Happy New Year! It’s been 5 months since my last post and so much has happened! My son, Daniel Washington, was born on Tuesday, September 26th. He is the sweetest and most delightful baby, and he’s brought so much joy to our lives!
As I expected, motherhood has opened up a Pandora’s Box of emotions for me. The last 13 weeks have been absolutely joyful because of the incredible gift of being Daniel’s mom. However, some days have also been extremely difficult! The normal challenges of motherhood, hormonal/biological changes, and my personal history with PTSD have combined to what feels like a roller-coaster ride. Over the past 6 years I’ve learned healthy ways to cope with my loss, and I’ve become pretty good at anticipating possible triggers. I’ve learned the importance of proactive self-care and planning for the emotional and spiritual needs that might come up for me. Although now I’m rarely caught off guard by a trigger, I’m sometimes still surprised by the intensity of the emotions and how debilitating they can be.
Becoming a mom again has been, by far, the most complex trigger I’ve experienced. Daniel is only 3 months old, and I’m still sifting through the complexity of my experience. Yet there is so much I’ve had to process and bring to the Lord in prayer during the past 3 months. I hope to share parts of this experience over multiple posts, and I pray they may be of help to others. There are three specific issues I’ve been dealing with since coming home from the hospital which I hope to write about: coping with a shattered sense of safety, my tendency to resort to control as a coping mechanism, and the bittersweetness of loving Daniel and longing for Gaby. These issues represent the areas that I’ve been most challenged by, and issues that have had the most significant impact on my parenting, marriage, and other relationships.
On Thursday, I was encouraged when I came across these two quotes:
“If you belong to Jesus, only good things can come your way. Even your pain is filled with blessing.” @DesiringGod
“If you belong to Jesus, then everything that happens, ultimately happens for you.” @DailyKeller
I had just started using Twitter the day before, and I was grateful to be reminded (twice!) of such wonderful truth. As I shared in my last post, I’ve had to learn to look for the lessons and blessings in each moment of struggle. The Lord is faithful and has helped me to see the spiritual harvest that comes with life’s challenges. It’s not always immediately clear, but as long as I keep looking through the lens of the Gospel, there is always something that enables me to respond with gratitude. As I thought about these quotes again this morning, the “I belong to Jesus” part finally captured my attention as it should have in the first place. I am His! I praised God for that as my heart was overwhelmed by this most wonderful fact.
I am His and He is my God. The Rock of Ages, the Almighty and Everlasting God, Creator of heaven and earth…He saw fit to make a way for me to be His child. He reconciled me to Himself and I belong to Him. This is the answer to everything, always. He is for me, because I am His. Everything works together for my good, because I am His. I don’t have to be afraid, because I am His. I don’t need to have control, because I am His. I can rejoice. even in the bittersweetness of loving my son and longing for my daughter, because I am His. Praise God, I am His!
The truth is that, in my attempt to cope, I can easily become so focused on trying to see the good in my trials that I lose sight of the God who actually carries me through them. I am so focused on understanding my faith intellectually, I neglect to experience the author of my faith. I’ve realized that I think a lot about God for the purpose of coping, growing, learning, trying to figure out how to best honor Him, etc. These are all good, and I should spend time doing this. However, I am missing out on so much of what it means to belong to Him when I don’t spend more time thinking about God for the worship of Him and enjoyment of His presence.
As the New Year begins, I want to encourage you to look to God for help in all of your circumstances and to trust that He is working in your life through all of it. I also want to urge you to look at God. Meditate on Him, and allow yourself to marvel at the One to whom you belong.
As 2017 comes to an end, I meditate on question and answer 1 of The Heidelberg Catechism
Q. What is your only comfort (hope) in life and death?
A. That I am not my own,
but belong with body and soul,
both in life and in death,
to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ.
He has fully paid for all my sins
with his precious blood,
and has set me free
from all the power of the devil.
He also preserves me in such a way
that without the will of my heavenly Father
not a hair can fall from my head;
indeed, all things must work together
for my salvation.
Therefore, by his Holy Spirit
he also assures me
of eternal life
and makes me heartily willing and ready
from now on to live for him.