When you host a podcast called “What’s Your Story?” and ask women to come on each episode to be transparent about their faith journeys, sometimes God will convict you a little and might even ask you to do the same! I’m calling this week’s blog, “I can’t believe I’m telling you this” because it doesn’t highlight any of my finest moments, but it certainly highlights the faithfulness of God.
Did you know that UP TV plays Gilmore Girls episodes every afternoon from 4 – 7 PM. Did you know that you can leave most televisions on the same station for four hours before you get the “are you still watching” question? Did you know that Netflix gives you between five and twenty seconds to log out before beginning the next episode in a series? Do you want to know how I know that?
In 2016, our youngest child graduated from high school and moved away for her first year of college. Our oldest was beginning his junior year on a baseball scholarship and was being red-shirted due to recent Tommy John’s and hip surgery. For the first time in fifteen years, we did not have a child involved in some kind of competitive sport and for the first time in more than ten years, we weren’t traveling to watch them compete. I’ll never forget the first Friday night that our home was empty and I sat on the couch across from my husband’s recliner and thought, “this cannot be what this going to be like!” It was as if our lives that ran 100% on all four cylinders just came to a screeching halt. To those of you in the throes of that lifestyle, this may sound like Heaven to you, but when you realize it’s your new normal, not so much.
My husband, who is incredibly kind and attentive to me, recognized immediately that this could get ugly very quickly, so he innocently said, “what do you want to do now?” And on Saturday morning we headed to Lowe’s, bought all the painting supplies that amateurs might need and proceeded to paint and re-decorate our living room in hopes it might be a distraction. The result was that it was a bit of a distraction for a few weeks, but then that project ended and with two children in college, we didn’t have the finances to make a total home re-do our new extra-curricular activity.
As days turned in to months and the calendar changed from fall to winter, I am ashamed to admit that most afternoons consisted of changing immediately into the baggiest clothes I could find and watching as many episodes of Gilmore Girls as I could fit into the time I landed on the couch and I could expect my husband for dinner (which was usually at least two and a half). At first I had plans of cooking all of the meals we’d missed out on for 18 years because the kids didn’t like them or we were at a ball field, but I soon realized that cooking for two isn’t a lot of fun and we were just as satisfied with cold cereal or take out. Most nights we sat on opposite sides of the room watching hours of prime time television before one of us fell asleep and the other went on to bed. On the weekends, my husband filled his Saturdays with his workout, preparing to teach Life Group on Sunday and catching up at the office, which left me home alone. At first, I enjoyed having those days to do whatever I wanted, but soon I landed on the couch in front of the TV on Saturdays as well. I was falling into a very unhealthy cycle, both physically and emotionally, but I’m not sure I even recognized it at the time. I walked around day to day with a smile on my face as if everything was fine, when inside, I was losing myself a little more as each day passed.
Soon the flowers bloomed, the grass turned green and we opened the pool. I always feel that spring brings new life and the college semester ends early May, so it wasn’t long until I had my kids back under my roof. We packed a lot of family time into the summer, including an unforgettable cruise, but summers go by quickly and soon it was time for the kids to return to school. It was only a matter of time until the old habits crept back in and what I now realize was probably situational depression took over again. My life had become so enmeshed in the lives of my children that I barely even knew who I was anymore.
Out of desperation, I made a very conscious decision in January of 2018 to read the Bible through and to begin each morning with a daily devotional. I also vowed to try to at least get outside and walk on days that were warm enough to do so and to try to find activities to fill those after work hours that were so hard on me. For a while I tried shopping, which I immensely enjoyed, but eventually led to frustration due to overstuffed closets and drawers. I had always loved sports and was a Volunteer fan since my days as a student there long ago, so I began to follow the teams more closely and became interested in the back stories of the players and coaches. My love for sports even led to my discovery of podcasts (which I listened to when I walked) when I searched for Dansby Swanson and found his testimony on “That Sounds Fun” with Annie F. Downs (still one of my favorites). As I tried one thing after another, I began to rediscover the things that had once brought me joy before I was a mom and I could feel myself coming to life again. I even found lots of new things I never knew I’d love so much (like blogging and podcasting!)
I can honestly tell you that once I began to be willing to move, God began moving in my life. Christy Wright of the Business Boutique often says, “God can’t steer a parked car”. Of course, He can do anything He wants, He’s God, but you get what she’s saying. Soon, I opened my home to a weekly Bible study that has provided one of the most precious spaces for women of all ages and stages to come together to share in each other’s lives. I started a weekly prayer group in one of my schools that has ministered so much to me in the last year. It is as if a dam has broken in my life and God is flooding me with things that fill me up and allow me to minister from the overflow. And I cannot take credit for one bit of any of it. I know with everything in me that God took me through a season in the wilderness so that I would learn again to depend on him for my daily bread and would appreciate the promised land so much more.
Last Sunday, I stood with tears streaming off of my cheeks as we sang the lyrics to “Touch of Heaven” by Hillsong.
All I want is to live within Your love Be undone by who You are My desire is to know You deeper Lord I will open up again Throw my fears into the wind I am desperate for a touch of heaven
Friend, if you are in a season of life where you feel like you are losing or have totally lost yourself, don’t give up hope. It may just be time to open up again and go deeper with God. He WILL fulfill His purpose in you. Spend time with Him each day asking Him to remind you who you are. Write down dreams you still have for yourself and things you love about your life. Make the time to be intentional with your marriage and to carve out date nights on a regular basis to make sure your only connection hasn’t become your children or the day to day running of the household.
I am so grateful for every moment of busy during that season of my life and wouldn’t change a single thing. We made friends who are like family to us through those activities and had more fun than should be allowed along the way. But don’t fail to recognize that it is a season and it will come to an end. Be sure when it does that you’ve prepared for what’s next in your life. I certainly didn’t. I would also caution you to recognize those unhealthy patterns that begin to develop. When you feel yourself spending more time than normal engrossed in television, social media, unhealthy sleep patterns, or numbing yourself with food or alcohol, reach out to friends or family and ask them to help hold you accountable to some changes. You are never alone…that’s a lie the enemy sells us. Talk to someone….a friend or a professional. I am a big fan of therapy and have benefitted from great counselors several times during my life. There is absolutely no shame in seeking professional help.
I am so grateful to God for every day of my journey and anticipate what He has for the future. He’s writing your story too….no matter what season you are in. If I can help you in any way, or pray for you about something, please do not hesitate to contact me! And, if there are other topics you would like for me to explore, let me know! I want nothing more than for you to live a life full of abundance and happiness and I’d love to help.