"So, is it just me? Please tell me it's not just me! PLEASE!!!! TELL ME I'M NOT ALONE!!!!...."
Have you ever felt like that? Have you ever made statements like that...out loud? To God? To a friend or a spouse or a relative? I know I have. And what is usually the answer you get back??
"YOU ARE NOT ALONE!"
I know for me, I've asked these questions at different times of my life. I remember even when I was Elementary School age, I would compare myself to girl named Cori because my best friend Lesley seemed to begin liking her more. In Jr High I was was more aware of my appearance and felt awkward. In High School, despite all that I was involved in and all the friends I had, I still felt like I didn't fit in. I was very "successful" in school and I realized shortly after I was finished with school, that much of my identity was wrapped up in my accomplishments. Now that they were gone, who was I really? Who did I want to be? Am I able to make a difference? Do I really even matter?
Of course, life continued...as it always does. Have you noticed that life around us doesn't stop when we have a question or need to figure something out?? Wouldn't that be nice! If you are considering a job change or purchasing a new house, wouldn't it be nice if everything else around you slowed down so you could really focus on the decision at hand? Haha!! I think that'd be way cool! :) BUT, alas, it does not, and it did not when I was younger either.
During my early twenties, I married the love of my life, and 3 years later, we had our first child. Oh what joy that was! I LOVED being pregnant! I LOVED when I could finally feel my baby kicking around inside. I did NOT love all the weight I gained! UGH! But, to have that little boy - he still brings me such joy! A few years later, another baby. We didn't find out the gender of our first baby, but we decided we would find out for this one. We took Jordan, our son, with us to the ultrasound. The tech asked him, what is the baby's name? Jordan said if it's a girl, it's Emma. The tech asked, "What if it's a boy?" Jordan simply replied, "We don't know yet." Well, needless to say, the tears came streaming down my face when the tech said, "Looks like we have an Emma!" Oh, the joy! A couple of years later, another precious baby. This pregnancy was a bit different and I went into early labor at 33 weeks. I was put on bedrest and medication but that only held him off 2 weeks. One night, I realized I had not felt my baby move in quite a while. He had been such a mover and a shaker so it was quite obvious. It was late at night, I told my husband, we prayed and went to sleep. I already had Dr's appointment the next day, but I called in the am and they wanted to see me right away. Long story shortened, Carson was born that afternoon via an emergency C-section. He was in NICU for 6 days, but miraculously, everything the Dr's had seen wrong with Carson was gone and he was beginning to gain weight. One of the best pieces of advice I ever got about motherhood was from my own mother. She said, "The first 4 months are the most self-LESS of your life." I thought then that she meant it would all get easier, but I think now, she really meant that those are the months you FEEL it more because of the transition to self-LESS-ness and motherhood. The other great piece of advice she gave me, "This too shall pass!" :)
I tell you this in hopes of you being able to relate. Maybe it's not with school and marriage and pregnancy and motherhood, but maybe there were other things in your life, GOOD things, GREAT things, and sometimes tough things that you can remember going thru. It's not always the bad things that cause us to get wrapped up in life. There are those seasons...I bet you already know them, and if you don't, you will probably get to know them at some point. You know, those "dry" seasons, the desserts. Desserts don't have to just be when things are bad or desolate, it can be that life is just dry. Maybe you feel unappreciated, unused, unseen.
I always wanted to be a wife and a mother - and by the time I was 30, I had been married 10 years and had 3 children. I felt so blessed!! I was living the life I'd always dreamt of. I was VERY involved in church, had a devoted husband and 3 amazing kids - and we were all healthy! So, now what? As fulfilling of a life as I was living, and it was fulfilling, I still had the "dry" seasons. The seasons that I began to feel unappreciated, or like I didn't really matter. I felt bad because, although I absolutely loved being a wife and mother, I felt there was something else on the inside of me. There was so much I want to do! I was fine to postpone those dreams for now, but would I ever get a chance to pursue them?
Is that just me? Am I alone? I daresay, no!
I don't believe we will walk desert-free until we are in the presence of Jesus. But I've come to realize, it's ok. :) His presence here on earth can help us through those times. At least now, I am able to recognize those dry seasons in my life and instead of trying to get through them alone, or beat myself up because of them, or listen to the lies that inevitably come, I involve my husband, my friends, my family...whatever it takes, and I allow God to navigate me though.
There is a wonderful book called Anonymous and it's written by Alicia Britt Chole. It was life-changing for me. She talks a good bit about Jesus' temptations in the desert. She refers to these seasons as a season of hiddenness. Here is a little excerpt:
"In each season of hiddenness, our sens of value is disrupted. Stripped of what others affirmed in us, we are left staring at our undecorated selves, wondering what makes us truly special.
Surely no one experienced this disruption more drastically than Jesus. He came from heaven to earth, voluntarily stripped of His glory. Yet He does not seem to question the value of His undecorated self. During His hidden year, Jesus clearly came to terms with what made him significant. Actually, that what was a Who: the God whose loves does not ebb and flow on the ever-vacillating waves of human perceptions.
What grows in anonymous seasons? An unshakable identity."
When we struggle with our own identity and purpose, when we are in dry seasons, or hiddenness, or living anonymously, as Alicia Britt Chole reminds us, "Father God is our only consisten audience. Others come and others go, but only He always sees. ...When no one else is interested in (let along impressed by) our capabilities and dreams, God is still wholeheartedly with fatherly pride shouting His love over us."
I hope and pray you realize you are not alone in this life and that you feel God's fatherly pride shouting His love over you always!
Thanks for being you~
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