Last year, my husband set up this blog and a blog Facebook page for me and gave me a little verbal push. He said, “Here, go be brave and start publishing everything you’ve been hoarding in Microsoft Word.” Brave is something that I’m just not, but it’s something that I’m trying to learn to be.
To be totally and humiliatingly honest, I spent much of 2015 living in fear. The year started off very painfully, and continued to be painful mid-year as we lost a tiny baby last April. It ended up being both the hardest and the best year of our marriage, but it took many months before I started to find my feet again outside my home. Though I started to do real, hard things again, being brave by writing (or at least hitting “publish” on a blog post) just didn’t seem like something worthwhile. I wanted to be an encouragement though, and I found a way to do that by partnering with some other ladies in our city to put on a women’s conference in November.
In December, my husband and I sat and talked about the year past and I told him how surprised I was that it was possible to feel as much as we had in one year. I headed into 2016 with the determination to not spend as much time rocked by anxiety and worry as I had previously. My hope was in God and I had confidence in Him and His goodness. I just had to keep reminding myself of the truth.
With the birth of our newest baby at the end of March, 2016 came health issues and more sleep deprivation than we had experienced with the other four children combined, or at least that’s how it seemed. I still experienced the sustaining grace of God, even in the nights when I slept maybe two or three hours. I don’t think I’ve ever prayed so much. But with sleep deprivation comes many other issues and no matter how cheerfully we may try to keep our outlook, the physical difficulty of it all is real. Added to all that was the reality of a difficult and lonely time because of a very painful church situation that we have been in the midst of.
My mantra was and is, “We’ll get through it because God has this.” (Sometimes you need to just keep telling yourself the truth to keep yourself going.) And now we are through the extreme sleep deprivation part and I am able to look back and see God’s goodness through it all.
Truthfully, I don’t really remember any of April – not more than a few snippets here and there. I know it happened, because the calendar tells me so.
My friend Lindsey recently said that the Holy Spirit comes to us in friends and I have found that to be so very true. Sometime in May, God placed two women in my life who lovingly took the initiative to walk with me through the issues surrounding the sleep deprivation, postpartum issues, issues from past years, and the loneliness that accompanied everything else. The Holy Spirit came and ministered through them, in their life-giving words, and even hard words that I wouldn’t have asked to hear, but they said anyway.
He came to us through the sister-friends who fed us after the baby was born, in the friend who took my kids every Wednesday for a month so I could rest or get things done. He has given friends with words to keep our eyes fixed on him. He has placed women in my life who have kept me accountable and focused on truth and the abundant grace and mercy that God daily offers me.
In the past several weeks, my husband and I have reflected on the way God has redeemed some of the things that we have felt were lost. As we talked the other day, it occurred to me that so much time last year was lost for me because I spent so much of it being anxious. My mind was consumed with all that was happening, things that had been done and said, worries and fears. At some point I did start to use Isaiah 26:3 as my go-to when I was tempted to fixate on my anxious thoughts.
I may not be able to avoid lost time because of lost sleep. I may never be able to turn off the way anxiety eats at my stomach, or makes me feel cold and shaky. But as my friend keeps reminding me, I can choose what fills my mind. I can put away anxious thoughts. I can remind myself of God’s promises. I can fill my home and my heart with truth.
If you’ve lost days or a month or a year, if you’re in a painful season, if you’re certain you’re alone, then remind yourself that we serve the God who redeems all that is lost and broken. Tell yourself the truths that he will never leave or forsake you, that he has whatever you’re walking through well in hand. Look for and take stock of all the ways the Holy Spirit is working and ministering in your life. Hold tightly onto God’s promises. Don’t lose heart; believe that you will see his goodness.
“Wait on the Lord;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the Lord!” Psalm 27:14