Spiritual

From Ashes to Beauty

Does anyone else feel like 2016 dragged them through the mud a time or two? It’s no secret that for many people this year 2016 was more than just “meh,” it was awful. No matter how I feel, however, I can’t ignore the positives that occurred and the behind the scenes work Jesus did for me and my family.

It’s not a secret that I have been to hell in back. I have survived one of my biggest nightmares as a mother – post partum anxiety and depression. It’s scary and fills you to the brim with so guilt that you feel like your suffocating. It feeds you the biggest lies in the world and takes work to overcome. I mean real work. Not just pop a pill and talk to a therapist. You are fighting mentally for the life you deserve and hope for – and it’s the most important battle.

I look back at where I was last year and I can honestly say, I was a wreck. I had just been told I had to let the birth control shot that caused my severity to run its course in my body and that it could take up to a year to get completely out my body and another year for my body to adjust back to “normal.” I felt uneasy about my future but another part of me, Christ in me, gently and quietly reminded me that I would more than just “okay.” I just had to buckle down and never give up … somehow.

Exactly 365 days ago, I decided to do more than just talk to a therapist and practice yoga – I wanted a forever fix. Not something temporary that would help numb the mental pain and frustrations of it all. I believed in Jesus and I spoke to him but not consistently. My faith was the equivalent of those who only go to church on Easter and Christmas. When things were great in my life, I barely said a word to him but when things got hairy, I was begging for him to intervene. Ya’ll, Jesus is a lot of things and he is always with us and for us, but he’s not a butler. I can’t ring my bell at the first sign of trouble, make my demands and then be upset when the issue is resolved but not the way I would have handled it at all. God doesn’t always move at lighting speed when it come to answering prayers and the spiritual journey I was about to embark on a year ago showed two things that were getting in the way of my faith walk – my impatience and pride. Oh how they can rob us of God’s beauty fast.

I had patience for everyone else in the world but myself. A year ago, I had no idea why I was so hard on myself and I was determined to fight my post partum naturally – with no meds. Now I know why, but that’s for another day.

2016 was the year of my spiritual awakening – and it was and then some. Like I said, even though 2016 was rough, I can’t look pass God’s works in me. To get closer to God, I decided to read one spiritual book a month, daily scripture readings and devotionals and write and memorize scripture. I had to let go of memorizing scripture as I find I only need to call on God and he will show me which scripture to focus on.

The first half of the year was hell. It was incredibly frustrating to me to have two or three good days in a row and then one thought would spiral me into a weeklong fog. And every time I was in a fog, I would push myself even harder only exacerbating the problem. I swore every day I would never give in, I would never spend a single day in bed crying as much as I wanted to. I would not give up on myself or my family because I knew God was coming. But he does help those who help themselves and I see now how my impatience was preventing myself from true progress. In July, one terrible lie plagued my mind for almost three weeks and it finally hit me that I needed professional help. I had done online therapy for three months. I could have done more but I felt like since I was seeing progress I should stop. Oh how I laugh at that now. Recovery is not only about finding the right therapy/medications/other tools that work but also implementing them for the right amount of time, maybe even doing them for the rest of your life. That was a hard pill to swallow, that I might have to be on anxiety meds for the rest of my life. I still grapple with that.

Admitting you need professional help takes a mountain of strength and when my pride had accepted the post partum and I started medication my brain continued to give me timelines on when I should be better. So and so was better in six months, another mom – a year, two years, 18 months. By April, I had learned not to read post partum blogs because they were triggers and everyone heals different. The timeline part is also something I deal with from time to time, again as long as I’m getting better I don’t care how long it takes. I should mention that when I started having symptoms of my post partum nightmare, exactly one week after I had the birth control shot, I went to the nurse practitioner. She prescribed medication and four days later I had lost four pounds from vomiting and severe sweating. I called in and was told to ride it out. That’s when I went on the “all natural kick” with therapy and herbal supplements. As painful all of this was, it’s in the first half or so of 2016 that my faith armor started to form and I developed a level of strength I never thought someone like me would ever possess. I am one strong mother trucker y’all!! Praise God!

The second time I went on medication, thankfully, I was able to see my actual doctor and  he put on something very different from the first attempt. I was sleepy the first week and by week three I could feel a difference and by eight weeks I could tell a substantial difference and so could my family. I’m about to start month six on this medication and I’m excited to see what 2017 will bring for me. The books I read this past year, all 12, are all uplifting, Christian lifestyle books. Some were repetitive in their messages but I didn’t care, I needed God’s word to smack me across the face hard. It didn’t smack me in the face but does God does like to repeat messages to us because we rarely get it the first time around and so for Him, it was like he was gently tapping me on the shoulder. He calmly reminded me to turn to him for everything and soon, with the help of medication, I felt more prepared and calm to use techniques I had learned from my therapist, the Word and the books I read to fight off my nightmare. God’s grace is enough, his mercy is enough, his love is enough.

