This is what I had been waiting for! A new job, a new place, a new start, a new house…just new! How was I to know all this new could still house all the “old” I lugged around within myself? I didn’t have a clue, but my desperation was about to reach new heights and be unleashed in ways I never would have imagined or ever want to tell people…in person…in a group…or on a blog. Selah…smile…breathe…
The first few weeks of Colorado living were kind of a “calm mess.” I say calm because we were staying with a family that made every effort to insure our comfort for the six weeks we were with them. I say mess because when you have 3 babies and a six foot husband and your post-pardum self staying in a very tiny basement at night (big enough for the air mattress we were sleeping on and the futon the kids were on) and during the day Nathan was off with the staff trying to figure out exactly how to start a church while I was in a home that was not my own, in a town I had no clue about, with three children under three…well, let’s just say we did a lot of park time, t.v time, and on edge time. (Did I mention we were starting a church? Did I mention we were all trying to figure out how to do that? Did I mention we didn’t have a clue!? Okay, just wanted to make sure I mentioned it.)
In September of 2006 we began buying our first house. We moved in and that part of the new was a bit exciting. I had moved around so much as a kid; the only stable homes were my Grandparent’s houses. So, this was big for me! Ofcourse, when you buy a house you begin to notice the things you don’t have, and you begin to justify buying them, without the money to buy them, by saying things like, “They are an investment.” or “This is a one time purchase.” And pretty soon you’ve “invested” more than you thought and six years later you’ve paid some of your investments down while accruing others and all of a sudden your bank account makes you an even more desperate person! When you’re praying your husband and kids don’t get sick not just because you want them to be well but because you can’t afford the doctor bills, or even the co-pay, you struggle to feel like a good wife and mom. When you don’t even introduce what a dentist is to your children until they hear a presentation in kindergarten because there is definitely no money for that, you feel like an irresponsible mom. When you try to hide the financial situation from your husband because you hate telling him “no, we can’t do that” on the same day he gets paid, you feel like a wretched wife. These general situations alone, some of which still plague us, can leave you experiencing a desperation that is overwhelming and consuming and crippling.
Back to those first weeks of living in our “new.” Let me just say, I highly recommend that if you move to a new place, with new people you do not know, with three babies and no outside help, and a husband who can’t be home a lot because of, well, starting a church, and some wonderful, godly men from another church invite and pay for said husband to go on a men’s retreat for two nights and three days…tell him with all the love in your heart…”NO!” I believe Nathan left around 9 or 10 a.m. that Friday morning, and I had fallen down on the kitchen floor in extreme sobs, oh, around lunch time. I was alone. I felt trapped. I did not feel inspired or inspiring. I felt very weak. In fact, for the first 3 1/2 years we were here, those were the surprising, unexpected feelings I felt. Here we were in the “new” we had prayed for for over a year, and all I wanted was something…else. Something that wasn’t so hard, that didn’t make me feel so incompetent, so insecure, so stressed, so…desperate.
I had had this grand idea that when I moved to the new place with these new people that maybe all of the weaknesses and sin in me would…could just disappear and I could be the Anastasia of my dreams. Jacob wrestled with God for a night before he received a blessing; I wrestled for about three years before my eyes would start to open to the blessings.
The thing about crumbling into despair and weakness is that it is the very open door the Enemy of your soul stands eagerly waiting for. There would be several more times throughout the years that Nathan would need to be gone – sometimes for an overnight, sometimes for a few nights. I found I could make it through the days pretty well, but it was the nights that were the hardest. When I chose to discard the Truth of who I was in Christ, and settled for the weak, sinful thoughts that the Enemy fed me, my nights turned into my nightmare. (I do not have the energy or time to go into the history behind the many “nights” I have faced as a Christian, but just know since the time I became a Christian the nights have been my place of defeat more often than not. This was nothing new, and that’s the part that frustrated me the most!)
While my husband was away, instead of going to bed early like I could have, I would stay up later…on the computer…watching “quality” things on YouTube…like clips from soap operas.
