I’m a hopeless romantic.
A believer in fairytales.
And yes, a believer in miracles.
But what happens after the dream? The fairytale? The miracle?
What happens in between “happily ever after” and “the end?”
And in my case, what happened to whimsy?
In 2017, I took a deep breath, typed a few words, and confessed to cyberspace that infertility is hard, unfair, and isolating. But thankfully we are held together by the God of comfort, of good, and inclusion.
For me, that was a bold step. That was not something I spoke about with my closest friends. Not something I talked about with my mom. But God called me that year to be bold, to be brave, and to be obedient.
I think a lot about that girl. I miss her joy. Her light. Her energy. And of course, her whimsy. I knew that motherhood would change me. I knew that life would never look the same. I looked forward to it. My home is no longer quiet. My hands are no longer idle. My heart is no longer broken. In fact, it’s full. Bursting at the seams.
God granted the greatest desire of my heart and what did I do for Him in return?
I went back to my old ways, trying to do everything on my own.
In short, I abandoned Him.
This reaction was 100% instinctual and 100% intentional.
Come on, God gave me the one thing I couldn’t do for myself. The one thing I couldn’t hustle my way though. The one thing that caused me to rely 100% on Him, so how dare I come back to Him and ask for more?
You see, if I want to come back and be that girl, I need to once again confess.
I need to be bold enough to ask for God’s help.
What happens to the girl who finally gets everything she has ever wanted?
She allows fear in.
That’s right, I’ve been hiding out.
I could dive into long narratives about the specifics of my fears. But I don’t think those are helpful or necessary (that’s what my counselor is for, bless him!).
What I think is helpful is to confess that I’ve been once again leaving God out of the equation. I’ve been prideful. I’ve been trying to do it all on my own. And that pride is a sin.
My friend Ashley said it best, “Of course God would give you twins. You’re an over-achiever and that’s the only way to slow you down. To make you ask for help.”
So, what don’t I ask for help? Why don’t I once again get in my spot with my cup of coffee at 5AM and cry out to God to help with my fear, my anxiety, my need to control? Because, in my human mind I think, “Haven’t I asked God for enough?”
You may be laughing at this absurdity. Shocked. Surprised. Confused. Yeah, I’m all of those things. But for me, this is my reality. My hard conversation with myself. In my head, I know God does not put a quota on our needs. It’s not a Christmas list and He crosses items off because we’ve asked for too much. He’s God. He’s not human. And I agree with Ashley. God gave me twins because He knew that was the only way I would have to ask anyone for help.
So again, what happened to the whimsical girl who finally got the miracle she prayed ten years for?
She has allowed the joy of that miracle to be overshadowed by paralyzing fear and anxiety.
Why? Because how dare she ask God for one more thing.
The more I’ve been thinking upon this. The more God keeps putting these exact conversations in my direct path. Like, can’t ignore it, words-spilling-out-of-their-lips-when-all-I-say-is-how-are-you, path.
I sat in a quiet room recently with a dear friend where both she and I confessed eye ball to eye ball that motherhood is hard. Asking for help is hard. With tears rolling down our cheeks, it only took a few words for us to both let go of pretense and admit that the journey to motherhood is sometimes only half the battle. And right when the conversation was finally starting to lift, her bouncy long-legged four-year-old burst into the room, ran right up to me with a full embrace, and said “I’ve missed you!” I wanted to cry all over again. I think God has been saying the same thing to me too; “I’ve missed you!”
Another conversation spilled into my Instagram messages last week. A former student in the same season of life regarding motherhood, only separated by a decade (or more) of life experiences, admitted to me that she had been struggling with “a fear of new beginnings and experiences.” She ended what she called a “rant,” and I called a much-needed confession with, “I’m a happy person, I swear. This year has just been overwhelming.”
“Truth!,” my heart screamed out. And as absurd as it sounds, I’ve been wondering if at thirty-five, I’m just too old to get this whole motherhood thing. Have I spent too many years going my own way, that I’ve missed my window of opportunity to be really good at this? Have I asked God to help me be good at motherhood? No! That’s crazy. He’s has more important requests.
And then some of the most vulnerable conversations of all have been happening in private. Over Voxer. My go-to Walkie Talkie app where friends can record a voice message at their conveyance. Some of these messages have come from the West Coast, five-hour time difference, where a third-time veteran mom with a newborn admitted to me, but mainly to herself, that “I can’t take this anxiety anymore. I finally admitted to my husband how I feel.” Her shaky voice echoed all the feelings reverberating in my heart. What would it look like if we all really took the time to confess how we feel and simply ask for help?
That same week, another dear friend, practically in my backyard, who is an adoptive mom and a foster mom, sent me a message. Hiding in her closet, she just needed ten minutes to herself, and she chose to spend those ten minutes with me filling me in on her currently seven kids; two adoptive, five foster. Her message of heart break, of mom guilt, of anxiety eventually interrupted by a little boy who shouted, “I found you!”
Ok, God. I get it. I’m not alone. WE are not alone. Youfoundus. There seems to be this community of moms, new or veteran, twenty-something or thirty-something, who are all experiencing the same symptoms: anxiety, fear, guilt. It’s so comforting to know we are not alone. There is something so incredibly powerful about admitting these feelings and then hearing the response, “Oh my goodness, me too.” But what’s even more comforting? You. We have you! We always have!
To be perfectly transparent, I don’t know if I believed in mom guilt, mom anxiety before the boys were born. I guess it’s just one of those things you have to experience for yourself, like jumping out of an airplane, or watching Downton Abby all the way through. You don’t get it, till you get it.
You know, these hard conversations are just what God wants.
Keeping these feelings to ourselves is what the enemy wants.
And the truth is, hard is not relative. Hard is hard. There is no harder. There is just hard.
We need to stop ranker our hard against everyone else’s hard just to make us feel better (or worse) and just commiserate on the fact that we all have hard. And God wants us to have hard. Because having hard means we actually need Him! And yes, “every hour I need thee!” Thank you, Annie S. Hawks, who wrote these lyrics.
This year I never declared my word for the year. In truth, I never settled on a word that felt right. I tried a few on for size. Some required too much, others too little. Well, with five months left in the year, I’m ready. I’m ready to stop allowing fear to paralyze me. I ready to break free from the anxiety that has kept me in hiding. I’m ready to invite God back in to help. I’m ready to be brave.
That’s right, 2019 is not over yet. I have #fivemonthstobebrave.
I am going to continue to focus on empathy and openness. Encouraging others to shake free of what is shackling them. And I ask you all to encourage me. I don’t want to raise my sons in a home controlled by fear. By a mom ruled by her anxiety. I want my sons to live a life of faith, of trust, of whimsy.
So, to kick off my campaign to be brave, here is a picture of me in a bathing suit, mom bod and all. Twin skin flapping in the wind. Encouraged by some former students while on a bachelorette trip I was way too old to attend, they inspired me more than they’ll ever know. They snapped this pic. Dared me to post it. Called me out for being the brave role model they once learned from and worked alongside in the classroom. These young ladies are now teaching me.
Yes, sometimes students do know best.
And the teacher learns the lesson.
Here we go friends, #fivemonthstobebrave.
“I need Thee, O I need Thee; Every hour I need Thee;
O bless me now, my Savior, I come to Thee.”
The Big Bang Theory, Series 03 Episode 23 – The Lunar Excitation