A mess

I have drafted probably 5 different (long) blog posts since Memorial Day. I never posted a single one, obviously, as this is my first post in some time. I’m not sure why, either. Maybe the posts were more for me to vent and clear my head. Maybe they felt too personal to share. Maybe they were too negative for a space I’m trying to reserve for “rejoicing.” Maybe I just never went back to edit them and see what might become of them (this one, yes). Maybe…

Floods, Memorial Day, Jenner, Congress, Charleston, the Supreme Court, July 4th, mom stuff, pregnancy stuff, faith, death, fear, confusion…

I really covered a mess of topics throughout my drafts. And truly none of the above ever felt like something authentic I’d write. I felt like maybe I was trying to respond to other blogs or media stories. I felt like maybe I was trying to defend my position or admit complete and utter failure to understand some recent events. Was I trying to compete? It’s not like I share this or am trying to make a “name” for myself… And again, much of it was to verbalize my rampant thoughts raging through my brain on a minute-by-minute basis.

So allow me to take a step back.

These last few weeks (heck really since Memorial Day), I’ve been in a funky fog. A lot of the sad news stories certainly don’t help. The constant introspection makes for guilty consciences, too… but truly I don’t know what’s been plaguing me. Last week, I saw my OB for my 32-week appointment. I had been planning to pop in and out but felt compelled to tell her about my lingering sadness (irritation? fears? struggles?).

I told her something along these lines:
“Dr. C, listen, I’d like to think of myself as a pretty positive person, but lately, I’ve just been letting myself get carried away with all sorts of worries – child-bearing related and not – and look, I just want to give you the heads up… if my post-partum is any amount worse than with James… I will promise to be up front with you. I’ll seek your help. I am not someone that shies away from that… I’m just scared that I might slip away in a sense, and I want to be up front with you about that.”

Her face said it all. She seemed genuinely shocked that I would not only feel that way, but also be “prepared” enough to share it with her.

I said, “I am a Christian; you know I recently became Catholic. And I know your husband is a pastor. So I feel like we can talk about Jesus. So here’s my problem: I KNOW and I BELIEVE and I TRUST that God is in control and that I will make it through WHATEVER… but then I fail. Each day, I have a moment (or hours) where let doubt creep in, or read something stupid online that is supposed to inspire but just makes me feel inadequate, or just lose my patience with my kid and wonder ‘how in the world am I supposed to be a mother of two when I can barely “survive” with one?’ And INSTEAD of reading the Scripture (which I do a little) and praying (which I do as much as I can) and letting stuff go (which is super hard for me), I just feel GUILTY for letting all of this control my brain and my heart in the first place. How do I break this cycle?!”

Her response (was something close to):
“This all makes you very human. We’re not perfect, and he loves us anyway. You are acting and behaving in a completely normal way. The problem is that Satan wants to nestle into those nasty thoughts and stay nice and cozy inside you… and because you know that and know the answers (Scripture, prayer, talking with other Christian friends, etc), you do have to fight a little. You have to say “no more!” to the evil distractor and call on Jesus to help you. There is no shame in that. Jesus knows you’re trying, and he’ll be there to help you every step of the way. And you know that… but you have to accept it, too.

When I think of you, I think of how joyful you are. That’s the impression I’ve had since day one. So don’t let some evil force overtake you. Forgive yourself. Seek him. And thanks for the heads up – we’ll definitely keep an eye on your recovery and your post-partum concerns. That’s really awesome of you to tell me, and I’m not worried about you… but yes, that’s important to know.”

***

First of all, how many people have such an amazing OB? I feel so blessed to know her and have her help me through the remainder of this pregnancy and (hopefully!) the delivery of my second child.

Second, she is SO RIGHT. Satan (who no one wants to talk about…. like, ever.) is ALWAYS out to get us. To snare us. To entrap us. And the only way to move on or even to attempt to fight is to be aware of him and his trickery as well as using the weapons we need to defend ourselves.

Third, it was so nice to hear that in the midst of internal-soul-crisis-hormonal-rage problems someone thought I was joyful! For several weeks, I couldn’t have felt joyful if I had tried with all my strength and here was someone saying that’s just who I am (in her opinion)!

So refreshing. And much needed.

The part that has resonated with me since has been the acceptance. My “word for 2015” is SURRENDER. As a New Year’s resolution, I decided not to commit to a weight loss goal (good thing, since I found out I was pregnant a week into the new year!) or a food thing or even a church/service thing… I just wanted one word with which to focus my attention and my works.

