When I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

“My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me.Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”

I find myself in a season that is a breeding ground for shame. Just being an adult is hard enough in this world of social media and high standards. Then when you add in parenting, marriage, family, friends, ministry, missions, and all of the other hundreds of little things that I’m supposed to do on a daily basis like feed the tiny humans and make sure everyone has clean clothes…well let’s just say I can never get it all done. I hate that I can never get it all done. I feel shame about the fact that I can’t get it all done. I am also ashamed that I have anxiety, crippling anxiety, about all of these things. I feel shame that I am not enough, and I feel shame in the way I deal with not being enough. That is where I began the year and my meditation time with this verse. 

“My grace is sufficient for you.”

If this is true, then I cannot live in shame any longer. If the grace of Jesus is really enough for me, then I have to let go of how many mistakes I made today. If His grace is really sufficient, I have to quit beating myself up about letting my kids watch tv or eat hot dogs or go to daycare or whatever other mom guilt is thrown my way. I have to let go of the fact that I missed opportunities to fix or help or speak truth. I have to let go of the fact that I could have loved better, could have spoken better, could have acted better, could have been braver, or stronger, or wiser. I have to let go of the fact that I am not a perfect friend or mentor or daughter or sister. I have to let go of the fact that I could have said something different, had more patience, been a better mom. I have to let go of the fact that I cannot do it all. I have to let go of the fact that I still get anxious. I have to let go of the fact that I made mistakes, will keep making mistakes, and will probably hurt someone’s feelings or disappoint them. In shaming myself, I am saying that His grace is not enough for me. In covering myself with self-hatred thoughts and words, I am saying that I am above the grace of Jesus. By drowning myself in shame, I am saying, your death, it doesn’t cover me. It doesn’t count for me. Is that what I want? NO! 

So LET IT GO! Let the shame go. Let His grace be sufficient. 

“For my power is made perfect in weakness.”

When I admit and embrace that I am not enough…I mean really embrace and accept that I cannot, will not, and should not be perfect…When I let myself find freedom in the grace of Jesus and fully live knowing that I am imperfect…When I breathe in and out with the knowledge that I am broken in weakness…Then and only then, will the power of Christ be made perfect. As long as I keep trying to be strong all on my own, Christ’s power will have no room in me. There is no place for the Spirit to fill me if I keep pretending like I can do it all on my own. If I keep trying to be everything to everybody, then I will just keep ending the day in a ball on the floor full of anxiety and brokenness. BUT if I can embrace my imperfections and allow myself the freedom to be forgiven and accepted with all of my faults and weakness and shortcomings – not just sometimes but each moment – then the power really comes. Then the power of Jesus, the power of the Spirit, it is perfected in me.

The Bible is full of stories of God using a broken person, group, or place that the world defines as weak, in order to bring power into the world. That is not by accident. God has proven over and over that He is most powerful when us humans step back, accept that we are weak and allow Him to really show off. It is possible for God’s power to be shown in me no matter what, but it is only perfected when I admit and embrace that I can never be enough on my own. 

Now this does not give us license to sin or make excuses for immoral behavior. Christ was able to admit his weakness, let the power of God fill him, and still remain sinless. Sin and weakness are not synonyms. 

“Therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me.”

So, I must then take it a step further. Not only should I just be weak and accept it, I need to boast about it. I need to shout that I am a screw up. I make mistakes. I need to own it. I need to quit pretending that I have it all together or even that I should have it all together. I need to own this hot mess that I am. Instead of getting embarrassed by my inadequacies,  I need to let go of these crippling expectations and allow Christ to dwell in me. Again, this does not mean that I get a pass to sin but instead that I now can focus on progress over perfection. I have to admit, out loud, that I do not have it all together. Quit the pretending. For him to really fill me with the Spirit, I need to acknowledge without fear that I am struggling on my own and in need of help. This whole life, adulting, parenting thing…It’s all hard. Only when I embrace my weakness, embrace my anxiety, embrace my imperfection, then the power, the spirit of Christ will dwell in me. It will come in, grow roots and start living inside of me. When that power lives inside of me, it starts to seep out into everything I do. But I have to remain humble in knowing that I alone am weak, and that is ok.

“Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”

I don’t have to be happy that bad things are happening. I’m still allowed to have bad days. I’m allowed to get angry and be frustrated. I’m allowed to beg for another way, just like Jesus did in the garden before dying on the cross. This verse is not saying that God makes the bad things happen for you to be filled with power. It is saying that even though you will go through all kinds of hardships, you can be content knowing that Jesus is hurting with you. This world is broken. It is fallen. Jesus is not going to take away all the distress from your life. I truly believe that a good father shouldn’t and can’t move every difficulty out of the way for His children. But a good father does sit and listen and stroke our hair and cry with us in the insults and pain. He walks with us, gives us wisdom, gives us strength, and gives us POWER! He doesn’t need the bad things in order to give us power. He does however use the weakness, insults, distress, persecution, and difficulties to redeem the brokenness inside of us and bring forth power. He redeems it by filling us in those moments of weakness. He fills us with His spirit so that we are overflowing with the strength and power of Christ. He surrounds us with the church, the body, and our community to strengthen us and help us put one foot in front of the other, one day at a time. We can be content and at peace with our weaknesses because Christ is enough. We don’t have to be enough. Life is full of BOTH hardship and life-giving moments. It is full of both insults and encouragement. It is full of both distress and laughter. It is full of both people that tear you down and powerful community that can fill you up. It is full of both difficulties and wonder. I am both weak and strong at the same time. That is the way life is meant to be lived. For when I am weak, then I am strong. Again, I don’t have to rejoice in the fact that the bad is happening BUT you can rejoice that in that moment or season of darkness, in this roller coaster of life, God IS YOUR STRENGTH! Christ is POWER. 

Christ died to wash away our sin and guilt and shame, but he was also RISEN from the grave to show and fill us with POWER. Even in our darkest days, know that Sunday is coming. May we walk in that power today. 

Leaving and Letting Go

Derek and I decided long before we had kids that missions and service and ministry would be a part of our lives. We actually decided that even before we met each other. We both feel called to work with teenagers. We fell in love because as teachers, we were both the last ones on our hallway each day with students in our room, and we would encourage each other and learn from each other as we just naturally started our ministries. Then, once we got married it just made that ministry even greater. Getting to go on mission trips together and pour into teenagers and people around the world as a team has just always been a life giving calling for us both. 

