As a family we typically share something related to what we are thankful for around Thanksgiving and in doing so, my mom typically makes us share something that is more than the easy my family, home, friends, etc. She does this not because those things dont count or dont matter, but we expect that answer and it is the easy answer. She wants to know what God is really doing. What has he taught us in the last year. As I reflect on my year, I find myself naturally going past the easy answers now, almost feeling guilty I dont say my husband or son or home. Im definitely thankful for all those, but God was showing me this year how I need to be thankful for the trials. I need to actually praise him for the things I have fought and complained over so much.
And we know that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose.
Ah, my most hated verse. (And yes, I just said that.) We always ask someone their favorite verse, but have you ever heard someone mention their most hated? The verse they dont like, the one they dont get, or just simply eats away at them. Romans 8:28 is mine. Not because it isnt true, but because it is the number one verse people use to minimize trials. I cant tell you how many times this verse made me want to punch someone in the face. People mean well, but they callously use it. Im glad to know God will use all things for good, but when you are a kid, staring at your grandpas casket and brokenhearted family, you dont want God to use it, you wish he never allowed it to happen.
Yet, despite my feelings, it is true. God works all things for good. I just sometimes would like only good things to happen. I have seen God use trials into good, even my grandpas death, but it still doesnt mean I like trials.
Of course, this year God wanted me to CHOOSE to THANK him for my trials. My storms this year have been minimal compared to others in my life, but I have to remind myself that there are all types of storms, storms of different degrees. The point is not to compare. None are enjoyable when you are in the middle of it.
Trial one this year, has been my ongoing pain from my delivery. Im 13 months postpartum and I still have chronic pain. Its nothing like it was a year ago, but lets face it, this still isnt normal. I still cant do normal things without pain. Im frustrated. Im discouraged. Almost a year ago, when we began to realize I wasnt getting better, we began talking about me quitting my job. For those of you in normal jobs where you dont get summer off, TEACHERS DONT QUIT MIDYEAR. Originally I had it set up to take the rest of the year off after my leave which would have been 6 months. It was set into plan, I notified my principal, and then that very day HR called and said they made a mistake and I didnt qualify. I was devastated and my anxiety began. The leave was my backup plan in case something went wrong. I was worried about something wrong with the baby, I never thought it would be me. So there I was in January not physically able to return to work, yet my time was up. I worked though February and then called it quits. The thing is, I have always wanted to stay home with my kids. Its my hearts desire. It was the plan from the very beginning, yet without my complications I never would have left mid-year. I would have been too proud and too guilty to do such a thing to my district, however, I would have lived the rest of my life regretting the time I missed with my son. Some moms work, and that is fine, but it is not me. I was meant to be home, full-time 100% mom, and it would have killed me to miss those 6 months. God knew I was too proud to quit, so he allowed my complications to happen so I could stay home. My husband was the first person who gently pointed this out, and he is right. I dont like how I still have pain, but every time I get discouraged, I thank God for my trial, because without it I would be regretting the time I missed with my baby.
Trial 2 kind of goes with trial one. Anyone that has been even somewhat acquainted with me in the last 1+ years probably knows I have been battling anxiety. I always knew I would not be into the whole birth thing, but anxiety became a huge struggle. My first big bout probably back when I found out I lost my one year leave. When you battle with anxiety, you spend a lot of time trying to prevent attacks from happening, preventing things from being too out of control. Taking a years leave allowed a safety net for me. It solved my:
What if I cant handle juggling work and being a mom?
What if there is something wrong with baby and he needs extra help?
What will I do about childcare?
I wanted to stay home for good, but a years leave saved me a job if I needed it. There was financial security if the whole one income didnt work out. So the plan was to take 6 months off, forfeiting the other 6 months, and if all went well, just be a stay at home mom. Then my safety net was ripped away and I never really got back on top of things. I had good days and bad, more bad as I got closer and closer to my due date. I didnt have many sick days so I was trying to work up to my due date. After a complete attack one night, Danny told me I was either telling my doctor the truth and admitting I couldnt handle working, or he was telling her for me. That last day at work before baby came.
Then baby came. I had a complete full blown attack in the delivery room, so I not only had to deliver a baby but I was battling that as well. Those poor, poor nurses who had to put up with me.
Then I had to go home where there werent nurses = anxiety
I had a baby I loved and wanted nothing to ever happen to him = more anxiety
I wasnt getting better physically = more anxiety
I had to return to work and I wasnt better = more anxiety
I was crippled, controlled by my anxiety, hardly able to get myself to leave my house. I loved this little baby, yet I couldnt protect him from everything. There is no promise that nothing bad would happen to us.
Yet, in all of that, God is asking me to thank him. To thank him for teaching me I am not in control. To thank him for teaching me to cherish every moment. Now a year later, I dont share the feelings I hear other moms share about regrets, wishing they enjoyed certain stages more, wishing they didnt worry about meaningless things, wishing they spent more time. My anxiety has made me live in the moment. To appreciate everyday because no one is promised another. My anxiety strengthened my prayer life, which has been weak since high school. God has challenged me to view my anxiety as an urging from the Holy Spirit to pray against specific harms, instead of always viewing it as an attack on my mind. He wants me to turn my crippling anxiety into good, to pray against fears, to pray against dangers, ultimately releasing control into Gods hands.
Before I had a baby I would just say Well, I just have to trust God with it. While that statement is true, it is also very superficial and immature. God doesnt promise to give us everything we want. In fact he says trials will come our way, so brushing off fears as I have to trust God meaning, God wont let it happen isnt really how we should handle them. God promises to never leave us for forsake us. He promises to hear our prayers. So instead of flippantly brushing off my anxious thoughts, I need to pray against them, surrendering them to God. One of my favorite verses ironically precedes my most hated verse.
And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
The Spirit, God himself, all knowing, perfect, creator and ruler, intercedes on our behalf. To me that is the most settling thing for my anxiety. The best anxiety medicine he gave me was my son. There have been so many times we just snuggle up together, my fear melting away. I dont want to model a life of anxiety for him. He is full of joy, excitement, curiosity, and life, something I dont want to take away from him. While having a baby gave me a lot more to be anxious of, it also has been the best medicine for me, and my anxiety has made me cherish every living moment. For that I am extremely grateful for.