I write this from the messy middle. Not looking back with the ‘hindsight that is 20/20’ people talk about. Not speaking optimistically with fluffy statements.
A dear of friend of mine recently said, “Postpartum is weird.” And I can’t disagree. What is even weirder is how I feel it kicked into a new gear at almost 4 months, different than it was at 4 weeks. I wasn’t expecting that.
I wasn’t expecting a lot of things with motherhood.
I wasn’t expecting to enjoy it as much as I do. I wasn’t expecting the tsunamis of love multiple times a day. I wasn’t expecting to sing majority of what I say. I wasn’t expecting that fierce shielding I want to do 98% of the time. I wasn’t expecting the depths of joy in the fun of parenting with my husband.
I am both emotional and relational.
I leave a social gathering thinking it was enjoyable or a success only if I had good conversations, if people were okay or if they felt loved by me. I feel things deeply, which helps me empathize authentically, discern where people are and care with intention. This is my wiring, crafted uniquely by the Lord.
It makes sense, then, that extra hormones coupled with the many changes a baby brings plus the steep learning curve of parenthood might create a little chaos in me.
I confess some days I don’t feel like myself. Other days my heart and mind feel like they are under water. Sometimes I talk to God all day and other times I can barely gather two coherent sentences together. Some days I feel steady while others I feel like at any moment I could break down. Some days I sense the nearness of God in a way that is real and tangible, while other days I feel a little alone. Sometimes saying Yes to people or events takes marathon-like inner preparation, and then there are times I say No because it’s too much. There are things that were once simple that I now ask God to help me get through.
It’s truly unfamiliar territory and I realize I don’t like foreign soil. Who does? We don’t like to not know why things are happening or what is going on or how to do something well. We like to feel competent, or at least knowledgeable, with what is going on inside us. At least I do. And the fact that it’s different for every woman makes it even more challenging! I am almost constantly, with the help of my husband and friends, dragging lies into the Light and wrestling down ‘shoulds.’ The enemy is all too happy to heap expectations and pressure onto our backs as we wade through these new waters. He’s all about making us feel wrong, broken or hopeless if he can get us to believe what is false. And this is the lie: God’s opinion of you has changed since you’re changing.
I have felt so much shame because of the things I’m struggling with. I have felt so much confusion over why certain things feel so challenging to me right now. And I have been exhausting myself trying to make myself ‘better.’
To which God says: Stop thinking you’re out because of how you are right now. Keep coming. You’re in. You’ll always be in. You’ll always be loved. You’ll always be Mine. I won’t give up on you. So you don’t give up on Me.
“When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord; he brought me into a spacious place. The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” Psalm 118:5-6
As I thought about sharing this, I asked the Lord what I should be sure to say, and I sensed this: Tell them that including Me in everything makes a difference.
And it’s true. Truthfully, my words for my insides today are chaotic, messy, anxious and tired. And I don’t know how long these funky hormones will be present, but this is how I fight: with God.
Include Him as my foremost guide and voice on all things (including my feelings).
Include Him as my best friend and favorite companion.
Include Him as my first line of defense and protection.
Include Him as my first choice for supplies.
Include Him as the perfect physician for healing and surgeries on my heart.
Include Him as the one in charge of joy and courage.
Include Him as my most important conversation (aka my Counselor).
We tend to judge God’s words by our own feelings and sensory observations. If we feel orphaned, we believe we are orphaned. If we feel a sense of impending doom, the worst will in fact happen. If we are told that God reigns, but everything seems to be in chaos, we twist God’s revelation about himself to fit our understanding of the data. Scripture, however, reveals the things we can’t see with the naked eye, and God’s self-revelation is a higher authority than our feelings. When our feelings conflict with God’s communication, we must side with God’s interpretation. Any other decision puts us above God, which we already know isn’t true because fear reminds us of our own puniness. We certainly are not gods!Edward welch, running scared, PP. 68-69
Gloriously, God never changes, no matter what happens in me or to me. And what is true of Christ (which is true of me because I’m in Christ) is unshakeable. So today, the good fight of faith for me is a fight to abide, and let Him do the work in me in His time.
Anything complicated feels too heavy, so He graciously asks me to do one thing: include Him.
“May grace and perfect peace cascade over you as you live in the rich knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.” 2 Peter 1:2 The Passion Translation