Now that we not only have a child, but THREE children at once, I feared that this special part of us might have to be put on hold or change for a while. And in a lot of ways it has changed. I stay at home with our 3 kids instead of teaching. Students and former students come over to our house now to play with our kids instead of me having lunch or breakfast with them. In addition, we now get the privilege of pouring into 3 small humans together as a team and as ministry. I recognize that our family alone is a huge and wonderful and life giving ministry. BUT I still feel called to go. I love that even though so many pieces of our ministry look different right now, so far we have been able to be leaders on mission trips the last 2 years while raising our triplets. Both my parents and my in-laws have been champs and are willing to watch our kids while we follow this call on our hearts to go. 

That said. I’m really terrified this year. Last year when we went to China, I was so exhausted from taking care of 3 newborns. I hadn’t been out of the house much and the trip just felt so freeing. I felt like I got to remember who I was and how to slow down again. That trip began a journey of self-discovery in me. It reminded me to not get lost in this craziness of motherhood but to listen to the Spirit. It began a season of healing for me. Plus I just loved pouring into the high schoolers on our trip. We were going to a place that is so close to my heart. Shepherd’s Field feels like another home. I felt so confident leaving for that trip, and then coming back I had this image of the kids running to me and jumping in my arms…

Well, for one thing the kids weren’t really running yet, but when we got back, it was hard. Lucy and Oliver were fine and honestly ignored us when we walked up the stairs for the first time after being gone for 10 days. They just kept playing. Shepherd on the other hand was ticked. He was mad that we had left him and wouldn’t let me touch him or hold him or talk to him. He was back to normal by that evening and even more so by the next morning, but it was still hard.

Now here we are several months later, and we are leaving for Honduras tomorrow. I really feel like the Spirit was at work the way this trip just happened to have an open spot the exact year that we aren’t able to go to China. While Derek and I were praying about how we could still be involved together in missions this year, this trip was instantly on our hearts. Derek has been on this trip around 10 times and he has always wanted us to go together. I know that this is where God is calling me. I know that I will find purpose and that God can and will use me if I let him. I know that this group of high school students is fantastic, and I can’t wait to get to know them better. 

But I’m scared. This time, I’m really really scared. My kids spent several days in the hospital just 3 months ago. It’s still winter, so there is a chance that they could get sick again and have to go back while we are gone. More than that, I’m afraid to leave Shepherd. I know that Lucy and Oliver will barely miss me (haha), but my sensitive Shepherd will be mad again. I’m afraid that it will mess him up. I’m afraid that he will be so mad at me that it will forever change our relationship. I’m afraid that he won’t love me the same. Last year he couldn’t talk. This year, he can tell me how mad he is that I was gone.

The truth is, those things might happen. They probably won’t, but they might. They might get sick. Shepherd might be mad at me for days or weeks this time. It might make his anxiety worse. He might cry for me everyday that I am gone. But that doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t go. 

If I don’t go, then God will still do amazing things on that trip. He doesn’t need me to make that trip great. I’m not going because I am this wonderful Christian and the best mentor and the only one that can pour into those high schoolers. That’s not it at all. I am not invaluable. But I do feel called to go. 

I’m going because I need my kids to know that even though they have forever changed my life and my ministry, my life is bigger than just the 3 of them. My ministry is bigger than the 3 of them. I feel guilty typing that. I feel scared typing that. But I want to raise kids that become adults that depend on Jesus and have coping skills to bravely take on the world. AND I am the best me when I have purpose outside of just them. I am a better version of myself when I am both loving them and others. I need both and that’s ok.

My theme for the year continues to be BOTH/AND. I am both a mom and a minister to teenagers. God has called me to both. And so even though I am scared…I will go.

A New Year

As I look back on 2018, I am filled with a dichotomy of emotions that exist simultaneously. I am both exhausted and content. I have both wonderful memories from the year and some that are really painful. My heart is heavy and filled at the same time. It feels like I spent just as much time at the doctor, hospital, and emergency room, as I did just enjoying my precious babies this year, BUT at the same time in all of the sickness, our family was bombarded with love and support from our friends and family which brings me so much joy. I think that this is the way that life is meant to be lived – in the world of the “both/and.” With every hardship and negative, there is a positive and shining light to be found. Sometimes it takes a while, and sometimes I just don’t have the energy or time or desire to see it, but it’s still there. In fact, the positive may just be that we survived. I sure am thankful that “His mercies are new every morning.” I’m thankful for grace. I’m thankful for the ability to be both full of love and full of anxiety at the same time. I’m thankful that my babies are both messy and beautiful. I’m thankful that my marriage has both been challenged and strengthened this year. I’m thankful that even though my ministry seems smaller, it also seems deeper. I’m thankful that even though my kids have had around 13 ear infections, a few sinus infections, several stomach bugs, Hand Foot & Mouth, ear tubes, RSV, pneumonia, more runny noses, coughs and colds than I can count, stitches, bumps, bruises, busted lips all in 2018…today they are happy and healthy. I’m thankful that even though 2018 brought my most challenging mental and emotional year as I struggled through anxiety and panic attacks, it also brought me Brene Brown, the Enneagram, a good counselor, and more soul searching and self-discovery than I ever thought possible. 2018 brought both many tears, and also so many belly laughs that kept me rolling for days. 

Each year I pick a verse that defines what I want to focus on and meditate over for the year. I learn the context of that verse and memorize it. I put it on my heart and mind and soul. When I look back and read my verses from the years past, the feelings and emotions of that year come flooding back. I can feel where my heart was at that time and how that verse spoke to me. I have written a few times about my verse for 2018 – Exodus 14:13-14. I have needed this verse so many times this year. As I am sitting here praying and trying to decide my verse for 2019, the “both/and” feels very important. I want the freedom to feel seemingly opposite emotions at the exact same time. This year I want to embrace the fact that I am both weak and strong. I want to feel confident that even though my anxiety might not leave, the Lord’s grace will continue to be even more abundant. I want to focus less on where I fall short and rather on where Christ is more than enough. In fact, I want to acknowledge that without my insufficiencies, the fullness of Christ’s strength may not be seen. So today, here’s to me not being enough but enough all at the same time. 2019, I’m ready for you. 

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weakness, insults, hardships, persecutions, and in difficulties, for the sake of Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Who am I?

I have been wrestling a lot lately with this very simple question: “Who am I?” 

