Redeeming Motherhood is a series of posts where women open up about some of the struggles they've faced as mothers and how the Lord has redeemed those situations and brought beauty from them. Check out all the posts in the Redeeming Motherhood series here. (And if you want to share your own story of hope and healing, please check out the bottom of the post for instructions!)
Many thanks to Elizabeth of E, Myself, and I for sharing her insights in today's Q&A! Someone recommended her blog to me when I was pregnant and I've been an avid reader ever since. Especially when I combed through her archives and found out that her son (now two years old!) wasn't the easiest baby either. Hearing her experience helped me breathe a sigh of relief during that time when everything with Claire was so, so hard. And so here she is, sharing more about the struggle of comparing our child to other children.
Describe one of the hardships you’ve faced as a mother. What made this time so difficult?
Instead of enjoying little milestones (like his first steps, etc.), I made lists of things he did and didn't do. I checked off "warning signs" and called the pediatrician regularly. Even things that were meant to be "fun" like play dates and our weekly music classes became opportunities for me to obsess over the ways Sam was "behind" or "different" from his peers.
What were some of the emotions you were feeling during this time?
It honestly all feels a little silly and dramatic to me now (it has been more than a year and Sam seems to have "caught up" in pretty much every area since then); but, at the time, I was SO afraid. I worried ALL the time and carried around a heavy load of anxiety and stress. In some ways, I was totally consumed by my fears that something was "wrong." I could.not. let go and focus on all the wonderful, perfect things about Sam. Everything felt like a test.
As they tend to do, my old insecurities of not being "good enough" snuck back into my heart and mind. This time, they reminded me of the medicines I took when I was pregnant and the the emergency c-section I had, they whispered to me that I didn't spend enough time reading to him, or praying for him, and, somehow, they convinced me that if I had just done this or not done this, things might be different now.
I was ashamed that I didn't think my son was "perfect," and that I wasn't enjoying this season of his life. I felt alone; and, if I'm really being truthful, I felt like God was playing a game with me - like He didn't take my worries and fears seriously; and, almost, as if He was enjoying watching the control-freak in me squirm a little.
On the outside, I told myself (and others) that God was in charge; but, on the inside, it was still all about ME. I found little bits of hope in telling myself that I could handle whatever came my way; but, I wasn't willing to completely let go and give my worries over to God.
How did the Lord speak to you during this time? How did he bring redemption or healing to you?
For whatever reason, this whole period of worry and fear came to a peak over a three day period in September. I really don't remember now what triggered this ultimate "breakdown" for me; but, I spent two FULL days in a dark place. I cried and cried out to God for help and strength. Finally, I was beginning to realize that I was NOT strong enough to deal with the unknown on my own.
At the end of the second day, I took a walk with Sam in the stroller and talked to one of my best friends on the phone for a long time. She is a pediatric physician's assistant, so my initial call to her was mostly to talk "medical" and get her "professional opinion" on whether or not my fears seemed legitimate. She listened patiently to me as I cried and read off my laundry list of worries, and then she said... "Elizabeth, I think God just wants you to surrender. He has brought you to this crossroads where you have to choose to trust Him even when you don't know the outcome. The outcome doesn't matter."
Up until that point, my prayers (however desperate they were) to the Lord had been to make Sam OK. To make whatever my fears were unfounded. But something clicked in that conversation, and I began to give up a little bit. I knew that my prayer couldn't be "I trust that You can fix this;" but, "I trust that You are bigger than this. That You are still good no matter what."
Is there a Bible verse that you think speaks poignantly to this experience? It can be one you clung to during that time or that, looking back, seems particularly fitting.
The next morning, which was the third day, I decided to turn to the Word (which I hadn't done in a while). I had the YouVersion app on my iPhone, so I just opened that and went to the spot where I had left off several weeks (months maybe?) before. I was in Hosea, which I remember thinking was a very weird place to start, but I went with it. This was the first verse I read...
“He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us; that we may live in his presence.” (Hosea 6:1&2)
Again, in the grand scheme of life, my worries were NOT that big of a deal. But, God used even them to heal and redeem me. Through this experience, He reminded me once again what it means to live in His PRESENCE - not just vaguely aware that He is there - and to trust Him with all the unknowns of my life.Sam didn't start talking for almost another ten months; but, my worry stopped that day. It wasn't that the same "signs" didn't exist; but, I didn't care anymore. At least in this one area of my life, I had finally learned to surrender and trust that God was in control regardless of the circumstances or the outcome, and I didn't have to be.
ABOUT THE WRITER: Elizabeth is wife to her high school sweetheart Jeff, momma to two-year-old Sam, and English teacher to 75 ninth, tenth, and eleventh graders. In her "free time" she moonlights as a blogger at E, Myself, and I where she chronicles her journey into adulthood and her attempts at salvaging a tiny bit of her former “Type A” self. She writes about being a working mom, teaching, organizing, decorating, party planning, and The Bachelor, and she’s not afraid to laugh at herself when necessary. Elizabeth is passionate about connecting women and helping them find freedom in living their real lives with honesty, humor, and a strong cup of coffee.
If you are interested in contributing to the Redeeming Motherhood series, contact me with your responses to the questions in this post. Include a short bio and a photograph, if you like. It's not necessary to have your own blog, just a heart and a story to share!