stress then turned into shingles, which meant I needed medication for the excruciating pain I was in. It was so bad that it made it nearly impossible to even hold my newborn. The medication then made my milk dry up, which meant I had to make the extremely emotional decision to wean Sam at three months old. I remember bawling on the side of the road pushing Sammy in his stroller to his three month check-up with my mom, who just held me and told me that I wasn’t a bad mother for having to wean him. That he would thrive on formula and be in good health.
This whole season was the breaking point for me. I felt like I was coming up short in every sphere of my life. Don't get me wrong, this season wasn't all bad; there were amazing moments and memories... it was just a poignant turning point in my life.
Right around Christmastime, I was put on bed rest so that I could recover and come back strong. Now, I don’t know if you’re like me, but one of the worst things about resting is the list of things that you make in your head of everything that’s not getting done to your standard of perfection. Yes, I had an army of people that graciously reached out to help me, but they couldn’t do things to my anal standard. Yes, I said it. Apparently I needed to learn gratitude in this season too. It's humbling to get help when you're used to controlling everything...
I remember one of the most emotional days within that season. I was on the road to recovery and had finally had a ‘day off’ where I had gotten some help with Sam. As I sat down to relax after getting the kids off to school, I opened my calendar to look at my week. To my horror, I saw that I had signed up to be a chaperone for Zeke’s class field trip way up in Harlem, extremely far from my home in Brooklyn (about a 40-60 minute subway ride). I had missed chaperoning the subway ride by 2 HOURS!!! I broke down. My mom and Vanessa (who is now our life assistant extraordinaire) were at the house and I had the equivalent of a total panic attack. I was crying, not breathing properly, and wringing my hands, wondering what my son thought of his ‘idiot’ mother (I highly recommend you don’t talk about yourself like this; I don’t even talk about myself like this anymore. Just shows how far I’ve come!). I for sure thought I embarrassed him, and I just knew I was “that mom” who didn’t show up, and wasn’t there for her kid. Extreme, extreme, extreme to the max!!! Such unhealthy thinking... I needed to be transformed by the renewing of my mind!
It seemed like every situation I was faced with in this season was pushing my buttons, and I was turning up short.
I couldn’t feed my own child because I got sick and couldn’t control my body's reaction to the stress I put myself under. I couldn’t even control my own calendar and remember important dates. I couldn’t cook or clean for a season because I was in bed. I couldn’t give enough time and attention to each of my children individually (four was truly a huge stretch, yet one that I would do all over again). I couldn’t invest enough time into my husband, or to the spiritual leadership of the church... to anything I thought I was supposed to. WAHH WAHH WAHHH!!!!!
In my mind, what was I good for??? I needed God to pull me out of this black hole.
One thing I know is that I never want to survive through life. I want to thrive and LIVE in every moment. I want to see beauty come out of the ashes of the hard seasons.
It was time to tell my soul what to do. And my soul needed to rejoice!
"4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
I was up late in the middle of the night with Sam while Paul was away in India, and I started to feel sorry for myself and cry (I bet you’re getting sick of this- I know I am, just writing it). Then my tears turned to desperation, and I finally cried out to God and meant it. With prayer and thanksgiving, I decided to present my requests to God. I was done being the victim of my circumstance.
“God, whatever you need to do in me, do it. I’m ready. I want my children's memory of their mother to be one of a woman that could laugh at the days to come. I want my husband to not be worried about me, but trust in me fully.”
It was time to leave the prison of my control. Time to stop being the victim. Time to get free.
*** NEXT WEEK: I will focus on the root of where the control issue actually came into my life, and the steps I began to take to get free.
Crying out, and truly meaning it from the depths of your heart is actually the first step to freedom. God can always work with a pliable heart.