For the past year and a half with newborn/baby triplets, I have been a survivor and just making it to the next day with healthy, happy babies. Staying sane was my goal and sometimes seemed like an unattainable goal. Now that Shepherd, Lucy, and Oliver are toddlers and especially now that they go to 3 half days of pre-school each week, I have time to really figure out my goals and identity beyond just survival. Do I want to be a teacher again? Do I want to solely focus on being a great stay at home mom? Do I want to be a writer? Do I want to run a marathon? Do I want to focus on ministry and missions? Who am I? 

Everyday recently I get asked 2 questions by friends, family, and strangers. I’m not talking once or twice… I have been asked these at least once a day for 5 weeks.

  1. Are you supermom taking care of triplets!?
  2. What are you doing with all of your free time now that the babies go to school?

For some reason, both of these questions make me feel super defensive. I have laid awake in the middle of the night several times over the last few weeks trying to come up with good answers to these questions. First of all, let’s clear the air, I am NOT a supermom. I am a very tired mom. I struggle with anxiety. I struggle with patience. I struggle with balance and often feel like a failure. All of us are just doing our best one day at a time. If you had triplets, you would figure it out one day at a time too. If you have one baby, and it’s crazy hard, it doesn’t mean that you couldn’t handle 3 babies, it would just be different. I do this whole motherhood of triplets thing with a WHOLE lot of help and a WHOLE lot of mistakes. But as soon as I can explain that I’m a mess and not a superhero, I get that 2nd question… “So, what are you doing with all of your free time now that the babies go to school?”

I’ve been on a journey since May to learn how to take care of myself and to find peace and presence in the chaos. Part of that journey was creating space and time in my life to practice self-care. I’m learning how to say no and how to be still. Those 12 hours each week with the kids at pre-school allow me to eat. They allow me to sit and think and breathe. They allow me to do laundry and go to the grocery store. They allow me space to deal with all the hiccups that come with having three toddlers like going to the doctor, cleaning up our dog peeing everywhere, or just organizing the house. They allow me time to not just survive. I feel so much guilt and so much shame in the fact that this time is free time. I can choose what I do with it, and I feel like I need to itemize every single minute of it to anyone that asks. I go into detail of how I tutor at night and that time allows me to prep for tutoring. It allows me to prep for dinner and to create an online class. I feel this deep need to make sure that people know I’m using my time wisely. I might need to go apologize to some strangers that were just trying to politely make small talk in asking me this question, and I instead went into this monologue about every detail of my Monday, Thursday, and Friday mornings. I feel like if I’ve been given this gift of time, but I have sadly attached strings to that time. Since I do not work a full time job, and since I pay money for my kids to go to pre-school, I better be able prove that I’m using my time wisely. Prove that it’s worth it. Prove that I’m worth it. 

So I am simultaneously trying to convince people that I am far from perfect, but using my time perfectly all at the same time. I’m emotionally exhausted. 

When you meet someone for the first time, one of the first questions they ask is “What do you do?” “Tell me about yourself.” My answer has always been, “I’m a teacher!” For the past year and a half, that answer has been, “I have triplets!” But now I have time to be more than just a mom of triplets. I have time to do things and find myself again. So back to the question…who am I? Who do I want to be?

My revelation is slowly coming from 2 places – first from my husband Derek (the birthplace of most of my revelations) and also from Lauren Daigle. 

First, Derek preached a sermon at our church a few weeks ago about the Holy Spirit and led everyone in an exercise of breath prayer. Click here to check it out.

At the end of the exercise you are standing with Jesus and he is looking you in the eyes and calmly and gently asks, What can I do for you? And I immediately wanted to yell – WHO AM I? Who am I, Jesus? What am I supposed to do with my life? I knew the answer was that I am His. I knew that. But even then I didn’t feel like it was enough. I didn’t feel like I was enough. I felt like well sure, of course I’m yours, but I still need to earn your love and Derek’s love and my kids’ love and my friends’ and parents’ love. I know I’m yours, but what do I need to DO?? Who am I was so intimately tied to what I do. It has always been tied to my grades, my thoughtfulness, my church attendance, my athletic ability, my relationship status, the size of my ministry, the way I care for others…

Then, a couple weeks Lauren Daigle released a new album called “Look Up Child.” The entire album has been on repeat at my house but one song in particular has been really speaking truth over me. In it, she asks the same question: “Remind me who I am!?” And the answer has nothing to do with WHAT she does but WHOSE she is. “You say I am loved…You say I am strong…You say I am held…You say that I am Yours.” That has to be enough. And all I need to do is believe.

Believe that I am loved. Believe that I don’t have to earn love. Believe that my goals and my identity and the answer to the question about my “free” time and all of the million things that need to get done everyday…they aren’t what makes me, ME. I still need to dream big dreams and create and aspire to do and listen to what God calls me, BUT that has nothing to do with who I am. I was so convinced that those things were all tied together. If all I get done in the 4 hours that the kids are at school is to refocus my brain and remind myself that I am loved, it was a successful morning. I don’t have to prove myself. I am enough.

Let me just leave these song lyrics with you and the link to the youtube video:

I keep fighting voices in my mind that say I’m not enough

Every single lie that tells me I will never measure up

Am I more than just the sum of every high and every low?

Remind me once again just who I am, because I need to know (ooh oh)

You say I am loved when I can’t feel a thing

You say I am strong when I think I am weak

You say I am held when I am falling short

When I don’t belong, oh You say that I am Yours

And I believe (I), oh I believe (I)

What You say of me (I)

I believe

The only thing that matters now is everything You think of me

In You I find my worth, in You I find my identity.

You are not the sum of what you DO. You are loved. You are strong. You are a child of the King. You are enough.

Approval Addiction Part 2

ennea app visualIf you haven’t already read “Approval Addiction part 1,” you might want to go check out my brief overview of the Enneagram and the background of this post. I wanted to split up my Enneagram Two thoughts into two posts because this set deals specifically with me as a “Two” mom. Like I said before, I have always struggled with pleasing others. I have high anxiety and fear and shame about disappointing others. It will always be something that I battle. It will always be something that I will daily hand over to God. That said, the shame of not being enough has been tripled lately with the addition of my 3 beautiful children.

