I am a stay @ home mom of four by choice & force (teacher salary ≠ good childcare for 2 kids). I love God. I am also human… sinner saved by grace through faith alone… which often fails. I value prayer over pity. Value prayer over judgment. I value prayer over assumptions & prayer over good advice from “… if I were yous.” I value prayer over all… well, maybe not over a decently cleaned house (😊 what?). So, as you read this, try your hardest not to judge, assume, think about if you were me or figure me out. My name is Esther with no other genetic or spiritual duplicate on this earth, just as you are you. Just listen then pray for me. I’m writing this blog with courage… with a hope another mama can breath out ALL that is within. I’m writing this blog with the hope that when she does, YOU – who will have read this – will hear her then pray with the same things in mind.
May 11, 2018 will be etched in my mind (and emotions). It was the day after baby girl turned 4 months. The day before we welcomed the boys’ grandpa, uncle and other family who hadn’t seen her yet. Two days before Mother’s Day. May 11 was the day I hit a depth unfelt in my mind and emotions.
It could’ve been stress about welcoming family into our post-baby, laundry everywhere, end-of-the year homeschool environment. It could’ve been the unprocessed emotions of my aunt/mom’s sister and my grandfather/dad’s dad dying in a 1-2 week time span. It could’ve been the late tutoring hours scheduled to help pay down medical debt. And honestly, it probably was the fear I faced when my dad was hospitalized for a couple of days, not knowing if it was related to a life/death heart issue (it wasn’t, praise Jesus). Either way, it was this daddy’s girl’s worst fear.
All of this occurred as life’s schedule still moved on as it should.
Despite the external circumstances that could have caused me to enter into darkness, they were actually irrelevant. They were just instruments that eventually uprooted undealt with thoughts and emotions about marriage, parenting, faith, health, homeschooling, having a baby, breastfeeding and more that I had not processed. I just held them. Shelved it until later. That is… until I ran out of space.
The unprocessed overflowed into a pitch black and closed closet where adjacent, running washer and dryer drowned out the screams, wails and overwhelming flood of tears that consumed my body.
I had met my match… and it was me.
The science of it all: I just had my fourth child four months ago after carrying her for nine months (women’s bodies are amazing, complex and explosive). I am exclusively breastfeeding. I am whole30-ing. Oh… and I, by myself, interact with 4 little people under the age of 8 all day. This is beyond Post-Partum Depression. This is life scheduled beyond crazy. Mmm… yeah. My body is in a temporarily crazy season. Imagine what the little characters from Inside Out could be doing.
The spirit of it all: I seek strength in my own self instead of God aka am a perfectionist. I have fear-based and entitlement-based expectations and ideals. I am still independent-minded (if I can do it myself, I will… if not delegated to little people). I still don’t completely understand teamwork or completely healthy communication in marriage. My mind meditates on my to-do list more than on scripture. I pay more attention to lacks or the undone than what is present. I am weak and often distracted from God being strong.
Sidenote – perfectionism isn’t just about having things neat, a certain way, etc. Perfectionism is creating an often unrealistic goal, image or ideal and doing whatever it takes to see it accomplished while sacrificing the health of self/people, not depending on God in weakness, nor vulnerably reaching out to your family/circle/community. Simply put… we make things, including image and ideals, more important than people. Not. Cool.
In that pitch black closet, my husband and children naïve to my state (thankfully!), I had to literally hold my head with every cream (cry + scream). It felt like everything I had been trying to hold in was leaving through my temples… my jaw… my face. My heart was cracking with streams of what I had not processed, flowing onto the awaiting shores of my face… and shirt (man, that thing was soaked). The name of Jesus was the only thing I could say as the depths of my soul reached for Him.
Then the cries stopped. Everything became quiet as I then so loudly heard…
“You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You…” (Isaiah 26:3).
There it was. Peace. I breathed. Got up and walked out of my closet. Changed my shirt, sent raw & honest “PRAY!” texts to a couple of prayer peeps who knew the series of events in my life (including my mama!) and kept it moving to prepare for the weekend. However, the oceans came again as I started cleaning the bathroom. It seemed as with every sob (yes, I was soooooobbing), my heart and mind were just unloading all that I had loaded it with. I mean… I was cleaning AND crying like an emotionally-wrecked movie character!! I didn’t want my kids to hear me (honest), but I didn’t care if they saw my watery eyes when they came to kiss me goodnight. Discipling and aiming arrows is about our children seeing us in our good and bad, seeking (or crying out to) God in both seasons.
I stopped my to-do list. My body was tired. I didn’t want to talk, but I knew I needed to with my covering – my husband. Numb, I shared my heart, at times crying at my own words and then his. We prayed together and then he left for bed. I prepared to end the night with pumping so baby girl could have her supply of milk she missed from earlier… but nothing came out. Not even one full ounce. My body was so stressed that it couldn’t produce nor let down to feed my own child.
Again… I lost it.
I was distraught. I cried at my inadequacy. I hated the sinfulness of my thinking that had me so stressed. I couldn’t believe I had worked myself up so much that I couldn’t provide for my own. It didn’t matter that she was sound asleep or that there was emergency formula. My mind was warped by a voice louder than my God and my husband. I realized later that I had forgotten the last part of Isaiah 26:3… the WHY behind the peace:
“…because he trusts in You.”
I was trusting myself – seeing myself as the soul source of provision in ways deeper and far beyond breastfeeding.
I trudged to a corner of our dining room, street lights streaming through our window. The ball of my body became encompassed with a shadow so real yet so intangible. I was heaving as I thought of ALL of my inadequacies as a wife, mom, homeschool teacher, and more all at once. Suddenly, skin brushed up against mine, and I looked to see the silhouette of my husband, him making his way to sit next to me in my devastated state. I pushed him away with my weak arm while sobbing “No! NO!” (Yes, this is real talk). I didn’t want him there. I didn’t want his consolation. I just wanted to wallow in… whatever this was (HONEST). Eventually, through what is probably the UGLIEST cry he’s ever seen from me, I told him about the pumping incident and what I interpreted that to mean about me. He listened. He didn’t leave. He didn’t say a word. He just sat there. And that’s when I remembered his name and meaning again…
Emmanuel – God with us
As in a moment years before, my God over all revealed Jesus in a way that quieted every demonic voice and emotion over me. In one moment. Through one tangible person. And it was there that I began to come out of the darkness…
… and Into the Light. Part II