The Light in the Darkness

The other day my kids and I were watching some old videos from when the older two were both tiny little bits with adorable little baby babbles.  Miles looked at me asked me, “Mommy…when Nora was born did you ever think you were going to have another baby.”

I had to answer him honestly, that I hadn’t.  I remember there being a fleeting thought of another baby, but it quickly faded.  The time since Nora was born hasn’t always been wonderful.  In fact, there have been a lot of dark times.  It started with a hard pregnancy, and then a few months afterward, postpartum depression that pulled me down deep.  Then came 2016.  

In one year, I watched my healthy, active, full of life uncle pass away from cancer less than a year after being diagnosed.  Just a few months later one of my grandmas passed away.  Then the very next month both my grandma and grandpa on the other side of my family ended up hospitalized on the same day, my grandma from a stroke that has left her bedridden and unable to go home for over 2 years now.  My mother had to rush to California to care for them, and hasn’t ever really been able to return home to Arizona.  As we debated my flying out as well, our house flooded.  A few days later a friend of ours got into a terrible accident while trying to help us fix the water drainage issue that caused the flooding.  And then a few days after that, we got the news that another beloved family member was just diagnosed with another life threatening illness.  It was like we couldn’t catch our breathe.

Things kept happening in the circle around us…people getting sick or dying, friends walking through the unspeakable pain of losing precious 4-month-old babies, people getting laid off, people we loved struggling with trauma.  There were so many funerals that year that I lost count.  There were many things that are not my story to tell, but that affected us greatly.   

It was dark.  I felt myself asking questions of God I’d never had to ask before…never felt I had the right to ask before.

In all this, there was no thought of another baby.  In some ways, deep down, it seemed like if we did have another baby we’d only be met with more sickness and loss…just like everything and everyone else around us.

But it was in all that darkness that the light of Christ broke through and shined on us like a beacon of hope.  He brought us out of the darkness into a good place, and then He gave us a gift we didn’t know we needed.  A gift in the form of a tiny baby.

This afternoon I watched my 3rd baby eat mango in the same corner of my little kitchen as my first two babies sat and ate mango.  Two years ago at Christmas, I could never have looked forward and seen the hope and joy that fill my heart today.  I could never have foreseen this little joy baby that God gave us when we needed joy the most…when He wanted us to trust that He is good, even when things are dark.

I know that the darkness outside this time of year for many of you is just a reflection of the darkness in your life that you’re struggling with, sinking it, just trying to catch a breathe in.    

There’s a quote from The Fellowship of the Ring that resonates with me when I’m in those dark places.  Galadriel gifts the star of Eärendil to Frodo and she tells him, “May it be a light to you in dark places, when all other lights go out.” 

Each of us will come to a place in our lives, and maybe we’re in it right now, when it will feel like every light has gone out.  Sometimes it’s even, or especially, in this Christmas season when all is supposed to be happy and full of hope, but instead it feels as dark as the winter days…as dark as the “bleak midwinter”.  

It is into this darkness that another tiny baby named Jesus longs to slip.

The apostle John begins it this way (emphasis mine): “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through Him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made.  In him was life, and the life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome itThe true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.”

Into the darkness of our lives and our hearts, when all other lights have gone out, Jesus is waiting to shine.

Corrie Ten Boom’s sister, Betsy, in one of the darkest places imaginable, said that they must tell others that “there is no pit so deep, that He is not deeper still.”  

This Christmas season, I want to encourage you to not let the darkness overwhelm you…to not lose hope.  Instead, look to the Light that can break through all of that darkness.  The Light that never fades and never gives up.  The Light that shines bright even when all other lights have gone out.  

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5 Truths About Post Partum Depression

5ppdMy husband recently suggested that we go in with his family on renting a lakehouse for Super Bowl weekend like we did last year.

Honestly…the idea sounded awful to me.  Last year during that time I was knee deep in the mire that is Post Partum Depression and didn’t yet recognize it.  I was frustrated with everyone, didn’t want to be around people, and was dealing with this heavy grey fog that I couldn’t explain or shake.  Just thinking about it puts my stomach in knots.

