Friday, October 2, 2015

31 Days of Brave: Day 2 - a little bit of backstory

This has been a really hard post for me to hit the publish button on. I have wanted to hide behind generalizations, and gloss over what a tough year 2014 was for me but I think it is helpful to know that we all have hard years - that things accumulate sometimes and snowball into something that feels unbearable - but it is also really redemptive to look back and also see the faithfulness of God in the middle of my darkness...

I don't know if you have ever begun a year thinking I don't know how I'm going to get through this year. That is how this year began for me - for the second year in a row.

To place my year of brave in context I need to back up a little bit and tell you about the year I thought I would not survive.

I wrote a lot of our family's backstory in my last 31 Days series called Confessions of a Road Kill Christian. If you only read one post from that series I'd say read this one. In the other posts I share a lot about what happened before and after this moment but that post is the big turning point in our family's life and explains some of the context for the dynamics of our family.

At the end of 2013 I felt totally derailed. Here is an excerpt from a blog post I wrote in January of 2014.

If I could pick one word for last month it would be this: derailed. For a lot of reasons that have all kind of snowballed. November was such a good month for me, I was feeling like everything had finally clicked into place and I was moving forward consistently and intentional and then bam. Here I am again. A puddle at the bottom of the hill. I don't know if it's depression, hormones or emotional exhaustion or what but it is a struggle at the moment to move forward because I feel like I've lost my sense of direction and emotional energy. So it's just one day at a time, here in the gloom and the cold.

It had begun with a major fight with my husband. One of those moments that makes you sit back and say whoa where did that come from?  I got out my journal this morning and I find words like "devastated" "destroyed" "afraid" "derailed" 2014 began with an offer to move that I really struggled with and that catapulted our family into a tough season of transition only to have the whole thing fall apart.

In July a book came out that was a big emotional hurdle for us. We had both participated in the initial survey, the author reached out to us asking us to share some more of our story and some follow-up questions. I wrote long epistolary emails to the author sharing my point of view, sharing my hope for our marriage with the desire that my words would bring hope to others who find themselves in an inter-faith marriage. Daniel also wrote to the author but we didn't share our emails. When the book came out we both felt like we were re-living the hurt of the first few years after Daniel's de-conversion. While the book was really good reading what Daniel wrote for the first time hurt. It hurt to read about his hopelessness for our marriage.

On my birthday, in August we had another huge fight, one that started with "by the way there is a family worship night at church mid-week that I want to take the kids to" and ended with Daniel saying something like "I just don't know how our marriage is going to survive once the kids grow up" to say that it was hard to speak up after that is an understatement. I felt completely torn - wanting to be at church yet not wanting to re-live this moment with Daniel. This happened over and over for the rest of the year as I struggled to balance church and my inter-faith family. Every time there was anything other than my usual Sunday morning church attendance there was a conflict - sometimes small, sometimes big but Daniel's disapproval of my church and my involvement there felt always-present.

I struggled with some anorexia and a severe episode of depression over the summer and fall of 2014 - I didn't even remember how bad it was until I started flipping back through my journal for that year and I see words like "here is the truth: I'm not eating" "I feel like I'm just falling back into the stream and current and I'm pulled along by it, with no choice" "I started my yoga practice and just laid there in child's pose and wept because there is so much crap in my heart right now and I just want to love openly and freely and instead I'm hurt and closed and afraid." "I feel like this year will either make or break our marriage but I have felt like I am tearing apart my marriage with my own hands. Like fear is all I could feel."

Looking back through my journals for that year I can also see God reminding me of His truth:

 "I am always on time

"I have never left you. No matter how much you could not feel me or how far away from you felt I  have been here for every breath. I am everywhere present and all knowing. I have felt every minute with you and seen every tear, every moment you thought you couldn't go on. I have always been with you."

In November I started a coffee fast. It was the second time I've done one here is a blog post I wrote the first time around. Around this same time Daniel and I had pretty much the worst month for our marriage, maybe ever. I felt terrified. I felt like we had hit a wall that we could not get past. I felt like I had walked face-first into my own personal Jericho wall. This is what I wrote about this season:

I believe when we get to a Jericho moment, when there is no clear next step and it seems like there is nothing you can do - that is the moment you step back to see what God is going to do. 

My prayer during that month was that God would be a rock under my feet and give me perspective to see the spiritual struggle behind the relational turmoil. I cried out to God saying "God I feel storm-tossed, like I'm in the middle of a hurricane!" and God showed me a picture, that while this storm was raging he made me like a lighthouse. In the middle of the storm raging and the waves crashing He was the rock under my feet and my strong tower, standing firm. I cried out to God during this season saying "God I feel like I'm just dangling by a thread" and God reminded me "Yes, you may be down to one last thread but that thread is me and I will never let you go." I wrote about this moment here.

One of the high points of 2014 was that I started writing again. Scribbling in cheap notebooks, writing stories, outlining blog post series. I felt like I was coming back around. I wrote this blog post called dream small that encapsulates what was going on in my heart near the end of the year. I also wrote I'm okay with the questions and what's next... I wrote the blog series Confessions of a Road Kill Christian and while it didn't turn out to be a masterpiece it was good practice. I connected with other writers, I was able to think of myself as a writer, I was starting to look forward to the next year of writing trying to find direction.

I didn't know yet what God did, that according to the measurements on my ultrasound, during late November I became pregnant. While we were walking through one of the worst seasons in our marriage we had this unexpected blessing and my journey in learning to be brave was about to begin.

back to the beginning
continue reading... where feet may fail

One of the things that got me through this hard year was the worship at my church. I was listening to this song as I wrote todays post and it feels like the perfect song to end this post. I have sung this song at church so many mornings with faith rising and tears streaming down my face.

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