The whole having kids thing, especially three at a time, means that all I want to do and think I can do is take care of them (and all of the other people in my life). Then, I have no time left to take care of myself. I feel so much pressure to take care of them and everyone else around me all at the same time, and I am exhausted from my inability to be everything for everyone all the time. The beautiful thing is that I do not need to be everything or even half of the things that I place on myself. Believing that I am enough is hard, but identifying the lies buried deep down and speaking truth over them, is the first step. Writing down my thoughts in this blog has helped give me freedom to believe them. I re-read these thoughts regularly. Usually my head is filled with others’ feelings and emotions so writing and re-reading this blog helps me remember truth and my true thoughts and feelings. 

Just like the last post, many of these thoughts may resonate with you even if you are not a Two on the Enneagram. Many mothers and females in the church feel anxiety over being a helper as they try to balance all that life calls them to be and do. We are being told by so many people and places exactly what our lives need to look like. We are told that our role is to support and be in the background and not lead. 

I hope that you also find truth and freedom as you read as well.

Please tread cautiously and graciously as you enter into my thoughts for the next few minutes. Recognize that this is difficult for me, and that I am just beginning to figure out how to break free from them. 

Thought #1: Before kids I had time to be an unhealthy Two, running around taking care of everyone, needing to be needed, creating this web of support where I was validated and lifted up for my helpfulness. Now with the kids, I just don’t have the time. So I’m running around trying to patch these holes that are just constantly dripping with water, and it’s impossible to help them all. I’m so afraid that one will burst open and it will be my fault. And in reality they are bursting. I will always love taking care of others, doing ministry, mentoring, and reaching out. There is a healthy way to take care of people. In order to get there, I have to realize that I am not the savior. I love being a Two. I love that I genuinely enjoy serving, mentoring, teaching, being a mom, and giving of myself. Those things bring me life and will always fill me with joy and purpose. I love that I am good at seeing a need and knowing what to do. I love that I am an encourager. I don’t want to ever lose that piece of me. However, I need to let go of the lie that everyone needs me in order to rebuild and regain life and purpose in knowing that Jesus is the one that speaks through me. I am nothing without Him. He should fight for me. I need to be still and quiet and let Him use me instead of me trying to use Him as my excuse to be loved and needed. My ministry will be even stronger when I realize that I am not the savior, Jesus is the savior. I am not that important. But in humility and with confidence I can have a ministry that involves vulnerability, empathy, and boundaries. 

Thought #2: I have 20 texts right now, and it is physically painful to not look at them and respond right now because someone might need me, and I wasn’t able to help them. But if I sit and respond right now, I take away time from my family. They suffer when I keep trying to plug all of the holes and take care of everyone around me. I have to push against the urge to be needed. Saying yes to others often means saying no to my family.

Thought #3: Derek said one small thing that I needed to do, and I lost it because I failed to anticipate that need before he voiced it. I already feel like I am drowning, and when Derek says something that even remotely sounds like disappointment, I lose it. I panic. I just can’t do it all. That pressure to be all things, doesn’t come from Derek though. It comes from myself. In fact, if I said “Derek, I can’t do that small thing right now.” He would say, “That’s totally fine! We can deal with it later.” Why do I put so much pressure on myself? 

Thought #4: I’m learning more and more recently that often the feelings that I have are not my own. It’s really hard for me to identify my feelings and how I feel when people are hurting around me. I feel their feelings so strongly that I think they are mine. And sometimes they are. When I’m around my kids, it’s even harder for me to identify my real feelings. They are always needy, so my feelings are often about them or for them. It’s really hard to express my personal needs because my brain is so full of their needs.

Thought #5: Derek regularly asks me a simple question (like where to put something or what do I want to eat) and my response is a panicked – “I don’t know!” I am a terrible multi-tasker. With 3 kids, I am constantly doing at least 4 things at a time and my brain is so full. Even the simplest question seems impossible, especially if it’s about myself or my needs or my feelings. I have found that calmly saying, “Can you write that question down?” or “Can you ask me again in a few minutes after I have finished the task at hand?” helps tremendously.

Thought #6: Shepherd bit another student at school. I cried and had a panic attack about him going back to school the next day. I want to please everyone and with kids it’s exhausting because I can’t control what they do. I now disappoint people through my kids. It’s a whole new level of balance and letting go. I want to be able to control how they act. I don’t want people to be disappointed in me because of what they do. I want them to be kind so badly, but I can’t force it. And I’m mad at myself for getting so anxious and stressed about it and feel like a burden in that too. I’m still working on the solution to this one. But identifying it is the first step. I have a feeling that I will circle back to this one in another post soon, so stay tuned and please pass along any wisdom that you have found helpful!

Thought #7: I don’t have trouble asking for help and receiving help when I ask. Because in that, I still have control. But when someone offers help that I haven’t asked for our just helps and sees a need that I didn’t see, it’s much harder and I feel guilty that maybe I missed their needs and can’t help them.

Thought #8: I can let people help if it in turn blesses them or helps someone else. And if I take care of myself, it must be to immediately bless someone else. The truth is that it’s ok to just take care of myself. It’s not selfish to do things simply because they bring me life. In fact, I’m much better at taking care of those that I love after taking care of myself. 

I have an inner voice constantly telling me that I am not enough, a failure, and unlovable. Telling this voice to shut up does not help. Speaking gently and confidently to it does. I legit tell it to step down, stop talking, and walk away. Then I speak truth into those areas. Brene Brown says it perfectly in Gifts of Imperfection: “No matter what gets done and how much is left undone. I am enough. It’s going to bed at night thinking, yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.” (Page 125 if you are interested.)

I have been asked by several people for the Enneagram resources that I have used. Here are my favorites:

 

Book:

The Road Back to you

Podcasts:

Annie Downs with Beth McCord – Overview of the Enneagram

Jen Hatmaker with Ian Cron– Overview of the Enneagram

The Enneagram Journey by Suzanne Stabile – very detailed and every episode that I have listened to has been amazing

The Road Back to You – The authors of the book also have a podcast that is really helpful

 

Approval Addiction Part 1

As a freshman in high school I read a book by John Ortberg called The Life You’ve Always Wanted. In it he talks about the approval addiction. I knew then that I would always be battling that addiction. I have always wanted to please others – especially those that I dearly love. I want to help and not be a burden. I want to do everything that I possibly can to keep them from being disappointed. With that comes lots of anxiety and an unhealthy desire to be needed and appreciated. I am a helper and a perfectionist. I am a two on the Enneagram with a strong one wing.

ennea type 2

The Enneagram is a beautiful personality test that goes beyond answering the question “Who am I?” and explains the motivation and fear behind why we do what we do. While most personality tests that I have taken are static, this one is very movable and allows space for the way we change in times of stress and security. To take a test click here. BUT please be aware that it often takes months to figure out your exact type. The test just gives you an idea of where to start reading and learning about your type. Message me if you want more details.