Here’s a list of the books I read on my spiritual reading quest:

  1. One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp – a raw, heartbreaking book that reminds you to be grateful for every little thing.
  2. Fresh Start by Joel Osteen – If you have read, “The Power Of I am,”  by Osteen they are similar. It a good reminder of God’s truths for us all. If you want thick layers of positivity, either one are worth a read.
  3. “Miracles from Heaven,” by Christy Beam – You can watch the movie with Jennifer Garner and you’ll still cry from the beautiful and miraculous story of faith. Perfect for those on the fence about God’s love for them.
  4. “The Confident Mom,” By Joyce Meyer – Meyer is honest and to the point, she doesn’t sugar coat what it takes to be a confident mother in Christ. I purchased the book so I could refer to in my motherhood journey. Hard truths we all need to be reminded of every now and then.
  5. “You’re Going to be Okay,” By Holley Gerth – This woman speaks to my soul. If you ever have had a dream, large or small, crash and burn Gerth reminds women what God has in store for the queens of His Kingdom.
  6. “Audacious,” By Beth Moore – Moore shares her life story and what it means to her to  live boldly for Christ.
  7. “You’re Made for God-Sized Dream,” by Holley Gerth – This book is worth reading slowly and taking notes on if you’re wanting to pursue something that sounds crazy but in your heart you know you have to go for it.
  8. “The Fringe Hours,” by Jessica Turner – Turner shares her secrets on how she pursues her passion with a family and why we all need those moments to just be ourselves, daughters of God with dreams, desires to do something just for us.
  9. “The Life of the Body,” by Valerie Hess – This book explores the spiritual side of exercise, sleep, eat and do on Earth.
  10. “Unstuffed,” by Ruth Soukup – Soukup shares ways to use God’s word to declutter your home, mind and soul. It did put me to sleep while reading a few times; maybe listening in the car would be better.
  11. “Our Own Life,” by Sally Clarkson – A gentle reminder of our overall purpose on this Earth and as a daughter of God, and what we can do to truly trust God.
  12. “Uninvited” by Lysa TerKeurst -This was my favorite book out of all them. I’m so thankful for God’s timing that this came available from the library in December. If you ever felt second best, left out, not good enough in any situation growing up, this book is for you. TerKeurst shares her painful past and what we can do to grow closer to our Father, the one who never rejects us and will never say we are second best.

One book, a devotional, I started in the fall. It has something to read for every day of the year. Just a handful of sentences to reflect on each day, “Jesus Calling,” by Sarah Young, was mentioned to me twice in the same day, actually, in the same hour. I’m not kidding. My car was in the shop and I took the shuttle service to work. I was reading and the driver asked what I was reading. It was one of the books mentioned above and it sparked a conversation about the devotional. I took a mental note and continued reading. He dropped me off at work, I went to my office and turned on my computer. I checked my Facebook and there was a post from a younger cousin about the devotional. I took the hint and ordered the book right away. I love it so much, I purchased one for my best friend and sitter.

A year ago, I was starting my spiritual journey not sure if I was praying correctly or if I ever really had learned to pray and talk to God. Now, I wonder if he gets tired of me talking to him. Then again, he knows I can be quite chatty at times. I admit praying to God felt like a chore in the beginning and I felt like a broken record because I was praying for the same thing over and over again. He then showed me how to use my imagination to talk to him without actually saying anything. I started using my strong imagination to talk to God. I visualize that we are laying down in green pastures and he’s holding my hand. I picture child-like arms wrapping around the neck of God (as a lion) and I lean into him when I am worried or scared. What felt like a chore in the beginning and repetitive is something I need daily. And I notice a big difference in my day depending on how much time I spend with him.

Change is not easy, especially when you are already going through something you want to run away and hide from, but like I said I was and I am still determined to come out of this chapter in my life stronger and embracing the next with open arms and Christ by my side.

I plan to continue to read books to strength my faith walk. I don’t care how strong your bond is with God, it can always be stronger. And that’s a good thing, it means God isn’t finished with us. Every day we are here means he still has great things in store for us. It’s officially 2017 and I pray and look forward to this year to be strengthening my faith walk even more, and a complete restoration of my mental health (to where I no longer need meds but again, if I am meant to stay on them so be it) and my marriage. You don’t go throw the fire without some things getting burned. My husband and I both admit we have put each other on the back burner for too long and this year we hope to make more time for our marriage and our passions – my writing and his cooking.

I pray that 2017 is a blessed year for you and if you haven’t decided to take a leap a faith closer to God but you know in your heart you want to – there is no better time than now. And he’s ready for you to lean in closer. It’ll be worth it, promise.

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