To the one Struggling: Hang on just a Little Bit Longer

One life saying that has gotten me through many hard trials and seasons of suffering is this, “The last catastrophe you thought would end you didn’t.”

In a sense, every time a new hard trial or task would face me, I would remember that the last time I felt the anxiousness, the fear of the unknown, the questions, and the heartache, I got through them. I am a standing testimony of the many trials and tests I have been through; and so are you.

You may be facing something old or something new that is rearing it’s ugly teeth at you, making you want to run as fast as you can away from everything. Whether it’s a sickness, anxiety, depression, a personal loss, a personal tragedy, a broken relationship, whatever it may be, let this encourage you. You’ve made it through hard things before; you were made to face hard things, and you can do it again.

There was a time in my life, in the pit of despair and anxiety, that I was walking outside. It was a beautiful day on the outside, but inside my mind was full of dark clouds of fear and depression. I remember walking and talking with God, and just telling Him, “I can’t do one more day of this. Please Lord, deliver me or take me. I can’t live like this.” Tears streamed down my face. Not hard sobs, no I had done plenty of that. These were just the remnants of what strength I had left, rolling down slowly. Each tear represented one more plea for freedom, one more begging request for ease to my soul.

I remember saying that to God and looking up at a branch above me. There was a bird and if you know me, you know birds are my favorite animal. They fly with such freedom; live with such a peace that God will take care of their needs. If they need food, they know where to find it. If they need shelter, they know where to go. I looked up at the bird and heard a still small voice, “Remember the last time you felt like this? You made it through. Keep going, I will strengthen you. Just like that bird, fly in freedom and know I am the supplier of your needs.”

I walked home, still anxious. I went to bed that night, still heavy. But I had a new way of thinking, I will make it through this too because He is taking me through it. I wanted my life to end that day if it meant carrying that heaviness one more second. Had I had my request granted, I would have missed the fulfillment of all of God’s promises and more in my life. At the time of this story I was single, childless, directionless, and weak. Now I am married to a godly man, have an angel baby in heaven and a baby here with me on earth, I have learned how to renew my mind in the Lord and fight against fear and anxiety, and I walk with hope for the future and joy in my heart. I couldn’t have imagined how much God would do between then and now. But that is my point. In the midst of your despair, don’t make decisions that can be permanent. Hold on a little bit longer.

Remind yourself of the last heartbreak you went through; you made it. Remind yourself of the laughter and joy and peace you have felt since the last time you felt anxious; it’s possible. Remind yourself of the other traumas and pains you have made it through; life continues. Sometimes we believe that the next catastrophe will end us…. then it doesn’t. I am not discounting your pain, your hurt, or your trial; what I am saying is there is hope for a future, so don’t give it up.

My undergraduate and graduate studies are in psychology and counseling. One interesting study I read once has really helped me through many tough times (I love when my faith and education combine; it’s beautiful). The study found that the “high” joyous times in our lives are not as amazing as we would imagine them. For example, you get that raise and you are joyous, but then come back down to a happy medium. But on the flip side of that, the “low” times we dread are not as bad as we imagine they will be. So when asked what you would do in a hard time, you imagine it way worse then it actually will be. Why does this help me?

Because when anxiety tries to make me dread something in the future, I remember that it won’t be as bad as my mind tries to make me believe. I remember that I am not alone to face hard battles; and if you find yourself alone on Earth, you are still not alone, because our God never forsakes us (Deuteronomy 31:6; Hebrews 13:5). When that next trial or test or temptation comes against you, fight it with the strength of God instead of your own strength. Align your thinking with the Word instead of your “reality”. Thoughts stuck in a negative cycle? Make yourself think on good things, things of good report, things worthy of praise, things that are pure and true (Philippians 4:8).

One of the lies of the enemy in our lives is that we are stuck. We are stuck anxious, we are stuck depressed, we are stuck struggling, we are just stuck with no hope for change. But darling, let me shine some truth on that lie. You will never be stuck, not as long as you are breathing. 1 John 4:4 says that He that is in us is greater than he that is in the world! That means whatever is coming against you, you can know for a fact that the One on your side is more powerful. Then why isn’t He working on my behalf, you ask?

Sometimes when God is trying to work, we can be working against Him. If you know you struggle with a sin and continually open yourself up to it, that is a matter of self discipline. Pray for wisdom and self discipline and He will give it to you. If you are continually choosing relationships with people who are abusive and in bad lifestyles, don’t continue to choose those relationships. Pray for discernment in people and good, godly relationships. If you know that you tend to be pessimistic and negative in your thought life, don’t be a slave to your thinking, renew your mind and make your thoughts come into alignment with the Word. Surrender every part of your life to God, and let Him do His work while you do yours.

All of this is to let you know, that if you are in the midst of a life storm and struggle, whatever it may be, it is not your last chapter. It is not your end. Life will continue and you will get up from this. And there will be laughter again, and joy will spark your heart once more. Peace will be there waiting for you and love is still alive. What is barren will bear life, what is dry and thirsty will be quenched. What is dead will be brought to life. Don’t lose hope, and don’t be a prisoner of your struggle. Instead, be a prisoner of hope. When life tries to force your hand to succumb to despair, instead choose to remain a prisoner of hope (Zechariah 9:12). Be in a place where you cannot stop hoping for change.