So that last statement with its period has sat there for almost a week. I had to go and pray about what words may be typed next. It is an embarrassing and shameful sin for me to admit. Here I was, a Christian for more than 10 years, a minister’s wife, loving God with all my heart could hold, and this wretched sin had a hold on me! Now, there are times that I speak with nostalgia about my Great Grandmothers, whom I loved dearly and who loved me back. I will speak of being at their houses, playing Yahtzee, eating yummy food, and watching their “Shows” with them. As a young girl this was just a part of life. As a young mom, there was nothing nostalgic about letting my eyes watch these worthless shows nor was it a part of giving me life.
I would struggle on and off with this temptation for those first 3 1/2 years, and then have to fight off thoughts later still. I dug a dark pit during that sinful time. One that made me spiritually and physically sick. I was becoming snappy and hateful toward my children and husband. I was becoming suspicious of my husband, who had never done anything to warrant it. I was beginning to seclude myself even more, in fear that someone would find out about my horrible secret sin and in shame…so much shame! I shared this sin with one person who thought it was a bit of a laugh, as if a t.v. show was the worst thing in the world, but the truth is, it doesn’t matter what it is. If it is consuming you, causing you to trade His Truth for the world’s lies, it is sin. Period. And this sin was my “comfort” for all the desperate feelings I was experiencing. And this sin was my destruction in the midst of the desperate feelings I was experiencing.
There was no easy out, and no 3-step plan to get me out. There was simply a choice. Every day. Would I choose to keep looking into the darkness that had become so great in my life or would I choose to look up and see the Light that was still available to me? Would I choose to take one step of obedience and then another and then another, and would I choose to hold onto grace when I felt the muddy earth slipping beneath my feet? Would I choose to not have my blessing, and the blessing of my husband and children, taken away because of my disobedience? Would I choose to lay my desperate self, with all my desperate situations and emotions into the outstretched arms of my Jesus? Would I choose to believe, not just say, He loved me? Could I finally see that the “comfort” of the pit of sin…of darkness that I had dug myself into was stealing my life from me, killing any joy in me, and destroying all hope in me? Would I rise up out of the ashes into the beauty God had prepared for me? Would I trust? Would I believe? Would I live?
Thankfully, there is a “Yes” that follows each of those questions! Most steps would not be easy, but they would always be steps forward and up and out of the darkness. To be continued…
All of last week was full of posting and reposting links to the book Desperate and the giveaways that were available. I lay in bed Saturday morning thinking back to my own Desperate story – it made me dizzy! Here is a blessing – I think I even laughed, as quietly as possible so as not to wake my sleeping husband, at some of those moments. It was quite insightful and inspiring, though, to think back to where I was and see where I am. So, this begins my own Desperate story…
Let’s see, oh yes, at 20 my hunky, guitar playing man and I got married and a few weeks later got pregnant and before our first anniversary had Little Man #1! I was so excited to be a mom, to hopefully be a generation breaker of many things that had been “wrong” in my life, and to lead in the ground breaking work of building a new legacy for further generations. I remember the first morning when it was just us three and I was up very early with Christopher. I was feeding him, both from myself and from The Word. That moment, in the dark, stillness of our tiny cabin was monumental for me. I felt all the hope and possibility of being a mother. Then…
Then we moved a little closer to our school, where I was still attending classes part-time and working 20 hours a week and Nathan was attending full-time and no longer working. We had stepped out on faith, thank God for His grace and care that fails not(!), and decided Nathan would not work during the week but would travel on weekends with his college band. Mmhm! Well, that lasted, oh, about a month. At that point, I stopped working, Nathan got a job 30 minutes away at a coffee shop, and on the weekends he was not traveling with the band, he supply preached.
In the midst of the logistics of our life, work, not working, paying all the bills, doing homework, trying to stretch to buy groceries, etc., I was adjusting to being a young wife and a mother. Want to know what? There is a WHOLE LOT no one EVER told me about being a mom! Things like these cute little babies will wake you up from your sleep…every night…for quite awhile! Or that your body would do things you absolutely had not idea it could or would do to you! I never knew that in the midst of being more exhausted than I can even explain and sick with the flu six weeks into motherhood and having to sleep on an air mattress because we didn’t have a bed yet and never knowing if we would get paid, that I would be expected to be a loving, patient, and gentle wife and mother. I had no idea that that would be expected of me, and I had no idea how to make it happen! I was Desperate!