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I think we all have something in our lives like Paul when he profoundly exclaims in Romans  7: 15, “I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.” The Enneagram and Brene Brown’s book that I talked about last post have given me the language to explain why I do the thing that I hate but often do anyway. It has given me the words to express and identify how and why and when I get most anxious. It has given me understanding of my husband and other relationships beyond what I could have imagined. Finding words in the midst of shame brings freedom. Shame and fear live in silence and secrets. There is so much freedom in having words and language for feelings that I have always had and never understood! I have had the best conversations because of the Enneagram over the last couple months! My goal is that maybe I can help someone else find their own voice along the way.

Even if you are not a two or a one on the Enneagram, you probably know someone that exhibits these characteristics. Females, especially women in the church, often mistype as a two. We are told our whole lives to support, help, and take care of others. That is the role we often play in the church and at home. This role is a vital one and beautiful. But I often want more. I can talk about women’s role in the church another time in another post, but for now, what I urge you to do as you read these thoughts is to picture your Enneagram two friend, wife, daughter, brother, etc. Step into our shoes for a minute to understand just how we see the world. The beauty of the Enneagram for me has been to both find language for why I do the things that I do, but also to find compassion for how others (especially those close to me) view the world. 

With that in mind, I want to walk through some “two” thoughts that I have had over the last month or so. There are a lot so I’ll post some this week and post the rest next week. If this resonates with you or sounds like a loved one that you have, please come back and read the rest next week!

Thought #1: When people that I love share their pain, I often hear that I have failed. If they are anything but happy, it must mean that I did something or failed to do something that could have made their life better. I failed to take care of them. I feel shame. I have failed at keeping them happy. Or I get angry and think they have failed me, why aren’t they stronger? There is rarely a middle ground. Learning this about myself has allowed me to listen to my loved ones in pain without feeling defensive or angry. 

Thought #2: My Enneagram thought of the day (click this link to get daily enneagram emails) talked about making guilt provoking comments towards people. I do that. I set unsaid expectations for them and drop little comments to make them feel bad if they don’t fulfill my secret wishes. But I do it all in the name of making them better and can’t fathom doing something with poor motives because that would mean that I’m not caring for them and thereby unlovable. I truly believe that if I am a burden and not taking care of my loved ones then they couldn’t possibly love me back in return. I am learning to verbalize these expectations. I need to love without strings attached. Just because I would know to do something for someone to best take care of them, does not mean that I should expect them to do that in return. That isn’t fair, and it isn’t real love.

Thought #3: I’m not very good at the in between. I have 2 options: to be perfect or to be the worst failure ever. I either think I have great intentions and do everything for the right reason and have an inaccurate sense of self-importance, OR I think I have failed and hate myself and think I am unworthy of love. There is no in between. Speaking truth that I am neither perfect nor a failure and yet loved has been life giving. 

Thought #4: I slept great last night. I woke up to find out that Derek slept terrible. I immediately felt shame for having slept while Derek didn’t and wished that I had slept poorly in his place. This is not normal. It’s ok that I slept better than he did. I didn’t do anything wrong. I don’t need to be defensive about my good nights sleep either.

Thought #4: In health, I move towards a 4. I am able to be more self aware and in touch with my full range of emotions. I’m not afraid to admit when I am sad and angry and maybe don’t have the best intentions. I am ok when others are disappointed in me or when I don’t have to be the one to fix their problems.

Thought #5: When someone is upset with me or hurt I feel a deep desire to fix it and make it better. Even if I didn’t do anything wrong, I want to make it better. I feel like if they don’t see me as helpful, then I cannot be loved. Sometimes this plays out poorly because I force my “help” on people that don’t want or need it.

Thought #6: Twos are the only number that never go to the thinking triad. We don’t go their in stress or security. It’s all feelings and some anger. So, I can only process outside myself so talking or writing are the only ways that I can actually figure out my feelings and thoughts – hence the creation of this blog.

Thought #7: It’s hard when people ask what do I feel or what do I need because I often don’t know. I feel everyone else’s feelings and know everyone else’s needs, but verbalizing my own often seems impossible.

Thought #8: I often can not fathom that something I did could hurt someone else. Because if that’s true, then I am a failure, and I would not be capable of being wanted or loved. The truth is that I do hurt others sometimes. I am not perfect. Grace is real.  

Thought #9: A girl I was going to tutor decided to drop her class. She is a perfect stranger. I have never even met her. I really want to call her and convince her to not drop the class. Not because I want to tutor her although I do, but mostly I don’t want her to miss out on the wonderfulness of statistics because she is scared or doesn’t have all the info. I want to help her!! But she did not ask for my opinion. She does not know me. She does not need me to fight for her or to save her. But I am fighting my urge to fix this “problem.” I have to re-learn how to say “No”, especially no to things that aren’t even asked of me, in every new season of life.

Thought #10: I know it’s crazy that I often have so many emotions that aren’t even mine, and it’s silly that my friends and family have to ask me, a mature adult, what do you want, what are you feeling, and what do you need? It makes me even more thankful for the people in my life that patiently understand and help me process my true feelings and needs. 

Learning about the Enneagram has helped me start to navigate through these feelings and emotions and scenarios. In the words of Suzanne Stabile, I tend to “over-prepare, over-react, over-think, over-feel, and over-respond.” The Enneagram has given me self-awareness and language to try and see the root of my anxiety. I am just starting to touch the surface of allowing myself time to be confused and to discover my true self.  I am allowing myself time to just sit with these thoughts and let them be. I need time to find grace and to know that I don’t have to take care of everyone or always have it figured out. If you are an Enneagram two, rest today knowing that you are not alone and that you are loved beyond what you do.

And if you are a woman (or man) that feels forced into these two feelings and emotions because you are told that your goal in life is to support and that your feelings and emotions are not important – I hope that you also hear that you are worthy, you are valued, you are loved for YOU. Not for your service and support but because of your uniqueness and simply because you are a daughter of the King. 

