Monday, October 26, 2009

Day 26

This morning I stepped way outside my comfort zone and spoke at my local MOPS groups about depression and seeking help through therapy.

What led me to this? It started with never addressing my pain and the past. And by being too busy. For many years I thrived on staying busy. I took care of everyone besides myself. I became a Christian in 1995 during one of the worst times in my life. I truly didn't understand discipleship and no one really took me under their wing so if I felt it was my responsibility to fix my life. God could do anything but I felt He wanted me to do it. That was a mistake. He never meant for me to do it outside of Him.

Life was ok for a while, but progressing got harder. I dealt with infertility and years of treatment, eventually conceiving triplets and losing 2 of my 3 girls. Then things escalated into taking care of a special needs daughter. Life seemed to stabilize after a while and we had our now 4 year old and life became somewhat routine. I never really realized how far away from the gospel I was. Without even realizing it - I became works based. I would have said my salvation alone was in Christ. And I still do believe I thought that. But I somehow convinced myself that a Godly Christian woman was the woman who handled everything and did it well. So that was my goal. Everything else, including my spiritual development and emotional well-being, became secondary.

I took care of my husband and helped run our business. I had 2 special needs children and took my ailing grandmother in and helped care for her. During all of this I kept up with my regular wife and mom duties as well as serving as the coordinator of a thriving MOPS group. The girl's busy therapy schedules took what little time I had left. I seldom had a moment to breathe. Somehow I thought this was the life of a dedicated Christian mom. But I was completely out of balance with zero time for myself much less real one on one time with God. I was always doing. Simply doing - never being.

Eventually this life took it's toll on me. After years of doing and doing and doing, I found myself easily agitated. I yelled a lot and really just existed rather than lived. I didn't have a spiritual life to speak of. I did pray and read an occasional devotional. I also led my MOPS teams in devotionals, but something was missing.

Then in September of last year I came down with shingles. I was miserable and the medication I took had me sleeping 12-14 hours a day when I had previously existed on 5-6 for years. The bare minimum got done. I was completely debilitated.

Then when I started recovering, I actually started falling apart. I couldn't go back to doing everything I was doing. It was no longer possible. I just wasn't as functional as I had been before. I wasn't able to keep everything organized and going. I just fell apart. I think it scared my husband and I found myself getting angrier and even more easily frustrated. I didn't know what to do.

In complete despair I sought counseling. I called one place that really should have offered me a discount for being a pastor's wife but they didn't. And without a discount or insurance I couldn't afford their fees. Then I called a local university that had a counseling center where I would see a supervised graduate student. When I called they actually didn't have anyone to meet with me. It was a week before Thanksgiving and I needed to have a 2 hour slot for my first appointment. I was pretty much hysterically laughing when the receptionist said they might not could fit me in before the holidays.

Seriously? Seriously God? Here I am - where are you? I remember being SO angry. Incredibly angry and ready to give up. The receptionist must have sensed that I was at my breaking point and asked me to hold. It turns out she happened to ask a different student who was there if he could fit me in and after finagling my ridiculous schedule we found a 2 hour time slot that worked for us both. I remember thinking what on earth can a grad student do to help me. I had such a fatalistic view of the whole ordeal but there was nothing left to try.

Then I met "T" and the actual therapeutic healing process started. God had been planting seeds and working on me since September of 2007 but i just wasn't getting it. Thus He allowed an awful sickness to weaken me so I had to look outside myself for help.

Have you ever gone on vacation and left room in your suitcase for souvenirs, etc? But somehow you overbuy and can barely get your suitcase zipped? That was me. I had packed away years of stress and anxiety and hurt and pain and zipped it away thinking it would just go away if I never acknowledge it. I wanted to run from it - to pretend it never happened. And for a while this seemed to work. But that was a lie. Eventually I over packed and couldn't shut the suitcase completely. Yet I continued to try and cram more in. I could sometimes get it shut, but for the most part things started slipping out until the zipper broke and the suitcase exploded open and things went everywhere.

That suitcase was me. I exploded and became this person I never meant to become. I remember looking in the mirror and thinking who have I become? How did I get here? Who is this? Why me? Why now? Why God? That's when my self-reflection started.

Self-reflection is frightening. It's hard to look in the mirror and see someone you recognize but do not know. There is a fine line between allowing self-reflection to lead you closer to God and to let Him use it to heal you as opposed to letting it lead you to more shame and guilt. My fear of the unknown is almost greater than my fear of my current circumstances. Self-reflection is definitely humbling. But it's enlightening as well. It took a while for that reflection to turn to God but it did.

It's now been almost a year since that process started. I look back at myself this time last year and I am simply do not recognize the woman I was. I am a different Leah. I am becoming free in Christ. I am 85 pounds less in weight, I exercise, I eat right, I feed my soul and I work on dealing with my past. I still don't know where I am headed. Not exactly exactly anyway although I do have glimpses. But for the most part I am learning to embrace the process of healing and just being (yes "T" I said that).

I have been and am still learning to embrace even the ugliest parts of myself. The solace and complete acceptance I have found in therapy have been like balm to my soul. God is using that therapy now coupled with this journey of solitude to turn me completely towards Him. I no longer truly hate the process because even though it hurts like hell at times - God is using it to heal me. How can I hate that?

Today's Reflection: Today I am less scared. Thank You Lord for using me even in such a small way with a short snippet of my testimony. Thank You for using this turmoil for Your glory. You are faithful. Your word is true and doesn't return void (Isaiah 55:11). All things come together for good to those who love the Lord and are called according to His Purpose. (Romans 8:28). I feel so incredibly grateful and at peace. My story is long and sordid and to be honest on most days I still dislike thinking about the past and sharing it. But today I took a step forward. A baby step - but a step none-the-less. This time next year (hopefully sooner) I will no longer be fearful at all and without any hesitation will be willing to share my heart with whomever You lead me to.


Jill October 27, 2009 at 5:38 AM  

Leah, I am so proud of you for being so open here with us on this blog, but also for sharing your story with your MOPS group. You probably helped more women than you'll ever know. big hugs.

JaelCustomDesigns October 27, 2009 at 5:44 PM  

Popping in from MBC!
Now following your blog...

Wow! My hat goes off to you for being so open with your personal story.

You know our experiences make us who we are and allow us to help others through our experiences whether we know it or not.

Organize Your Life October 28, 2009 at 1:08 AM  

Life can be so much more challenging than it needs to be. Faith is all important and seeing the bigger picture.

Well done!

I found you on Friends following friends on MBC. I would love to see you follow/comment at my blog Organize Your Life Now


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My "other" blog is more about day to day life with my husband and kids and rants and raves about a variety of subjects. Hope on over.

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