So, 18 months later we had Timothy and were settled in a parsonage in a little town that was taking care of our physical needs at that time. (My husband comes from Dallas…mega churches…we were living in a town of 66 people…farmers…yes, imagine!) Timothy’s pregnancy was so easy that I literally had him and a couple hours later thought, “I could do this again tomorrow!” Easy…well, everything easy about Timothy ended on April 6, 2005, in the hospital. Christopher had been such an easy starter baby – sleeping through the night by 6 weeks, having a soft, low cry, pretty content. Timothy came out screaming and didn’t stop until kindergarten was over! But let’s not get too far ahead…
So, we were living in the small town. I spent more time there because Nathan was still in school full-time and I was a stay at home mom…an hour away from my husband every day…and we only had one car. I was blessed to be in good company with about 4 others moms in the area with children all the same age as mine – God’s grace! Oh, do you remember how I was so eager to “do it again” because Timothy’s pregnancy was so easy? K, well, we did…6 months later. So, there I was, a two year old, a 6 month old, and pregnant. Now, I have not mentioned how I feel during the first part of pregnancy. Well, let’s just say, I’m glad I was staying home by the time I was carrying baby #2! Exhaustion over having an already baby…and then two…and then extreme exhaustion and nausea from being pregnant. Oh, and post-pardum, which I did not know I had, because I thought it only showed up by way of not wanting to be near your newborns. I wanted to be near them, didn’t want to hurt them, but I learned a new “f” word during those years that I am now trying really hard to unlearn…frustrated! (Had some of you holding your breath over that one!) I was frustrated with our crumbling, old walls. I was frustrated that we couldn’t afford for me to decorate anything. I was frustrated that I was away from my husband more than we were together. I was frustrated that we couldn’t find a ministry that fit us better, and that we fit better. I was frustrated that Timothy would NOT go to sleep or sleep through the night or stay well or stop screaming…an no one was telling me why! I was frustrated that I couldn’t sleep. I was frustrated…that I was frustrated and angry and weepy and I had no idea why! I was Desperately frustrated!
So, at some point in my pregnancy with Aaron, I wrote a letter to my husband’s Aunt, sharing all of my “frustrations”, and thankfully, she replied! She informed me of the possibility of post-pardum, what it could look like, and how long it realistically could last. She also pointed out the “desperate” state of my body in the last 2 1/2 years…pregnant, post-pardum while pregnant, still post-pardum from the first, probably, and now the second, and now pregnant again. Not only was I frustrated, so was my body!
Now, the summer Aaron was born was interesting. Still in all those same “positions” with home, work, husband, kids, and frustration; now, add potty training. Please, just take a moment and pray for any mother who is potty training their child…especially when they have other children. Selah. Okay, now add to the potty training, the pressure of being told that you should start around 21 weeks, and it takes, oh, only about a week. Uhhhhuhhh! You’re going there with me, aren’t you?! Now, I was given this information by a very loving and helpful and wise source in my life, so when the week past, and I found myself pregnant, post-pardum, frustrated, yelling, and in tears asking my 2 year old to please forgive mommy, I felt like a complete failure! Failing my husband, because how in the world would I have energy for our “alone time” when I didn’t have energy for any time! Failing my first born because mommy yelled at him most of the time and turned on Blues Clues more than I should have. Failing my second born because I couldn’t console him, keep him well, or stop yelling at him for screaming at me. Failing my third, not yet born because I wasn’t giving him the prenatal, calm, his little inside-mommy’s-tummy-ears were supposed to be hearing. At the same time, we were failing the church and the town we were living in, and they were failing us. We just didn’t fit together, but nothing was opening up for us to move! I – we – were Desperate!
Now, take a deep breath, because here comes a bit of light in all this darkness. The day Aaron was born Nathan was on the phone with the minister who was starting this church in Falcon, Colorado. A few weeks later, Aaron and I flew out to interview with Nathan for the Worship Arts position at this church plant. Four weeks later, we packed everything in a U-Haul and hauled it out to Colorado Springs. This is what I had been waiting for! A new job, a new place, a new start, a new house…just new! How was I to know all this new could still house all the “old” I lugged around within myself? I didn’t have a clue, but my desperation was about to reach new heights and be unleashed in ways I never would have imagined or ever want to tell people…in person…in a group…or on a blog. Selah…smile…breathe…