Know that whoever you are, wherever you are, whatever struggle you are enduring, keep enduring and hang on just a little bit longer. I am praying for you in this season and know that what was meant for your ruin, God will use for your good (Genesis 50:20). I love you all and pray for you earnestly!

Postpartum Body: Does it get Easier?

I promised I would be vulnerable on here and I just want to talk about something I am struggling with pretty bad. My postpartum body. It’s been almost 9 months since I gave birth to John, and I still haven’t “bounced back”. As I watch so many friends who gave birth around the same time as me post their pictures and somehow look like that lost weight being pregnant, I can’t help but feel so discouraged.

I never thought I would have an enemy. This enemy seems to be everywhere, all the time. It’s a reminder of the things I hate about myself and I can’t stand to look in it. This enemy: the mirror. Y’all I absolutely hate getting undressed in front of the mirror. I hate seeing those stretch marks, the jiggly belly, the extra pudge. I pull the fat around my face back to remember thinner days. I turn sideways and see what looks like a 2 month pregnant belly. I turn around and look at the rolls on my back forming as I turn. I feel utter disgust. Humiliation at my husband seeing me. Tears welling up in my eyes.

Last night my husband weighed the baby by first standing on the scale and then holding John and standing on the scale. I glanced at the weight of them two together and felt a punch to the gut: they weigh less together than I do at the moment. Not by much, but still. The thought that two people weigh less than I do together made me want to throw up. And then yesterday we picked up my wedding set that was resized because I was tired of not wearing my rings. When I went to put them on, they fit, but they still were tight. It felt like punch after punch. I felt sadness and depression looming nearby.

That night after the baby went to sleep, I wanted to relax in the bath. As Tyler got ready for bed he happened to be in there as I undressed. Complete shame filled me and I just wanted to hide. I got in the tub hoping he would just hurry and leave the room. He came by and kneeled by the tub to kiss me goodnight and as our eyes met he asked those words, “What’s wrong?”

Now if you know me, I can hold my tears back as long as you don’t acknowledge me. But as soon as you ask me to talk about what’s wrong, they will flow like Niagara Falls! I start bawling and say something along the lines of, “I hate myself. I hate my body.” Knowing he needed to get up in about 5 hours for work, he still sat down by the tub and held my head in his arms. He kissed my head, my arm, my tear rolling down my cheek, and said, “I love every part of you.” “But I don’t, I hate every part of myself.” “He prayed over me and told me I needed to get alone with God and listen.

As he went to bed, I sat in the tub and decided to listen. “God, I don’t like feeling like this… I’m so tired of hating myself.” “Your worth is much more than what is physical. There are some who would trade a “perfect body” for your stretch marks and weight gain. Those who want a baby so bad, they would immediately take a body they do not “love”. Be grateful for the scars, the jiggly bits, and your womb.”

This hit me hard. It’s not fair to whine about my body. Yes, I have a thyroid problem that makes losing weight extremely hard (if not impossible). Yes, I don’t like my reflection and it feels like whatever I do doesn’t work or help. But, I hold a baby boy everyday who is healthy and happy. This is the body that carried him. This is the body that my husband loves. This is the body that carries me throughout this life, making memories and taking me on adventures. I am so tired of being my own worst enemy. I am so tired of being mean and hateful to the person that God loves. I would never in my life allow someone to talk like this about themselves, but I allow the abuse to myself.

Ladies, I still struggle with my body. But I am choosing to work hard in the ways I can by being healthy, and letting God do the rest. I am choosing to learn to love myself in this season without hating my reflection or pictures of myself. I am so tired of seeing my husband’s smile go away when he shows me a picture he took of me and the baby and all I can do is criticize my image. He saw a memory, the woman he loves and the baby we made, and all I saw was myself.

Hating yourself is selfishness. It’s always thinking about yourself and not of others. It’s okay to work on yourself and be healthy, but when it surrounds your life in a way that your self takes priority over other’s, it’s not godly nor healthy. So if you had a baby and your body bounced right back, I am thankful for you! I am so glad that your body is healthy and you now have a healthy body. If you are struggling with your postpartum body like me, I am with you, but let’s be thankful for the gift of life and the amazing work God created our bodies to do. And if you’re struggling to even have that precious baby you dream of, I am sorry if I have ever hurt you with my criticism and thoughtlessness. I am praying for you and that God would answer every desire of your heart.

Let’s stop letting the enemy win. Let’s stop allowing him to steal the joy of this season. Let’s stop allowing him to take away the praise we should be giving, and replacing it with complaining. Speak well about yourself, for you are a daughter of the Most High! He doesn’t like you talking so badly about the one He loves. Your spouse doesn’t like hearing you talk about the one he loves so much. Your child doesn’t need to hear you talk about their mama, teaching them it’s okay to talk so badly about yourself.

So, I encourage you to take some time to be friends with yourself. Give your worries, pains, and shame to God and enjoy every moment of this time of your life. Happy homemaking and good luck!