I never thought that at the age of 32, I’d feel like a failure. When I got married, I thought my husband and I would live happily every after, changing the world side by side, and being a beacon of hope to our family and friends of what marriage can be if two people are really committed to each other and to God. In recent years though, that picture really started to unravel. I saw myself slowly going in a downward spiral. Then I had a breakdown that jolted me awake and made me realize I need to get into the driver’s seat and take control of my life! I’d gone into a dark place that I never want to be in again, ever.
I can’t say that my responsibilities as a wife, mom, and teacher are what broke me. What I can say is that the strain of bearing those responsibilities exposed my brokenness. I realize that now. That’s what life does; it shows you what you’re really made of.
I had no idea how drastically my life would change when I became a mom. Giving birth to another human being literally rewires your brain. As a mom, my priorities shifted. I was now responsible for the survival of a person other than myself. And now, as my kids are getting older, I’m now responsible for not just the survival of 2 human beings, but making sure that they turn out to be decent, moral people who live a successful, healthy life.
Taking care of my kids, keeping up with things at work, and making sure the house doesn’t look like a war zone all the time is tiring, to say the least. And I started neglecting myself. It was so easy to shove myself to the backburner. By the time I put my kids down for the night, I’m done for the day. My body refuses to go any further. Sure, I could force myself to work out or make a smoothie, but sleep or watching Netflix wins every time. At the end of every day I yearned to shut my brain off.
So I did.
The problem with that was, I wasn’t getting the rejuvenation I needed. I wasn’t blowing off any steam. And you know what happens when steam gets bottled up, right?
The pressure in the bottle builds up to the point where the bottle cracks and breaks. And that’s exactly what happened to me.
I was constantly feeing ashamed and guilty for not measuring up to the standard I’d set up for myself. I’d wake up on Sunday mornings and make a to-do list with 10 things on it, and as the day wore on, my anxiety would build as I realized that certain things on that list wouldn’t get done. Then I’d spend the rest of the week trying to catch up on what I missed, but most of the time my body wouldn’t cooperate with me past 8pm.
I’d wake up the next morning and do it all over again. And again. And again.
It wasn’t sustainable. I was running on fumes most of the time. I can’t remember the last time I actually took time to read my Bible and actually drew comfort from it. I kind of shoved God to the backburner too. I thought I had to do this myself. Other times, I was afraid of the changes He might tell me to make. So I ignored His voice and plowed forward as best as I could, until I couldn’t anymore.
I was constantly battling myself in my mind. On one hand, I’d feel so ashamed and overwhelmed by the fact that the house wasn’t as organized, or that the meals weren’t eating weren’t as healthy as I wanted to be, or that I wasn’t cooking as often I had said I would.
All of my shortcomings, everything I wasn’t doing right, would constantly come up in my mind, and I’d beat myself up over it.
Then one day I got tired. Of everything. I remember driving home and handing off the kids to my husband. I crawled into bed feeling numb. I called in sick the next day and stayed home, feeling like I would never smile again. I had reached the end of my rope and I physically just couldn’t do it anymore. I didn’t have the will to go on, and it scared me.
I asked a friend to recommend me to a therapist, and I ended up finding a wonderful one.
Now I can honestly say that I’m in a better place emotionally, but this whole experience showed me some very important lessons.
1. Some time with God is better than no time with God. I kept expecting to have a whole hour to dedicate to prayer in the morning, and if it couldn’t happen, I’d skip that time altogether. But now I realize that even 5 minutes reading a verse and talking to God makes a big difference in my day. That time with God first thing in the morning centers my thoughts on Him. He re-orients my thoughts and emotions and puts everything into its proper perspective. When I spend time soaking in His Spirit, there’s no room for depression, fear, anxiety, and worry to crowd my mind. I know that even when I don’t get everything done, He’s got everything under control way better than I do.
2. We’re not meant to struggle alone. God made us social beings. We’re created to engage in relationships. It’s so important to have a circle of friends you can talk to, cry with, and pray with. You NEED to surround yourself with people who can encourage you when you’re down and haven’t yet gathered the courage to seek God for yourself. I’m making it my goal this year to create a circle of women that meets regularly just for this purpose.. My experience showed me that it’s dangerous to get stuck in your own head for too long because the downward spiral of your thoughts is harder to stop if you have no outside encouragement.
3. It’s okay to not be okay. I got so caught up trying to prove to God and myself that I could be this superwoman, that I hid my struggle from people. I guess I just didn’t want people to feel like I was a fraud. But I’m realizing now that being yourself is actually the BEST way to gain people’s respect and trust, because they know that what they see is what they’re actually getting. Writing this blog post is my way of letting you guys know that this is who I am, and this is what I go through. Even if you’re not going through the exact same thing, at least you know there’s one other person out there who’s not afraid to admit that they don’t have it all together.
4. It will all be okay, I promise! Listen, God has your back. Even when you back yourself into crazy situations, He’s STILL going to find ways to get through to you and bring you back home, into His arms. No matter how far you stray, His love will bring you back…if you DECIDE to let it.
Until next time!
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