Those Tough Days…

First there was that one baby.

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I was so anxious. I was 1200 miles from my family and anyone I could call a friend for more than 6 months. I was newly married to man it’s fair to say I barely knew. All day, all I had to do was watch that baby. Feed him, change him, love him. Husband didn’t even expect dinner on the table when he got home. Could it have really been that hard? But I remember those feelings… so many wonderful ones- so many moments with the sweet little baby I had created with my body and my new little precious family. But there were also those awful ones. I’m drowning here. It’s too much work. I don’t have any friends here, and all the friends I have at home have absolutely no idea what its like to have a baby, let alone be married.

Then there was a deployment.

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A move to MN back in with my parents. And the news of another baby neither of us were remotely ready for. What now? I remember just white knuckling it through the deployment. I was finally surrounded by my family and friends, but all I wanted to do was go back to that 1000 square foot mini-home in Harker Heights, Texas with my baby and my husband.

Eventually we did. And had that other baby.

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And the absolute only thing I ever had to do was watch those sweet boys. Feed them, change them, love them. Husband definitely didn’t expect dinner on the table. But it was so overwhelming. And nobody understood. And I was scared I was forever screwing up these poor innocent children who didn’t deserve a mother who felt like despite years of babysitting and nannying had absolutely no idea what she was doing.

Then we moved to Rochester, NY.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI think the stain on Ruben’s shirt is a great indication of my life at this point… =)

There I was living in a hotel room with a newly 2 year old and a baby of 14 months. No friends. No family. All I had to do all day in that hotel room was watch those babies. Feed them, change them, love them. But I remember depression overcoming my life. I’ll never forget the day my very new friend Erin and I were supposed to meet at the gym. I called her in tears just saying “I can’t come. I just can’t make it out the door” Her response was “Yes you can. You have to come!” She had no idea how badly I needed her to force me out of the house- that time and many more. My years in Rochester were so wonderful- I connected with so many women who will always have a very special place in my heart. But parallel to all those great feelings, were my feelings of doubt. Why do they even like me? I couldn’t handle my busy schedule. I had too many friends, too many activities. I would find myself at 9:55 AM crying on my computer typing out how I wasn’t going to make the 10:00 AM Children’s Museum playdate today because “I wasn’t feeling well.” Not exactly a lie. I felt like a failure. Why is it so hard for me to just wake up and be happy? Why are so many days filled with despair and struggle? I’ve always wrestled back and forth with that awful gnawing feeling of self pity. I have zero right to pity myself. I know that I am luckier than 99% of the world. I have never truly wanted for anything. Yet I still can’t be fully happy.

Today I’m in Minnesota. My home state. Where I dreamt all my problems would dissipate.

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I’ve spent my whole morning in anguish over my life. I should be playing with my kids. No, I should be working for ShopYourWay. No, I should be exercising. No, I should be cleaning my house. No, I should be taking the boys out somewhere to socialize with other kids. No, I should be calling my husband. No, I should be doing my devotions. No, I should be menu planning so my kids can eat healthier… does the list ever end? The anxiety starts in the pit of my stomach and rises up, up, up, until it spills out through my tears. Why can’t I do anything right?

I feel like my life and schedule has multiplied tenfold since that day I brought that first baby home. So why does it feel the same? In this moment, in my desire to do it all- to accomplish everything I want to in a day- I would give anything for one day back in any of my previous situations. They were a breeze. Why was I so stressed out? I can’t for the life of me figure it out. Why with each new stage of life, and each new set of responsibilities, do I feel so completely overwhelmed- like theres no possible way I could handle any more?

Let me tell you what I’m starting to think…

It’s a lie. That I tell myself. That the devil whispers in my ear. That my life is supposed to be easy. That for some reason it’s just harder for me. Surely I must be doing something wrong.

Life isn’t supposed to be easy all the time.

God never intended for it to be.

And even though I have blessings above and beyond what I feel like I deserve, I still have hard days. And thats OK. Because life is hard. For everyone. It’s all relative. I don’t have to sit and wallow about why I get sad and overwhelmed. It’s a part of life. I just have to push through. Pretty soon I’ll be filled with worry about helping that one boy finish his science experiment due tomorrow that he just old me about, and being ready to just buy myself a yellow taxi since it seems I spend all my days chauffeuring around those young men. And I’ll long for these preschool days. The very same days I find myself cursing every so often.

What can I do to help myself enjoy more of my days? To take it all in stride- enjoy life for what it is. Messy. Sticky. Hard. Beautiful.

I have come up with a new morning mantra. Yours may be a little different, but I encourage everyone to write one. It can be religion based or not. My goal is to read this every morning, very first thing. I haven’t been able squeeze this into my daily rhythm quite yet, but in the middle of my distraught thoughts today, I remembered that sweet mantra. Those words I wrote for myself. To lift me out of the misery my feebly human brain can twist itself into. To remind myself that I have goals outside of myself and my immediate family. To take a step out of my self-centered heart, look around, and realize the world doesn’t revolve around me. Theres more to life. I want to help people. To make a difference. In order to do this, I need to have peace in my own heart. Only then can I spread that peace through my words and actions. And isn’t that where true peace and joy are found? In helping others?

So, I am encouraging all my lovely friends to join me in picking ourselves up out of any darkness we may currently be in, and spread some peace this holiday season!

This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it.

Life is a beautiful struggle- each day is a challenge that I will joyfully accept and overcome. Some days it feels like I have to strive and struggle, but my relationship with God, my husband, my kids, my family, and friends are my reward. I am also rewarded by the accomplishment of my goals- weight loss, comfortable financial position, and a joy-filled, peaceful life.

I have to renew my mind every day. Flush out the negative and breathe in the positive. I am a loved child of God. I am a perfect work in progress. I am a blessing everywhere I go. God has a wonderful plan for my life, and I don’t have to have all the answers now.

Each day I live in the present, and cherish the small moments I am blessed with. I am exactly where I need to be, doing exactly what I need to do. I live life with the love of Jesus overflowing from within me and with confidence in my worth and value to my family and the world. Through that confidence I can step out into the world and be a blessing with my money, my time, my words, and my love.

And when all else fails… try this =)

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“And I’ll praise You in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am
And every tear I’ve cried
You hold in Your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm”

– Casting Crowns

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16 thoughts on “Those Tough Days…

  1. Colleen Fien says:

    Joanna,
    Speaking the truth scares people and you my friend are very brave! I have been there. I am glad you ended with coffee and wine because I was going to suggest meds :)) Miss you, Colleen

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