Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Where Were You Ten Years Ago?

Life postpartum for me has been, in a word, overwhelming. I know that description is probably underwhelming--adjusting to a new baby is overwhelming for everyone, right? But it has seemed more so than usual for me--these last almost-seven weeks have seen me feeling completely overwhelmed and broken, with a whole lot of tears.

Part of it is hormones, to be sure. But part of it is also coming face to face with the sin in my heart. I knew God would use motherhood to refine me, and I wanted Him to do so--but I also feared it, because I knew the process would be painful. It's never fun to be confronted with your own ugliness. And there's been plenty of confronting these last several weeks, let me tell you. In some ways motherhood has brought out the worst in me. Compounding matters is the simple fact that I have sown laziness and selfishness for the last two years, and God's Word promises that you reap what you sow--so now I am reaping the consequences of my choices as old habits die hard.

Yet I serve a faithful God, one who is endlessly patient with me and, in His incredible grace, does not treat me as my sins deserve. And time after time, He has provided the encouragement and comfort I need, often using many of you as vessels of His grace and love.

Last Thursday and Friday were, I believe, rock-bottom. I sat at the dining room table on Friday morning holding Elijah and weeping, telling him he deserved a better mama than he got. Our church's women's retreat was scheduled for Friday and Saturday, and part of me didn't even want to go. But Friday afternoon with Elijah went better, and so we went (all the ladies from church were so glad to finally be able to pass him around). Of course it was exactly what I needed. Amazingly, both the format and the date were completely different this year than in the past--and though I'm not so arrogant as to believe it all revolves around me, I am thankful that it was when and what it was this year, because it was absolutely what I needed, just when I needed it most.

On Saturday morning, the woman who was leading our discussion group on Proverbs 31 concluded by affirming each of us, saying that although none of us had raised our hands at the beginning claiming that we were a "strong Proverbs 31 woman," we each were, in our own ways. She said some really encouraging things to me that made me realize: I've come a long way, and God's not finished with me yet.

When I look at my sin, it can be so discouraging. I see where I am and where I want to be, and there's such a chasm between the two that I start to despair. At times like that I need to be reminded to turn around and look backwards. I'm not where I want to be--but I'm not where I started, either. When I stop and think about the person I was ten years ago, as a brand-new baby Christian...oh wow. God has brought me so far from that place and taught me so much in that decade. And so I remember that just as He loved me and patiently led me then, so will He continue to gently, compassionately, faithfully complete the good work He began in me.

And I need to look back even further--to the cross. When my sin is overwhelmingly ugly and I am tempted to despair, I can take heart that God's love for me and acceptance of me as His daughter is not dependent on my performance. It was bought for me once and forever, by the blood of His Son.

8 comments:

sara jean said...

Amy, thank you for so openly sharing your heart. I'm so glad that you were encouraged at that retreat, yes sometimes that is just what we need. And for the record, Elija is one of the most blessed babies in the world because you are his mommy. I love you Amy.

Zoanna said...

I'm so glad to see you've written your struggle out honestly and yet with the emphasis on Christ's love and grace. Nothing has brought out my selfish ugliness like motherhood. I truly believed I was a patient person pre-Ben. Thought I was self-controlled, always kind, gentle--you know, the I Corinthians 13 Cornucopia of good fruit. Then I had a baby. No more foolin' myself. Fooled others, but not hubby and not baby. As for deserving a better anything or anyone, it's just the opposite. I know you know that (in a better frame of mind).

Grandmas said...

Hey, I just found you. I remember after years of being desperate for children I sat crying after our first child was born and said this crazy thing to my Mom. Really, I was bawling and said, "when is this going be fun, I thought this was supposed to be fun!"

Now after #2 I can say, Oh can I say, hold on friend, cling to His promises. With Him you are safe and loved. Don't be too hard on yourself, He understands.
Come visit me at:

leeannmiller.net

Pink Kitty said...

Amy,

Blessings to you and your growing family!

Remember that while we may reap what we sow, as you said, God is loving and forgiving. When we come to Him, seeking forgiveness, He because the loving Father... Daddy... we need Him to be.

Remember: guilt and shame are not of God. They are lies from the enemy to make us ineffective - because we obsess over them. Bind those thoughts. Paul tells us to take all thoughts captive and make it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). The strength we have as believers in the Living God is amazing!

His mercies are new every morning!

And one more, an all purpose verse I say to myself all the time is Psalm 138:8. When I can't think of anything else to combat the negativity, doubt, or whatever it is, I say "He perfects that which concerns me" over and over until I can breathe again.

Michelle McCallum said...

Amy, thanks for being so vulnerable on your blog. I think one of the hardest things about being a new mom is realizing how selfish you actually are. Suddenly all of your time is taken up by a child. It is really important to find time for yourself and for you and Steve. Even if that means going out for an hour to get a cup of coffee- alone or with just Steve. It can be a difficult transition. You will get through it and pretty soon you'll have a rhythm going. I'll be praying for you.

Sally said...

Just dropped by via face-book, this is an honest and excellent post!

Faith said...

Dear Amy,
I've been thinking of you... I'm so glad you're being honest about how difficult this adjustment is. Having a baby is HARD, crazy hard. It has brough out the best and the worst in me. The "worst" moments are scary and humbling.
Please be careful not to allow yourself to be overwhelmed with guilt. Conviction is helpful, guilt is not. This is a CRAZY season of life that will be over in a flash. It is HARD. You're not weak just because you're struggling. Just keep going and keep on finding your hope in Jesus and His perfect plan and promises for your life.
You'll see that He'll use your weakness to accomplish His mighty purposes!!
Much love to you & your baby!

Bethany said...

Hey I know you posted this awhile but the first time I read it I was nursing and couldn't really leave a comment. You know I can relate. Thanks so much for sharing your words. You have been in my prayers even as I walk through this dark cloud myself. It is a roller coaster...one good day one bad day. I know I am learning to ask others for help....something VERY hard for me and learning to run to God. Wish we could sit under a dining room table together and cry. HEE HEE. But know you are not alone. You are the perfect Mom for Elija...God chose to give you him for a reason. Big Hugs to You!!!!!!