The other day, in tears, I was telling Andrew how the five years leading up to Jack’s arrival felt like a chaotic, frustrating blur. I’d like to think that I was always strong, reliant on God, and humble enough to offer up my desires to God’s better plans. Even though I had my moments, my mind often goes to the time spent silently crying on the bathroom floor, the overwhelming sense of loneliness, and the daily anxiety of pursuing a magical remedy to fix my health & hormones. From a variety of diets to working with a personal trainer for over a year to regular doctor appointments to new medications/supplements to working through an intensive PCOS program, I did it all and my life was consumed by it. I hate that FIVE years of my life were spent researching, sweating, measuring, weighing, testing, experimenting, and—in my mind—failing.
I’ve always preached that God uses even the hardest parts of our lives to show His glory & to stretch us so that we can become more like Him, so nothing is in vain. That is TRUTH, I’m not rescinding. But if I’m being brutally honest, even now, I struggle to be thankful for those five years. Not necessarily because of what happened to us. No, I struggle because I wish I would’ve done things differently. Been a little less consumed, a little less sad. I’m angry thinking of the friendships that suffered, the shame I so often felt, and the goals I could’ve pursued if my life wasn’t consumed by workouts, diets, feeling too stressed, and even more unworthy. Isn’t that the thing with the past? Dwelling on the mistakes that were and wishing I would’ve somehow known what I know now.
The thing is, we’re human. We don’t know the future, we make mistakes, and we struggle. Even though I wish I had more to show for those five years than failed experiments & frustrations, I’ve been realizing that God can still use those years in spite of myself. In fact, I’m still learning from that experience and I’d like to share that with you.
IT’S OK TO STRUGGLE
So often I equate struggle with failure. I’ve always had perfectionistic tendencies. Sometimes that really works to my advantage while other times it causes a large rift in my self-worth. I’ve felt so much shame for gaining weight, for being unable to have a baby, for not being able to find a solution. This was largely out of my control, yes. Yet so often my heart doesn’t think logically and prefers to instead attack & analyze until I feel utterly worthless & incompetent. Then other times, when I actually am responsible for a poor decision—holy cow, look out for the freight train of shame coming through. But here’s the thing, God doesn’t need you to be perfect. In fact, His glory is all the more visible in our imperfections. Perfection is impossible. And that’s not a bad thing. Most days my heart struggles with that. I want to be perfect—BAD. But sometimes I get my perspective right and it is the most glorious feeling to unburden yourself of the pressure to be perfect. To instead fall back into God’s grace, admitting that we don’t have it all together and we NEED God. So I’m thankful (sometimes unwillingly) for struggles because it brings my focus back to Christ & my dependency on Him.
USE WHAT WAS TO DETERMINE WHAT WILL BE
I have a way of getting hung up on my mistakes, see perfectionistic tendencies above. I punish myself & analyze the situation from every perspective. But that habit doesn’t propel me into a better future, it keeps me wallowing in the past. Instead of wallowing, as fun as that is, I’m trying to retrain my mind to see a mistake and learn from it. As I said before, we’re incapable of perfection. Mistakes ARE going to be made. Stupid decisions WILL be made. So instead of being surprised by our stupidity…look that mistake head on, make amends where necessary, and learn from it so that when something similar arises in the future, we’ll know to do it differently.
TAKE A VACATION FROM YOUR PROBLEMS
Never thought I’d take serious advice from “What About Bob?” but here we are. This particular issue just eats me up and I’m determined to not let it happen again, or at least in the long-term. It is SO EASY to become consumed by the pressures, issues & stresses surrounding our lives. It can become the central focus because, personally, I like to check things off my list so I can be at ease. And if a problem still exists, well then, it’s still on my list. In those five years, I spent so much time staring down my problems, doing everything I could to make them go away. The thing is, not all problems will be quick fixes or can even resolved by you. Before you know it—days…months…years have flown by and you wonder what became of the time. Those years were the first five of my marriage—newlyweds, just the two of us. And I’ll never get them back. As I reflect on the past, I know I don’t want another 5…10…20 years to pass by where I’ll feel the same way. Be diligent about fixing things, being healthier, becoming better…yes! But take time to vacation more, snuggle more, laugh more. Live the kind of life you’ll want to remember ten years from now.
NO MATTER HOW HARD WE TRY, GOD HAS THE FINAL SAY
This is one thing I know with all certainty. Years of work-outs and diets and medications and supplements were all for naught, in the sense that I didn’t achieve my goal of ditching ovarian cysts, losing weight, or ovulate. Then completely out of the blue, at a time that I was offering up mediocre efforts at best, the pregnancy test went positive for the first time. Not only that, but the pregnancy was relatively normal and a healthy, baby boy popped out after 41 weeks. For all of my efforts, it was God’s hand in my life that ultimately determined the outcome. That might seem like a sad fact—all of our efforts “in vain.” But truthfully, it’s encouraging to me. Encouraging that God can make the seemingly impossible happen and it’s out of my control. I was told by my doctors that I would never be able to conceive without help—even then, it was doubtful. Yet here we are, naturally conceived & so in love with our little, Jack Wyatt. I have no doubt that God did that. And I’m thankful I can see that so clearly as a result of those years.
I’m a long way off from naturally choosing a higher perspective & forgiving myself. It all feels rather foreign to me, most days. Some days I actually prefer to wallow. But I’m thankful for God’s grace in our lives, thankful that He has wiped the slate clean, and thankful that He continues to work on me, when most would just give up. Cling to Him. Soak up His grace. And set your eyes on what lies before you. Regardless of what happens in the here & now, far better days are ahead.❤️