And to those of you with loved ones that are twos, tell them today that they are appreciated, loved, and needed not just because of what they do for you or how they take care of you, but simply because of who they are. 

Meditation and Imperfection

If you have not read Brene Brown’s book The Gifts of Imperfection then do everyone and yourself a favor and go to Amazon right now and order it. In fact, let me give you the link: click this!  I’m not kidding. Forget reading this post, go now. It has changed what I believe about myself and my lifelong battle with perfectionism and anxiety. Well, this book along with a very helpful therapist and learning about the Enneagram have helped me start to find the root of my anxiety and panic attacks. I hope you read that correctly that this is just the beginning. I still have a long way to go and will always probably struggle with both perfectionism and anxiety. But I have felt so much freedom in several things that I want to share. 

First of all, the highlight of this book and the main thing that I learned from my counselor was simple but huge – I need to love myself more. I need to be kind to myself. The root of my panic attacks is my anger. Anger at myself. It’s not the root of my anxiety. I’ll talk about that more later, but it is the difference between feeling overwhelmed and entering into a full blown panic attack. I just get so mad! I’m talking hysterical ANGER. I scream and want to hit things and just hate who I am in that moment. I cannot logically pull myself together. I feel like a burden and like I’m letting everyone down around me. I feel like I’m wasting time that could be spent sleeping or resting or pouring into all of these people that love me daily. I start to spiral into pure shame and guilt. Shame that I am not strong enough. Guilt that I again have failed. Brene is an expert in shame research. It’s amazing the way shame and perfectionism are tied together. I feel so ashamed that I can’t be the person that I want to be. Which causes me to be so angry. It’s also amazing how I think it’s ok to call myself an idiot (and much harsher words). I would be so upset if my kids ever spoke those words about themselves, or if they ever heard me speak those words out loud. In her book Brene says, “I don’t want my level of self-love to limit how much I can love my children or my husband…loving them and accepting their imperfections is much easier than turning that light of loving-kindness on myself…I know that I can talk to myself in ways that I would never consider talking to another person.” Why is it so much easier to beat myself up? 

In an effort to train my brain in self compassion and to lavish grace on myself and others, I have started meditating in the morning. I always thought that just sitting and breathing was weird and a waste of time. (I don’t know if you can tell, but I really hate wasting time.) I started though with an app that my counselor told me about called Meditation Studio. I have also tried the app Headpsace. Meditation studio uses mindfulness meditation which I like a little better. Both of these talk you through how to be gracious even in the quiet. It reminds me to not be angry when my mind inevitably drifts or when I spend 5/10 minutes daydreaming or nodding off.

The main focus of meditation is breathing and giving grace in those moments of quiet. Following along with an app when you first get started is so helpful. It’s like having a personal trainer when you are trying to get in shape for the first time. It helps keep me accountable and really instills the grace over myself that I desperately need. And most importantly it is teaching me how to breathe. I know that sounds weird, but breathing in meditation is an artform. I have always been an athlete. In sports, especially in running, I was taught different ways to breathe to best enhance my performance. Meditation breathing is similar. If you focus on how your body reacts to the breaths and on how your mouth and stomach and nose respond to each breath, it helps your muscles to slowly relax and your mind to focus. I have to be intentional about relaxing my legs and toes, my arms and shoulders and fingers, my jaw and head. With each breath, I release a little more guilt and pent up pressure and relax a little bit more. 

It was really hard at first for me to sit still and just breathe for 10 minutes. Now though, I can’t picture starting my day any other way.  That small amount of quiet breathing changes and shapes my mind the rest of the day. I often still get overwhelmed because I still have triplets and life is still messy, but I subconsciously start taking deep breaths and am more apt to give myself grace. The breaths bring me back to those 5-10 minutes of peace that morning. I am reminded of what calm looks like. I have a reference point of how to relax. I remind myself that it’s normal to get overwhelmed. Brene talks in her book about how to identify an issue or problem without over identifying it. I tend to do that a lot. I am really good at over identifying my weaknesses instead of just naming them, owning them, and moving forward. Meditation gives me the space to practice identifying a weakness and moving on. Even if that weakness is not being able to focus that morning. I simply say “wandering” and refocus without beating myself up. Learning to let go of most of that anger has been so freeing. 

To make this my own, I often combine meditation with breath prayer and lectio devina. I read a psalm and pick out one word or phrase that really sticks out to me. Then I set my timer to 5-10 minutes or I start my app, and I just sit. I sit up straight, keep the lights off, lay my hands out, close my eyes, and I breathe. I slowly breathe in and out (4 seconds in, 4 seconds out). And I focus on that word or phrase and focus on my breathing. If my mind wanders, I just gently say wandering, and gracefully move back into breathing in and out – in through my nose, out through my mouth. As I breathe in I picture that word or phrase. As I breathe out, I release everything else so that in time just that word remains. It remains on my heart and in my mind the rest of the day.

Sometimes, if I have a certain person pressing on my heart as I enter into my meditation time, I can spend that time focusing on breath prayer for them. It’s best to stick with just one person so you don’t spend the whole time jumping around. With each breath, I breathe in calm and breathe out a word that I want to pray over them. I breathe in peace or grace and breathe out strength or confidence to cover them for today.

I have also used meditation breaths at night if I can’t sleep. I have woken up several times in the middle of the night with my brain spinning about all the things that need to happen or a crazy dream. Once I start meditation breathing, my body is reminded to calm down, think logically, and to relax.

Other times I use my mantra or theme verse for this season in my life as I meditate. I spend the entire 10 minutes really placing the words on my heart and in my mind. I have it memorized, so I close my eyes and say one word with each deep breath. I slowly in the morning ingrain it in my mind, so that when I start to get overwhelmed in the day, I start breathing and that verse is on the tip of my tongue and in my head. It’s amazing what memorizing scripture and simply breathing will do.

My verse for the year that has spoken truth to me in so many ways is Exodus 14: 13-14. it says: 

“Don’t be afraid. Stand firm and see the LORD’s salvation that he will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians you see today, you will never see again. The LORD will fight for you, and you must be quiet.”

“Don’t be afraid” – In the moments of complete exhaustion and when that long list of overwhelming things that has to be done all at one time is almost too much to bear, smile. Remember the way that God has already delivered you. Remember who you are. Remember who HE is. Know that you are enough. Give yourself grace. Don’t be afraid of what is to come. Don’t be afraid to be you. Don’t be afraid to say No. Don’t be afraid to say Yes. Smile.

