About 20 months ago I was in a “dark place”– in my baby girl’s “Dream BIG” elephant themed nursery with the lights off, curtains pulled. Tears streaming down my face.
Ironic. Because my own personal “BIG Dreams” were all being lived out but I was left feeling so empty, so small. I was the mother of 2 healthy children, with my newest addition in my arms, had a super supportive husband who loved our family well, living in our dream home, with every material need met.
But I was not happy or fulfilled. And I was SO MAD AT MYSELF. ‘Why am I so lucky, yet feeling so lost?’
I made up excuses. Our baby was colicky, so was our first 2 years ago. ‘No one understands how hard it is.’ SO MUCH CRYING. I felt inadequate as a mother…a role I always felt I’d be so great at. I isolated myself because going out in public with my 2 usually led to me just trying to make it back to the car before bursting into tears of frustration and sadness. I felt like no one else could handle their crying and feared getting babysitters so we were not getting out much. I didn’t even like having people over because I usually greeted them with screaming and said farewell with more.
In my mind I was failing. I was supposed to be good at this. I LOVE kids and I am definitely a baby person. I worked in daycares, babysat, ran summer camps for young kids, was a “Big Sister” with Big Brothers Big Sisters, went on mission trips to orphanages, worked with sick babies and kids at the hospital… I was always “a kid magnet”. But why could I not “handle” my own?!
DEFEATED. That is the best word I can use to describe it.
But you know where excuses and self-pity lead you? NOWHERE GOOD. Trust me. I had to realize that NO ONE has a life free of trouble & that trials are actually for my good.
James 1:2-4 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
OK so…colicky babies and super stubborn, irritable, high-needs toddlers= PURE JOY. 🙂
So how did I keep from eventually being swallowed whole into the pit of darkness, self-pity, and excuses? How started with ONE friend. And I say this to emphasize the importance of being a friend. You may not know how you’re changing someone’s life with simple gestures, but God works through each of us, creating little divine appointments along the way. God sent me Stacey to get out of my funk.
She was someone I had met through our church who reached out with encouragement & later invited me to a women’s bible study (the first I had ever done). That study and the 3 studies I am about to recommend saved my life. They restored my sanity by finding fulfillment in Him, The One who created me and knows every tear, every trial, AND has a purpose for them. These women’s bible studies transformed my entire perspective on life and freed me from the chains of insecurity, doubt, and fear holding me back from all God had waiting for me.
I am glad I went through that hard season because my life is so different now, just 20 short months later. God definitely used our “trials” to produce perseverance, to build character and foster hope, and to teach us LOTS of coping mechanisms. We learned so much that will help our family in this journey of Foster Care- a journey that I would not have even begun in the first place had it not been for these Bible Studies (read more about that here: The Crazy Story of How God Called Us to Fostering: Risk or Paralysis ?). It’s amazing to look back and see all that God has done in our lives in just 20 months or so. All it took was seeking, knocking, asking, and saying YES in surrendered obedience to His will.
I still have days where I struggle, as we all do, but I now have tools to cope and the freedom of KNOWING that God is in control and that He will provide.
Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”
For anyone struggling right now: I pray that you find His peace in your life & that you will feel renewed and re-energized to truly live life, a life full of meaning and purpose.
Women- check out the books below. Pick one and try it out. I promise you will not regret it & the time you spend working through the books will be way more beneficial to you than any time spent scrolling through a Newsfeed or checking off a cleaning to-do list (note to self here too!). Enjoy & don’t feel guilty taking time to better your soul!
Without further Ado- MY TOP 3 (with links to order & a short synopsis review):
• The Armor of God, by Priscilla Shirer (1)
-“Everything that occurs in the visible, physical world is directly connected to the wrestling match being waged in the invisible, spiritual world.” (Priscilla Shirer) This study identifies and illuminates the work of the enemy in your own life and provides tools, an action plan, to keep him from his goal of destroying you.
-“We’ve become a culture relatively unaware of the enemy’s presence, unaware of his conspiracies to destroy our lives, unaware that he’s distracting us from reaching our destinies.” (Priscilla Shirer) Do you believe Satan is working on you? Do you struggle with pride, insecurity, perfectionism, comparison, anger, worry, or confusion? Is your life full of emotional instability, mental or physical fatigue…exhaustion? Strained and damaged relationships? The stress of feeling rushed and pressured to keep up with today’s societal expectations? If so, look to this bible study to find peace.
• What Happens When Women Say Yes To God: Experiencing Life in Extraordinary Ways, by Lysa TerKeurst (2)
This one literally changed my life. I felt like she was talking directly to me. “God is using all of your experiences, both good and bad, to develop your character to match your calling” and “…you never know how God will use you until you let Him” (Lysa TerKeurst). She talks about radical obedience and surrendering your life to His plans for you, after all He created you (makes sense to trust Him, right?). She promises, “When a woman says yes to God, she discovers a thrilling way to live” (Lysa TerKeurst). Do you desire a more thrilling way to live your life? Do you feel like you were meant/designed for more?
• Discerning The Voice of God: How To Recognize When God Speaks, by Priscilla Shirer (3)
“The human spirit was designed for relationship with God. If not divinely connected to Him in this way, we’re left with a vacuum that can never be properly or completely filled” (Priscilla Shirer). In this book, Priscilla teaches us how to explore a more intimate relationship with God by communicating with Him, recognizing when He is speaking to you, and discerning His guidance and will for your life. She also helps us to grow in obedience, humility, and total surrender. She asks us to consider our priorities: “Most of us feel we don’t have enough time to meditate on God’s Word, but- let’s be honest. We have time for anything we make time for. It all comes down to priorities” (Priscilla Shirer). Where is talking to your Creator on your “To-Do List” (something I have to constantly ask myself)?
Feel free to comment below on which one you choose and we can hold each other accountable : )