Hello cyber world! After yet another break, I’m back. I won’t apologize for the break because in that time I had a sweet little baby boy. J is perfect and oh-so snuggly and I used the time off to soak in as many of those snuggles as possible. I also had to learn to balance my attentions between J and his older sister, who turned two (*GASP* whaaaaat?!) this month. Which leads me to my topic for this post: GRACE.
Why grace? Let me back up a little for a minute. I’ve always known that I’m terrible at taking care of myself, especially when it comes to asking for help. Never has that been more evident than in the months following the birth of our firstborn. Don’t get me wrong, I adore her. But there were selfish parts of me that resented that I could no longer live up to certain standards, standards that I set for myself. The house never seemed clean enough, meals were often rushed and bland, my weight and stress levels soared, and I mourned the loss of sleep and privacy. I now know that I was battling some mild postpartum depression, but at the time I felt completely buried under all the responsibilities and demands on my time, most of which was my own fault owing to my habit of over-commitment. When a couple of rather serious family issues emerged on top of all of my self-induced stress…well, I had to seek outside help. I shared about that experience in a previous post.
I struggled mightily in that first year, and that was only after having one child. When I found out I was pregnant with our second tiny human, I knew I needed to strategize some coping mechanisms to prepare for the added stress. I thought about schedules for cleaning, methods for organizing, programs for support, etc. I raced to take a couple more classes for my Masters so I wouldn’t fall behind. I shopped consignment sales for what few baby supplies we needed, and even spent a month with family just enjoying some quality time and support.
As the time drew near and I prayed over my mental stability, I realized that no matter how much planning and preparation I did, it all came down to one thing.
I needed to be prepared to throw every plan out the window. I needed to be willing to ask for help. I needed to allow myself time to adjust and heal. I needed to show myself some grace.
When the New Year rang in, I determined that a key component of this revelation lay in setting realistic expectations for myself. For me, this meant not setting any New Year’s resolutions. Well, ok, I set one – to infuse my life and my relationships with grace. Grace would be the word for 2017. I prayed and sincerely asked God to help me to have more grace, for myself and for everyone around me. I also asked for help in accepting grace. For me, accepting grace from others (even God) is sometimes just as hard as showing grace to others. I knew that it wouldn’t be easy for me, but I also knew that if I prayed about it continually, God would bless and multiply the effort.
So far this year God has moved in the smallest but most amazing ways. When I say small, I don’t mean to minimize His work but to point out that there have been some seemingly insignificant blessings that have meant the world to me. For example, J came two days early and was bigger and even healthier than his sister had been at birth. He eats very well and is already smiling at us at only two months old. He had a brief bout of colic, but God provided healing and now J keeps a pretty consistent schedule (although he is still very clingy, but this Mommy doesn’t mind the extra snuggles. That’s what baby carriers/wraps are for!).
After J was born, over a dozen other families from our church and community provided meals for us. We had family members visit and help out around the house. Friends bought us mounds of diapers and showered us with gifts. We’ve been so blessed, I can’t keep up with the thank-you notes!
God has also helped me to find ways to fulfill desires I didn’t even know I had. I’ve discovered reading while breastfeeding and as a result I’m blazing through books each week. I’ve already read more books in the past ten weeks than I did in the entirety of 2016! I’ve also found a way to go swimming every week, which helps me relax and build physical strength at the same time (I’ve always loved swimming!).
Perhaps the most important area in which I’ve witnessed the grace of God recently is in my marriage. Since having J I’ve had the flu, mastitis, and food poisoning (twice in one week!). My husband has shouldered so much of the burden of this transition period, and as a result I am able to find peace in his patient love. I get to watch him grow as a Daddy and lean on him as my teammate and best friend. He has shown me the true meaning of grace in the past few weeks. He may not realize it, but when he loves me so extravagantly, he points me right back to God. And I’m so, so, SO thankful for him.
So I didn’t set any resolutions this year, but I have seen more progress, joy, and peace than I could have imagined. All because of God’s grace. I’m amazed, humbled, and excited to see what the rest of the year has in store. It won’t all be warm fuzzies and sunshine. But these first ten weeks or so have shown me that I can absolutely depend on the grace of God. Now to learn how to share it with everyone around me…
Hapless but hopeful,