a guest post by Ashley Spang
Today, my daughter turns three years old…and I have spent her whole life experiencing depression.
Although postpartum depression did make up the first six months of her life, situational depression quickly followed, stemming from trauma of a close relationship. I hadn’t ever experienced mental health issues before these events, and until fairly recently I just felt empty and meaningless.
Going through the motions of motherhood, the only thing I could place any sense of identity in, but not caring whether or not I was actually there.
I know I’m not alone here. Aside from only being known as some kid’s mom in a large season of our lives, many of us find our minds clouded by something. Women tend to feel the need to carry a lot of responsibility, scattered over several parts of our lives. I think especially in today’s society, we feel the need to have too many plates spinning in the air. It seems everyone sees when one plate crashes loudly and everything is in a hundred splintered pieces.
She turns three today, and I remember the last six months really well. Where did these years go? Where was I, anyway?
I have been thinking a lot about this recently, as so many of us try to juggle packed lives. We’re all busy, we’re all on auto-pilot, and we all wish we could have gotten something done that day that we didn’t.
And a few years later we find ourselves still there. Still making life happen but not really living life. Our kids and loved ones grow older and some days we think…where was I? We missed out because I couldn’t…keep it together, get something done, remember something, do more…
Guilt and shame ride our coattails from their diapers to their kid’s diapers. We believe we could have done better by them… in that abstract, somehow.
Have you ever had a verse, poem, or specific theme pop up over and over?
As I sat sobbing sometime after the start of the new year, a verse came to mind… which honestly rarely happens to me. In the following couple of months, we visited two different churches and within the span of a few weeks, three sermons rested on that same verse. A friend sent it in a message to me later in spring, and I used it to reassure another friend soon after.
A verse I had rarely thought about is now one I can never forget, It became something I’ve recited when my mind starts to go “there” over this messy relationship and just daily life while I wait in God’s “meanwhile.”
“The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy; I have come so that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy – there are forces trying to cloud my head and find loopholes to weave so much shame and guilt that I forget what my life’s purpose is:
To raise an inquisitive, interesting, and beautiful little girl into a strong, intelligent, and thoughtful young woman who knows she is loved and respected because that’s how her God treats her. To raise a young woman who knows Jesus and can move mountains in His name because she learned from her mama what it looks like to value and be valued by Jesus.
Satan doesn’t want that. He’s definitely out to obliterate that to pieces.
Joy Through Abundant Life in Jesus
But Jesus came so that I may have life…and not only have life, but have it to the full. Not partially, not a little bit, not sometimes, and not just maybe. To the full. Some translations say have it abundantly. Jesus came so that I, and you, can have an abundant life.
Isn’t that a fabulous promise? That’s the black and white truth I now choose to live in.
Rough days filled with guilt, shame, terrible decisions, and lost causes absolutely still exist. However, when I am having one of those days, it’s usually then that John 10:10 swoops in and pushes its way to the frontal lobe, wrapping its reassuring arms around me with that promise – I am made to have an abundant life. One frustrated lash out isn’t going to ruin lives…as long as I live in truth instead.
Living in Today’s Joy
Don’t live in that guilt that is behind all of our exhausted half smiles. Think of a woman that seems to have it all together – yep, she has something behind her smile too. Let that guilt work for Jesus instead by giving it a voice to bust through walls and show the authenticity we’re all craving.
A voice like, “me too mama. I feel terrible getting upset after the 22nd time telling my kid to keep her hands to herself too, but I choose to live in today’s joy. I choose to walk in the promise of abundant and full life because Jesus forgives my ugly moments. The bonus is that my daughter gets to see that vulnerability is okay and to ask for forgiveness for that ugly act before shame can weasel itself in.”
Don’t let the enemy steal the life Jesus provides, life to the full.
Live in today’s promise and today’s joy.
I’m Ashley and I blog over at www.GrowingSpangs.com