The Ashes

Part 3 of our backstory.  Read Part 1 here.  Part 2 here.

“Answer me when I call to you,

    my righteous God.
Give me relief from my distress;
    have mercy on me and hear my prayer.

Psalm 4:1

2011 was a tumultuous year for our family as a whole.  You name it, it happened.  Sickness, surgeries, feuding, estrangement.  The whole gamut.  To say it was an emotional year is an understatement.

The first few months (a.k.a. the beginning of 2011) after we took permanent steps to prevent any more pregnancies were months of joy and relief.  I cannot put into words how safe I felt knowing that I couldn’t harm a baby anymore.  I don’t think there’s a way to convey the worry and the subsequent relief with words.  The feelings we so far beyond relief that nothing had happened.  I was overflowing with joy knowing that nothing could happen. No baby would be hurt on my watch.

Life went on.  We continued to watch my physical progress with awe and thanksgiving.  Dr. Chi had told me in December that I would plateau there and would not improve past where I was then.  It is to the praise of the Lord that I continued to heal.  Boyd and I were consistently amazed at how much I was healing.

As I continued to heal leaps and bounds beyond that December appointment, a sense of normalcy started to set it.  Life had, with the exception of the coumadin prescription & the compression stocking, returned to just like it was before “the incident.”  {And no, this wasn’t a flash-sideways.}  😉  I was so happy to be doing so well, to be as close to how I used to be as possible.  Dr. Chi’s words became distant & cloudier.  It was during that period of returning to normal that the doubt started to set it.  Doubt was quickly followed by guilt, and guilt was quickly followed by depression.

{FYI what I’m about to confess is not pretty.  But it’s real.  And it’s more important to me to be honest that to pretend I have my whole act together.}

It was the summer of 2011 that I first hit rock-bottom.  I started to question everything.  I was only 6 months removed from my last meeting with Dr. Chi, but it felt like a lifetime.  I started to wonder, Did we make a mistake?  Did we not have enough faith?  Was there any way to reverse the irreversible?  Oh Lord, what have we done?

The ache to have another child grew so strong I thought it would consume me.  I started mentally excusing away every caution Dr. Chi provided.  I told myself it wouldn’t have been a risk at all.  I told myself our decision was selfish.  I told myself what did my health matter when the potential reward was a child.  And with every negative thought I heaped condemnation deeper and deeper onto my own head.  I knew I should be counteracting the thoughts with Scripture, committing them to prayer, but I didn’t.  I found myself slipping into a depression.

The “what if” game became my constant companion.  What if I’d never gone to work?  What if we’d trusted God enough to supply everything we needed so I didn’t need a job, and thus wouldn’t have felt so overwhelmed?  What if I’d just had enough faith to trust the Lord for the size of our family (like so many of my friends had) in spite of our circumstances?  I felt chained down, like I was sinking.  All I could think was selfish, selfish, selfish – how unbelievably selfish I was to think that I couldn’t have handled (with God’s help) a full-time job & 2 kids at the same time.  Talk about being defeated.  I didn’t just walk in defeat.  I dove headfirst into it.

The depression spiraled.  I became very good at “faking.”  I chose to talk about victories rather than the valleys, and kept the private pain deep inside.  At some point in August I overheard Boyd make a comment to someone that he had at one time wanted 4 children (which I, of course, already knew).  I felt like I had ruined his life.  I even questioned whether I was good enough to remain his wife.  I thought about all those times during the early years when I had been so overwhelmed with working and keeping SC during the day that I couldn’t even comprehend the thought of having another child.  I thought of all those years I’d thrown away, and now they were gone, never to be seen again.  Was God punishing me?  Was this sentence of future barrenness a reward for my adamantly refusing to try to have a baby during that time?  Was I truly reaping what I had sown?

I feel like I need to disclose that Boyd in no way did anything to encourage these thoughts.  On the contrary, he was nothing but supportive and encouraging and loving beyond anything I could even imagine.  From the moment we finalized the decision to not have any more children, he looked on our family of three with radiant joy.  Even later when I asked him if he had any regrets, he responded with an adamant NO.  I am so blessed to have such a wonderful, godly husband!

What’s even worse about this whole thing is that I didn’t even turn to the Lord for help.  And perhaps had I done so, let Him work on my heart, the emotional depression wouldn’t have been so terrible.  But with the depression, it was almost like I needed it to be some sort of penance.  I walked in defeat because that’s what I felt like I deserved.  It was right where the devil wanted me – isolated, depressed, and totally focused on myself and my failings.

While that may have been what I felt, nothing could be further from the gospel.  The Lord began working on my stubborn, self-loving, ugly heart in wonderful, transforming ways.    The brokenhearted was being bound up.

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One thought on “The Ashes

  1. Pingback: The Beauty « Growing because of His Grace

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