Surrender seemed like a good fit. I fight to have control every. single. day… surrendering is hard for me. Surrendering to God’s will is even harder since that requires shutting up and listening (and oftentimes that’s when Satan sneaks around). It’s a constant battle and halfway through the year and through this month of July, I’m realizing how poorly I’ve been following my “mantra” of surrendering.

I don’t surrender. I fight. I don’t accept Jesus’ loving guidance. I know He’s there. Like I said I believe it, and I have the faith to trust in him, but when it comes down to it, I don’t really feel worthy and don’t accept it with an open embrace like so many people do. Those people – you know them – they just glow. They have the radiant love of Christ pouring out of them. I don’t feel like I do, but I want to be one of those people so badly.

I know the answer is simple (just surrender darn it!), but I guess for some reason I am more drawn to the guilt/shame/need to repent side of my faith (necessary, but step away from the negative!) rather than the glory/joy/virtue/love side (I want to be a shiny happy glowy God person!).

I’m 1200 words in and if you’re still here, gosh I appreciate it.

I’m not really sure where I’m going. Listen, the title says it all. I am and probably always will be a mess. In some ways more than others. What I need to work on is knowing that it’s ok – God created me to be that way and he loves me more than I can possibly fathom, mess and all. I KNOW this. I BELIEVE this. Why can’t I accept it?!

Friends, how do you surrender? Will you pray for me to be better at that?

Meanwhile, I do find things to be grateful for every day. I still do try to rejoice in the real regardless of my own internal war I’m waging. I love a good (hot) cup of coffee while snuggling and watching Daniel Tiger with my kiddo. I’m thankful for a husband that makes me laugh and gets me out of my head. I’m grateful to read good books, like my current selection, The Way of Serenity by Father Jonathan Morris. And I’m still surprised by the rather forceful movements in my belly – he catches me off guard during my crazy days and makes me stop and smile. It’s amazing what a little baby kick or wiggle can do.

I hope you all find something to be grateful for today. And good luck if you’re waging a battle with Satan, too. I’ll be praying for you.

***

Psalm 51: 1-4
Have mercy on me, God, in accord with your merciful love;
    in your abundant compassion blot out my transgressions.
Thoroughly wash away my guilt;
    and from my sin cleanse me.

***

Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

P.S. my 30th birthday is in 5 days… so I’m going to do my best to make these next 5-10 days really special. For myself. For my relationship with Christ. I’ll report back! Happy birthday to me!!

Update: Friday 7/17

I opened up my book this morning after a 4am wake up call from my toddler and read Chapter 18 “Some Change is Necessary.” Of course, it spoke to me in a very personal way… Check out this passage – sound familiar?!

“Because the enemy of our soul – the devil – is the father of lies, he is a master at turning a healthy feeling like guilt into a destructive force if we aren’t careful. If your guilty feelings persist long after you have asked God for forgiveness, those feelings are no longer from God. They are, rather, signs of self-pity and distrust in the Lord’s mercy. Scrupulosity – seeing sin where there is none and feeling guilty for things that are not wrong at all – is another lie that the devil loves to tell.

The devil is intent on reversing the nature of repentance because he knows that it is such a beautiful, godly act. He knows that a contrite heart is a humble heart and that the humble man or woman is close to the heart of Jesus.” 

THANK YOU FATHER JONATHAN! 

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One thought on “A mess

  1. Steph, I feel like I could write two separate blog posts about these topics myself!
    First- pregnancy: Every week that I was pregnant with Matthew, I went to church to light a candle and pray to the Virgin. Little words after my rosary would come out of my heart “Please let Matt be healthy, happy and full of adventure”. The Serenity prayer seemed to go through my mind at all times. I didn’t realize postpartum anxiety could occur during pregnancy. It was the most exciting time, but also the most fearful time. The only time I truly felt at peace was my time at church. All of that to say- I think it’s so awesome you are acknowledging that you may need help. I feel like when we humble ourselves and voice our concerns, God answers, and I feel like that’s what happened with your conversation with your doctor. Awesome doctor you have, I think I might need a referral! 🙂
    Secondly- Surrender: What a deceptively beautiful word. I wish I could surrender more. I wish I could hear something horrible happening in the world and trust that with God’s love, everything will work out. But I fail. The devil does find a way to tempt us at all times. However, I think even with our failures we find our way back. We practice kindness, we give with a loving heart, we raise Godly children. Tangent- I also wish I had that “glow”. I love seeing that on people. Maybe with age comes wisdom, and with wisdom will come surrender and I will gain that glow.
    Thirdly- You are absolutely one of the most joyful women I know. If anything, I always thought you had “the glow” so it’s so interesting to hear it from your perspective!

    Like

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