10 years, 364 days.
My Molly is turning 11 tomorrow.
This morning I sipped my coffee and thought back to that night at the hospital--not knowing that she was going to take her sweet time and wait to arrive the next afternoon. It's been eleven years since I realized that I was so very human and that life was so very, very fragile. Her birth brought incredible joy. I had no clue the love that comes with the birth of a baby. Everything I did revolved around making sure she was comfortable. I marveled at the way her chin and mouth moved like her daddy's. I liked the way her smile took up her whole face. She was a happy and relatively easy baby (aside from the face that she only slept during the day).
The Lord knew that I needed my easiest baby first. I think if I had had Lily (aka the PURPLE crying at the top of her lungs kid--every. single. day. from 3:30-8pm for 3 solid months) first, I would have stopped with one. 11 years ago I was a living in a place that was hours away from my family, church, and hometown friends. In a matter of two weeks, we moved to a small apartment that had the strangest smells (and no AC on the second floor), changed churches, started new jobs, found out we were pregnant, and celebrated our first wedding anniversary. It was an incredibly hard time--and without a solid local support system, I started sinking.
There were many days I just didn't know up from down. Chris would be gone for different events and obligations at the church and I would be at home alone with sweet baby Molly and my thoughts. It was our first ministry as a married couple, and when you are young it's just plain hard (side note: if your church has recently employed a young couple, please be kind to them). Everyone needs time to grow and develop into their careers. No one is perfect, although the egos of the young (ours included) tend to paint a different story. We did the best we could, but we still had a lot to learn.
The church was also recovering from a significant loss and there were a lot of scars and wounds that hadn't had time to properly heal. Chris inherited a lot of issues and hurts, and it was not an easy season for us. Looking back and knowing what we know now, we do not regret that period of our lives. We met some beautiful children and families, and we learned a lot about doing church.
And we also learned that hurting people hurt people.
Plain and simple.
All of that stress, combined with raging postpartum hormones and loneliness, sent me into a deep depression. I didn't have anyone locally to confide in about my struggles, and I felt like I had to keep on a brave face for Chris at the church because I didn't want to give certain individuals any more ammunition to use against him. I was so incredibly lost. I spent a lot of days wearing a mask because I was too proud to let anyone see the scary things going on inside my heart and inside my head. I simply felt trapped.
There were a lot of conversations between the Lord and I during that time--and it was pretty clear that He was not going to bring me out of that valley quickly. It was a long time before I could honestly say that I was happy again--and even then it was a hesitant happy. I learned a lot about total surrender in that season. I learned that I do not have control over the things that happen to me--and that life doesn't always operate on a planned schedule of events. And while I believe that I have crossed that bridge and can look back without emotions getting in the way of reality, I still have deep scars from that time in my life. Certain conversations and ideas can quickly send me back into the depths unless I am extremely careful to guard my heart and my thoughts.
Eleven years ago, I honestly didn't know if I was going to make it through. I look back on that time as one of my lowest times in regards to my faith. I had no idea that life could really be that hard. It was incredibly painful, and unless you've ever been in the depths of a clinical depression of any sort, you cannot possibly understand what it feels like.
However, that story has brought me the gift of being able to share with others going through the same troubles. My experience has introduced me to some of the most beautiful people I have ever met and has cultivated some of my most precious friendships. Chris and I have talked with women who felt completely ashamed and scared, and men who have been at total loss--and we have looked those folks in the eyes and told them that they were not alone, that they were not crazy, and that it was going to be ok. After we discovered the social stigma that comes with mental health, we decided that we would never be ashamed to speak up and speak out about it.
I would rather folks think that I'm a complete and total nutcase than to allow people to walk that dark road alone.
It is incredible to see how the Lord has used that time for His good. I smiled this morning as I reflected back on these past 11 years. Life has changed so much and even through the worst moments, I can honestly say that it's been a magnificent ride. I'm looking forward to celebrating with my sweet Molly tomorrow--celebrating her life and celebrating the story we were given 11 years ago.