“Stand firm” – Breathe. Be present. Stand in this current moment. Don’t drift into the past or let your mind wander into all of the things that you need to get done tomorrow. Don’t run or lay down. STAND. Stand FIRM. Be strong. You are strong. God is stronger. Be still. Breathe.

“And see the LORD’s salvation that he will accomplish for you today” – You are not the savior. You are not a martyr. You can’t save everyone or anyone. It’s the LORD who does the saving. He is the savior. He is the deliverer. Take that pressure off. He will keep His promises. You are not alone. He is with you TODAY. He is doing great things today. 

“For the Egyptians you see today, you will never see again.” – The context of this verse comes right before the crossing of the Red Sea. The Israelites were escaping the Egyptians. The plagues had already happened. They had already placed the blood over their doorframe in Egypt as death fell on the firstborn son and animal of the Egyptians, but the Lord passed over the Israelites. They were protected, and then they were delivered. The LORD delivered them and led them with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. All too soon though the Israelites forgot. The Egyptians had changed their minds and began to chase them. They were right on their heals and the Red Sea was trapping them. They felt like there was no way out. Surely this was the end? Surely God can’t protect us this time? But here Moses is proclaiming that this fear is formed from lies. The truth is that these Egyptians – this huge, impossible, demon that is chasing you and trying to devour you – there will come a day when you will never see it again. God will win. The Lord will deliver you. He is big enough. He is strong enough. He is a God of redemption. He is a God of deliverance.

“The LORD will fight for you”  I have been doing a lot of fighting lately… 

Fighting for perfection.

Fighting to not be a burden.

Fighting to help everyone.

Fighting to be seen and known.

Fighting to be a good mom.

Fighting to be a good wife.

Fighting to be a good daughter, sister, friend.

Fighting to remember every detail.

Fighting to find myself.

Fighting myself.

Fighting for control.

Fighting to be worthy of love.

Fighting for forgiveness for my constant shortcomings.

Stop. The LORD will fight FOR you.

“and you must be quiet.” – It doesn’t say that you must fight with Him. It doesn’t say that you must complete a list of tasks before you are worthy of being fought for. It doesn’t say that you must look a certain way or act a certain way or be prepared. You don’t have to be perfect or have it all figured out. You just have to be quiet. 

So today – may you be filled with all the goodness and measure of the Lord’s promise. May you allow Him to fight for you. May you be still and see His deliverance in your life. You are worthy. You are loved.

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Grace Not Perfection

Derek and I are so grateful that we were able to go back to China this year. We took 20 high school students along with 2 other amazing adults and spent 10 days in a place that is close to both of our hearts. Derek has been going to Shepherd’s Field Children’s Village outside of Beijing for 10 years, and it is was my 4th trip. It’s hard to explain how beautiful this special needs orphanage is to us and so many others. We love the way they love and show Jesus to the world. The second reason that this trip was so good for me was that I was able to really pour into the high school students that came with us. I loved getting to be 100% focused on them. I love the way God has provided a ministry for Derek and I in this season with 3 little ones. We absolutely love that our house is open to students frequently to just come and play and talk and hang out. That’s what we have always dreamed of. When SLO is running around though, I am constantly switching between focusing on the kids and students. In China, I loved just getting to focus on those amazing 20 students that we brought with us! We had so many great conversations about life and Jesus and how to love ourselves and others and how to make Jesus come alive in the everyday. The third reason that China was so life giving to me was that I was able to eat 3 meals a day while sitting (the food in China is the BEST!!), and I got to read! I haven’t had much time lately to read (shocker right?!) so getting to pour over some good books was really refreshing to me.

I was very intentional about choosing books that would help me in my quest to find peace in my imperfections since this is something that I desperately need. The two books that I chose were Grace Not Perfection by Emily Ley and The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown. 

Grace Not Perfection was good and practical and spoke truth into many of the things that I am currently doing. I already live a pretty organized life. I get rid of clutter. I make time for things that bring me life — like good conversations with girls that I mentor, writing, working out, quiet time in the morning. I get good sleep (surprising, right?). I ask for help. I still have date nights with Derek. I have given up on the picture perfect house and clothes and babies and have enjoyed and found contentment in our own beautiful circus (cue Greatest Showman music – my new favorite album). We have a house cleaner and aren’t ashamed of asking for help. We have good community and family that pour into us constantly. We also seek it out and are intentional with surrounding ourselves with people that love us and love our kids well.

Even though most of Grace Not Perfection was just re-iterating these things that I already believed and practiced, the last section was really good for me. I want to share a little excerpt. First though, let me put this into perspective. I am writing this morning with 2 sick kids at home and the 3rd will probably get sick in the morning. I’m talking 104.7 high fevers for 4 days each kid (not at the same time so it lasts forever). We have had our fair share of sickness lately. Sick babies and being trapped inside takes a toll on me. I’ve said it before, and I will say it again. One baby is hard, triplets are really hard, sick triplets are near impossible. Derek and I had planned on me having a day to work on writing and AP Statistics this week, so I decided to try and go today. I spent the first hour of my time sitting in the parking lot of the coffee shop crying hysterically in my car, stressing about the kids being sick, stressed about Derek trying to be super dad (which he actually is super dad) and not calling me if it gets too hard, mad that they are always sick, and mad at myself for not being able to let go of everything. On top of that, my AP Statistics online class didn’t work out, so I’m mad and upset that I don’t have stat to work on. Mostly though I’m angry that my kids are always sick. That when my kids get sick, all 3 get sick and it takes 3 times longer for them to get better and so few people really understand what that’s like. I’m angry that the summer is more than half over, and we have only had a couple days at home with 3 healthy kids. I’m angry that I can’t just sit and hold my sick baby(ies) because there are always 2 others to chase. I’m mad that instead of enjoying my morning off, I’m worried about the kids and unable to shut my brain off and let go. So in that frame of mind, I read this from Emily Ley’s Grace Not Perfection:

“This isn’t how it’s supposed to look… Stop right there. How is it supposed to look? When we create fantasy images in our heads, we slay the beauty in our lives. Comparison truly is the thief of joy. And we’ve established that standard of perfection in our work and our families based on what? Social media highlight reels? Perfect people? (Im telling you — they’re like unicorns. They don’t exist.) Being a woman with many loves and responsibilities will test your patience, stretch your will, and make you love more fiercely than you ever thought possible – because time is your most precious commodity. Remember, though, that this part of life — this busy, crazy, circus-like place you’re in — is but a season. It will come and go just like all the others. Let some things slide. It’s ok if you don’t wash your hair for a week at a time during this phase. (That’s what dry shampoo and top knots are for!) There will be plenty of other times to be that kind of beautiful. Now is the time to be another kind of beautiful. Now is the time for patience, gracefulness, four books before bed, thoughtful communication, adventures, and being a master at Candy Land.”

