Sometimes being a mama is hard. Sometimes being a human is hard. Loving you is the easy part. But there are days when I want to crawl under the covers and never come out again. Motherhood, in many ways, is synonymous with fear. The responsibility of creating and growing and raising a child is as wonderful as it is frightening, and the heavy weight of these two opposing forces can sometimes take a rather large toll on the psyche.
When I found out I was pregnant, I was struggling through the worst depression of my life. I had gotten off birth control six months earlier, just before your Daddy and I bought our first house. And just before I got laid off from my job. We didn’t know I would lose my job and we didn’t know that on January 7, 2013, a little over a month before I saw two pink lines on a pregnancy test, I would be sitting in our home office, working, before being hit by an anxiety attack that yanked the breath from my lungs. It would take me months to recover. It’s been a little over three years since that day and still I struggle with how it made me feel. How it made me question myself.
Anxiety is good at that, making people question themselves. Satan is good at it, too. He's responsible for it! It’s his masterpiece, our pain, and he’ll keep coming back for me — and you — as long as our hearts are pumping blood through our bodies. This is his world and we’re just living in it.
But guess what? The story doesn’t end there.
Jesus shared His glorious wisdom with His followers during His time here on earth. And my favorite thing He said is found in John 16:33:
“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
*Jesus drops mic*
Whenever I read that verse, I just picture Jesus taking a long pause after that first sentence, letting the truth of His words settle in. “You will have trouble,” He says. It’s a guarantee. Don’t get caught up in trying to avoid all the bad because, if you do that, you’ll also avoid the good. The beautiful, redemptive, heart-gripping good that can only come from having known what isn’t. From the familiarity with sorrow that allows us to taste more fully the sweetness of joy.
And after Jesus gave His disciples the bad news, He gave them this gift: “But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
What a promise! We don’t have to wait for someone to save us, Lucy. Jesus already has. The devil can do whatever he wants, and he usually does. But it makes no matter. Even though this world is “technically” his domain, our Savior is sovereign over all of it. The battle has already been won. And we have the opportunity to live in the victory.
I hope that’s what you choose, baby girl. It won’t be easy. In fact, I’m all too familiar with just how not easy it is. But don’t be afraid. You have everything you need to walk through the fire and emerge on the other side brighter and stronger and braver than before. That’s what fire does: it refines. It shapes. It strengthens.
It makes all things new.
How do I know? Because right now, as I’m writing this letter, I’m living it.
There was a time, sweet girl, when I couldn’t bear to be alone with you. I was terrified because of the anxiety I mentioned before. The medical terminology for what I have is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, more commonly known as OCD. This phrase usually gets thrown around in casual conversation when people think that wanting to have an organized house makes them OCD. It does not. Literally having to keep your house clean every second of the day for fear that germs will invade your body and develop into terminal cancer is OCD. Intrusive thoughts that attack otherwise peaceful moments with your daughter, leaving you frightened that you’ll harm the one person you love the most, is OCD. Running out of the house in order to avoid being alone with your daughter because you actually start to believe you’re capable of such horrific actions is OCD. And those last two? That was me. Actually, if I really care to be honest, it still is me.
But what a difference a few years makes, Lucy Jane. What a difference therapy makes. What a difference Jesus makes.
I walked through the fire, love. And now I can sit here, on my couch, writing by the glow of our Christmas tree while you nap in the next room. We are alone, together, and I am good. We’ve been alone, together, for five hours so far today, and I am good.
Every once in awhile, when my mind is idle, satan will try to throw an ugly thought my way, and it never stops being painful. It never stops hurting. But it doesn’t make me run anymore. It doesn’t make me hide. It makes me pull you close and look into your ocean-deep blue eyes and revel in the truth that God, our God, believes me worthy of being your mother. And if I know anything, it’s that what God says goes. What God says is Truth with a capital “T”. Satan is the father of lies. His purpose is to steal, kill, and destroy. So when my thoughts don’t match up with love, I know they aren’t mine. I was made in the image of God and He doesn’t think those kinds of thoughts.
In short, I’ve learned that if I tell those thoughts I don’t believe their lies, they quickly transform into nagging little whispers that eventually disappear altogether. Oh, they try to come back, sure, but I know how they work now. I know their game. And because of Jesus, I can beat them. Because Jesus, I’ve already beat them.
It’s no fun having OCD. It’s no fun at all, and I’ve definitely wished at times that God would have allowed me to be refined through other, somehow less painful, fires. But we all have to walk through the flames, Lucy. It makes us yelp and cry and turn in circles searching for a way out. But the fire will not last. We have God’s Word on that.
And, as I said before, what God says goes.