Breathe \ˈbrēth\; to move air into and out of your lungs; to feel free of restraint; to pause and rest before continuing.
I'm in a season of learning to breathe deeply; taking time to pause and reflect and to not become overwhelmed or weary when I feel I'm at the end of my rope or feel like I'm about to unravel. God is breathing new life, thoughts and perspectives into my world and I'm constantly being reminded of His grace with every breath I'm given to breathe.
But there have been times throughout this past year where I've felt unable to breathe.
When our second babe, Blythe, was born (almost a year ago!) my heart was so f u l l. Honestly, I felt like my heart could explode. I was giddy! I quickly fell in love with this beautiful little girl and felt like I had bonded with her even quicker than I had PK. For starters, I knew she was a 'she' when I was pregnant, whereas PK's gender was a surprise. So I had named her and prayed over her by name - 'Blythe' means 'happy + carefree' and that's exactly what I prayed over my belly daily. That she would be a light; that her smile would bring joy to all who see it and that one day, the light inside of her eyes would bring the love of Jesus to many. I was given specific bible verses and words to pray over her life as she formed in my womb. We had a beautiful connection even before I felt her skin on my skin, even before her little fingers entangled mine, and even before I saw her squinty eyes open for the first time as she snuggled against my chest. I knew my girl.
We were also so excited to see PK jump into the role of 'big brother', loving on her, singing to her, praying over her and welcoming her into our family with such open arms. The capacity he has for love that I saw in him in those first few weeks she was home inspired me to no end. He loved her instantly; for no reason and with such abandon. She fit into our family so seamlessly - and still does!
I adore our little family. And as I continue, I don't ever want to miscommunicate that I don't or that I'm not in awe of what I have been entrusted with. I am forever thankful, so grateful and so in love with our kids. That being said, my hubby and I are in the business of being transparent and real; we won't 'fake it 'til we make it'. We will always be honest about what we are walking through, giving ourselves grace to grow and feel as we live this life loving Jesus and continually being moulded by Him into His likeness. Do we always get it right? Nah. Do we mess up? Yeah. But that's the beauty we have come to accept and know as the process.
There wasn't a specific moment where I felt I couldn't breathe, I just noticed one day that life began to feel overwhelming all of the sudden. Little things like doing my makeup, working out (which I once loved), doing the dishes, folding laundry or even playing with my kids began to feel so effort-full. There were mornings where I wake up to my husband in the shower and one or both kids screaming to get out of their rooms and I would just lay there in bed - sobbing. I didn't know why my first reaction in the morning was to cry, but I let myself cry. A lot. I began to face every day as though it was a crisis. I felt so ashamed.
Why wasn't I happy to be a Mom? I know women in my world that aren't able to have kids but so badly want them and here I am just wishing for a morning of silence or even a full day where I can catch up on sleep, dishes, laundry and clean my dark wood floors for the sixteenth time this week. Why couldn't I just do this? I see so many of my Mom friends that own being a Mom - why can't I own this? Why can't this just be the thing that comes easy? I've always wanted kids and the family life, why am I finding the Mom life so hard? Why do I feel so lost and purposeless? I looked in the mirror and didn't even recognize who was looking back. Where had my hope gone? Where had happiness gone? Where had I gone? Why did I feel depressed?
I felt so much shame for thinking those thoughts ^ (and more) and feeling those feelings and THEN felt so much shame for not being able to snap myself out of it. Shame upon shame upon shame. For months. Without telling a soul. For no reason in particular but that I wasn't aware of what I had been walking through. I just felt like this was normal. I thought this was just my new normal: life with two kids. I didn't know any better (again, insert shame). So, it was just me and the devil, hanging out. I really don't like talking about the devil, because it gives him a name and recognition that he doesn't deserve but for the sake of this story and visual - the devil and I were hanging. We hung out in the bathroom as I did my makeup, in bed as I fell asleep at night, as I slept and when I woke up, as I was trying to motivate myself to workout, during my morning devotional and coffee time with God, etc. Our conversations were always one-sided; him talking, me listening and then me believing. I never responded or disagreed. I silently came into agreement with everything he was saying to me.
I slowly started to live in the reality that he was speaking into me - the fear, my lack, the comparisons to other moms, the self-criticisms and body image expectations I had put on myself, the could-have's and the should-have's of parenting two littles and being a wife. I started believing that the times I yelled at my toddler were actually the moments that defined me as a Mom, the times I let the dishes pile-up meant that I was lazy and not fulfilling my "job" as a stay-at-home-mom. There were days when my husband would walk through the door and I would apologize for not having everything tidy and neat. Not because he expected that of me, but I had put it on myself and had let myself believe that not completing those tasks meant I was a failure. I started believing that I would always be a failure as a wife, mom, daughter, friend, sister, worship leader, etc. These feelings went unnoticed and felt so normal until I noticed a shift in my thought patterns. They began to get more negative and debilitating. My reality began to terrify me. I felt trapped and lost inside of my life and my own body.
Your perspective determines your reality.
- Krista Black-Gifford
Oh, how I was in need of a serious shift in my perspective. My mind had been under attack for so long that I hadn't realized just how warped my perspective had become. I had been living my daily life in lack and in the mistakes of the past; hoping that if I completed household tasks or a day without losing my cool on my kids, I would have arrived and somehow become a successful mother/wife/insert role of the day. I was waiting for myself to somehow fill that lack gap that only Jesus can fill. I remember days where I would cry out to Jesus asking him where my freedom was and why it hadn't arrived yet; how I could feel Him, hear Him and know that this freedom I hear about is mine for the taking but just not feeling like I had it?
Those questions (and many more) began an intense process and season of seeking answers to foundational questions about my faith and trust in Jesus; it's an active season. I'm still walking through it so don't picture it as something I've overcome but something that I'm still working through. I can't even put into words what the series 50 Shades of Grace at our church has done in my heart and in the heart of my family. You can check it out here. My pastor owned that series and I'm forever grateful for the revelation of Grace and all the dialogues that happened in between and behind the scenes throughout that series.
I am so expectant for this season I'm in.
And though it ain't pretty, I've seen and felt God move in what felt like an impossible situation and can't wait to share more of my story in the coming posts on the freedom I have found and make a choice to live in daily.