I predict this will be a very long blog.
No apologies though, because I'm really excited to write it.
The past twenty or so months have been the hardest months of my life.
I don't know why or how it started and I can't mark it with a ton of stuff, but it's been very definitely really hard and really um, hard. That's the only word I have.
At first I thought I had postpartum depression then I got pregnant again and told Nick I thought I had prepartum depression, then I thought New Beginnings was just too hard, then I blamed it on a million other things. I still don't have anything to call it other than a yucky season.
It felt like looking in a mirror too long, taking long miserable walks with purpose, being an old dusty hammock that is overlooked, and anything other metaphor I've used to describe it when trying to write about my heart.
I rarely doubted in all of it, if there was growth because I could feel the growing pains just stretching me day after day - but it still didn't seem purposeful. It wasn't a 1+1=2 equation of "I'm going through this hard time to learn this". Instead my heart felt unfettered and wild and at the end of the night, I would just lay in bed and ask myself what was wrong with me. Why didn't I have joy? Why couldn't I pull my act together? Why wasn't I excited to live? My head knew all the knowledge of these answers and my heart refused to connect.
A month or so ago, I began to get even more worried. As I talked with friends, I realized that in my life, I'd measured happiness by happy events and having things to look forward to that pleased me. This concerned me for two reasons - #1)Being a stay-at-home-mother of three children under three in a tough economy will kind of slap you around in the way of pleasure. There are very few parts of my week, or month, that are dedicated to my enjoyment. and #2) I was just frustrated that I had operated in this way before and scared to walk in truth in the future.
Because, at some point, to "take up your cross" means being willing to commit to never looking for your own pleasure again. Ever again. It doesn't mean that Jesus doesn't want happiness for us, but that we should probably be willing to sacrifice it, right?
So I got worried and burdened.
Would I ever know happiness again?
But moreover, Did it matter if I did?
Wasn't Christ enough for me?
All of a sudden, last Thursday - there a weirdo little switch in me.
I ate two cookies for breakfast (which never happens) and I expected to wallow in shame and feel horrible and instead, I felt light. All day.
It wasn't a perfect day, but it wasn't hard and heavy and filled with despair or worry.
Then, all weekend - it felt like that.
I suspected the Lord was healing me through the prayers of people who love me. Last week felt like rock bottom in a lot of ways and maybe the Lord used that desperation in me to cause other to pray for me. Whatever it was, my circumstances weren't changing so much but my heart was. Despair felt a million miles away, but I was still a little wary to rejoice.
On Sunday night, I talked to Nick about this - which is always helpful.
I told him this run-on sentence, "I'm just so excited about life - which hasn't happened for so long? You know? Tonight will be fun, and tomorrow and the next day. And I used to look at the fridge and think, 'THAT FRIDGE IS DISGUSTING and I'll never have time to clean it because I don't even have time to shower!' and now I look at the fridge and think 'ooooh, maybe I'll have time to clean it this week and if not, maybe next week!'. But I'm scared, Nick, because maybe I'm just happy about circumstances because we have so much fun coming up. But I hope that's not it - I hope that these are evidences of grace in my life.... little gifts the Lord is giving me to say this season is coming to end." (and of course he gave me so much wisdom)
He said that it was ok to look forward.
He reminded me that loving Christ is all about looking back and looking forward.
Looking back to the cross and being reminded of sin and looking forward to His return for our joy. And as I told him about all the things that I was excited about, he confirmed - it wasn't my pleasure that I was looking forward to, but Christ being glorified in our lives. Seeing the joy on my kids faces as we talk about Christmas, seeing family and growing with them, starting a new bible study, and things of the sort.
And I felt so much hope. So much confidence in Christ causing me to look forward.
So I sat on that for a day. Feeling quietly hopeful in my heart and still a bit unsure of where to take it. Then today, I was looking at this picture on our mantle of Nick and I dancing at our wedding. It's one of those pictures that makes me really uncomfortable when people mention it because I feel so separate from the girl in it. She looks actually giddy with happiness and like someone I want to be. But TODAY, I was looking at it and I didn't feel jealous of old-me. I just recognized a younger version of myself.
But when I turned around to go grab a crying baby, I looked down at myself and audibly said, "Oh! There she is!". I think Glory wanted to have me committed, talking to myself and all.
But I just saw myself (present day) as hopeful and joyful for the first time in so long.
Now, that is a long and very personal story.
But if you feel a little hopeless, even while desperately trying to have hope in Christ -
hold fast. It might take 2 days or 20 months or 20 years, but growth will happen and joy will come in the morning. Because it's a fruit of the spirit, you know? Keep planting and watering and sitting in the sun and even if your circumstances don't change, He will grow some fruit.
Isn't He so good?