So today instead of dwelling in the land of self-pity and self-hatred, I will seek to love where I am and who I am. I will do my best to spend a few extra minutes laughing at the crazy and a few less minutes on my phone. I will steal all the hugs and sick snuggles that I can get, even if they are fewer than most. I will cut myself some slack and give myself and my friends and my husband and my kids grace, grace, and more grace. And then I will give myself a little more grace. I am hardest on myself. Many years ago, before I was even married, I sat with a 10th grade student that is now one of my dearest kindred spirits. She shared with me about her struggles with anxiety. She gave me a quote that was her phone’s screensaver and has sense been my screensaver off and on for a long time. It said, “I will hold myself to a standard of Grace not Perfection.”

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This has been my screensaver off and on for several years.

Since then, we have both been through many ups and downs, and we both come back to that phrase often. It’s not something that you learn once and move on. It’s a constant daily battle. But today, and then again tomorrow, and then the next day, I will strive to hold myself to a standard of grace not perfection. In the next post, I’ll share with you about how Brene Brown and her book really opened my eyes as to why this is so hard and how to start to try to fumble into letting grace become my reality.

Let’s Talk About Anxiety

I have always been high stress and high anxiety. As a high school student, I was not satisfied with anything less than a 100. As a teacher myself, I now understand why my teachers were often frustrated when I would argue my 1 point after making a 99. I was that kid. I also played about 5 sports depending on the year. You could say I am fairly competitive…ok very competitive. I hate losing. I hate failure. I hate dependency. I love to be the one helping others and hate when I have let someone down. I have a very high standard for myself. Mistakes waste time. 

It turns out that these qualities clash a little with being a parent…especially a parent to 3 babies at one time. At any given moment, I am holding one screaming child while trying to chase 2 more. While my body is physically chasing children, my mind is simultaneously trying to plan out dinner, pack for the day, prep for tutoring, connect with friends, figure out how to best form community, attend church and bible study, mentor high school/college girls, be intentional about my marriage, treat each of my kids as individuals, be present, have quiet time, take care of myself, eat well, be a good daughter, a good sister…These are all good things, but my mind is exploding. I am beyond overwhelmed. I am constantly failing at something. I have written before about my dependency (see last post), and I am constantly feeling like I’m letting someone down or forgetting something. My brain just doesn’t have enough room. The result equals lots and lots of panic attacks. I’m talking curled in a ball, hysterically crying, unable to think logically, panic attacks. I kept trying to “fix” them. I joined the gym and REALLY thought that would be the end of the panic attacks. Surely I just need to work out, then I won’t be overwhelmed. It did help. It actually helped a lot, but I still got overwhelmed. And when I got overwhelmed I felt like a failure and then got stressed about being overwhelmed and felt guilty for being overwhelmed and felt like a burden on everyone around me…cue another panic attack. After a week of not sleeping because I was having panic attacks all night, I decided I needed a different solution. 

I have been mentoring for as long as I can remember. It brings me so much life and purpose to walk through life with girls that are younger than me. I love being vulnerable and honest and learn just as much from them as they do from me. It has always and will always be a part of my life. In fact, it’s how Derek and I met. We both love doing ministry and especially love when our ministries overlap. In ministry and mentoring, I tell girls constantly how amazing counseling is and how normal it is to need to share your thoughts and emotions with a professional that can help you sort through all of the millions of jumbled webs in your head. The funny and ironic thing is that I didn’t think that I needed to go to a counselor. I didn’t need counseling. I could do this by myself. I was fine. I could fix this. Counseling is too expensive. I am too busy. I’ll just pray more and it will all go away. I believed these things to be true. Turns out, that didn’t make them true.

In ministry, I also talk a lot about how important it is to understand that mental health is real just like physical health is real, but to be honest it’s still hard for me to really wrap my head around that concept. Recently Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain lost their lives to suicide and again I am reminded of the truth that so many people do not understand mental health. I believe that many of us deep down think that if we are full of the Spirit and if we are close enough to God and read our Bible enough and have enough quiet time, that we don’t need help with anxiety; we don’t need counseling. If we have God, we won’t be depressed or have panic attacks. The phrase “mentally ill” gets responses like. “Oh, they really need Jesus in their life.” While someone with cancer or a broken bone or an ear infection gets prayed for in a totally different way. I am not depressed, but I am not mentally well either. I have been so angry at myself for not being able to control my thoughts. I have been so angry that I have punched walls and the floor and yelled. I have been so disappointed in myself and felt so much shame and guilt because somewhere deep down I believe that I should be able to get a hold of this. I can control this. I can fix this. Or at least, God can fix this. I just have to pray more.

I want to say very clearly that I believe that if you are depressed or struggle with anxiety or any sort of mental illness:

1. You are not alone.

2. It is not your fault.

3. Prayer, and Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are real and alive and strong and powerful. I believe that God heals. But in the same way that someone with a broken arm needs to go to a doctor, oftentimes if you are dealing with depression or anxiety or any other mental illness, you need to get help. AND IT’S OK TO GET HELP!!!! 

It doesn’t mean that we aren’t strong enough or close enough to God. It doesn’t mean that we have failed. I think that everyday it is becoming more and more socially acceptable to proclaim that you go to counseling. Even though that is true, and even though I finally did go. I have only been once and it was amazing and so helpful (I’ll talk more about it later), but I’m nervous to go back. Most days I have again convinced myself that I don’t really need it. I convince myself that it’s too expensive or that I don’t have the time. Derek (my oh so wise husband) strongly explained one day that if I broke my arm, I wouldn’t sit around saying, “Sorry I’m not going to the doctor because it’s too expensive.” Or “I would love to go to the doctor to fix my broken arm, but I just don’t have time.” When will I finally wrap my head around the fact that mental and physical illnesses are not that different?

I’m not writing this, pretending that I have all the answers. I don’t. In fact, I have few answers. But what I do know, is that there is no shame in seeking help.