I cannot begin to describe how wonderful it is to not be in that fog anymore.  Yet, my heart goes out to those currently dealing with it, or thinking that they might be dealing with it.

Post Partum Depression is surrounded by a a lot of lies and hearsay.  Today, I present you with 5 truths about PPD…from someone who has been there herself:

1.) Post Partum Depression doesn’t make sense.

You may be incredibly sleep deprived or you may be getting a solid 8 hours every night.  You may be dealing with a ton of stress and worry, or you may have absolutely nothing big to be worrying about.  It doesn’t really matter or make a difference.  The worst part about PPD is that you feel a certain way in your heart, knowing full well that there is no reason that you should be feeling that way.  Why would you secretly want to run away from that sweet baby that you are so in love with and that you know is a gift?  Why would you feel hopeless when new life and hope is constantly in front of your eyes?  It just doesn’t make sense.

2.) Post Partum Depression manifests differently in different women.

Some women experiencing PPD may want to run away from their babies.  Others may be unreasonably fearful of even letting them out of their arms.   Others may switch back and forth and become extremely moody.  The common thread is that you know in your heart that something is not right…something is off.

3.) Post Partum Depression is not your fault.

One of the biggest lies about PPD is that women who have it are at fault.  They don’t eat enough nutrients or get enough sleep.  They focus too much on themselves.  They don’t focus on themselves enough.  They don’t get out of the house enough.  They aren’t thankful for the gifts they have.  They haven’t turned to God to help.  Or, heaven forbid, they didn’t encapsulate their placenta and consume it.

My friend, all of these are lies.  Post Partum Depression is a mean, hormonal mess that no woman ever deserves.  Simply put, we live in a fallen world and sometimes are bodies just don’t work right or regulate themselves as they should.  Those messed up hormones can control our thoughts, feelings, and emotions to a terrible extent.

4.) Post Partum Depression is a bully.

My biggest memory of my struggle with PPD is that I felt oppressed.  Feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness overwhelmed me and I felt no power to shake them.  PPD can make you do terrible things like scream at your children or call your husband ugly names.  It can paralyze you with fear to the extent that you’re afraid to step foot outside the front door.  It can make you feel like a terrible mom for not feeling “connected” with your baby.  PPD is a bully in that it intimidates you and makes you act or feel in a way that you don’t want to.

 

5.) Post Partum Depression isn’t forever.

It may not seem like it right now, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.  There is help.  Hormones do shift back to normal.  The fog is not unending.  Take it from a mama whose been there.  Know that you’re not alone.  I made it through…and so can you.

 

If you’re struggling with Post Partum Depression, or think you might be, please PLEASE speak out and get help.  Don’t try to “fix” things or trudge along alone.  If you need help don’t hesitate to email me at thelifenotmyown@gmail.com . 

 

When the Greyness is Darker than the Dark

*I wrote this as I was coming out of PPD, and thought I’d share it with you all.

Dark times and trials are awful, don’t get me wrong.  But at least when you’re in them, you know they’re in them.  And you feel justified to be sad, upset, or at a loss to know what to do.

Those grey times can be so much harder.

You know those times.  Life is good, really it is.  You don’t have any big trials to get through or problems to solve.  Yet somewhere deep inside you just feel off.

On the outside, everything is good.  You put on a good facade.  Because times are relatively good, no one would have any reason to suspect that something was not right.  You hear of other people’s hard, awful trials, and you feel ashamed for the way you feel.  Almost like you have no right.

Know that there is no shame in the greyness.  It’s hard too.  I know.  Light shines clearly in the darkness.  But in the grey fog, it often gets muddled.

Yet, know this too: God’s light is not the kind of light we understand.  It doesn’t get muddled or lost in the grey.  It shines clearly and with warmth, dissipating it away…more like the sun than a lamp.

There is no shame in the greyness.  It is just as hard as the darkness.  Hold fast to the True Light that cuts through the fog.