I was in a spiritual wasteland for over a year after Meredith was born.
My beliefs never changed – I always loved and trusted God – but I stopped putting the effort into the relationship. As a result I experienced a lot of anxiety and frustration.
I have mentioned before that right around the time Meredith was born the church I had attended since high school (and that David’s family had been at for 25+ years) closed down. I never mentioned the reason, but I will now: the pastor, who we thought of as a very good friend, had systematically alienated and manipulated the members, obtained sole financial control without accountability, and then stole or took all the (tithed) money for his own personal use, quit, and moved away.
It was hard.
I had a new baby, I was full of anxiety, and my second family was scattered. I was lost in the bubble of new parenthood and when it was time to emerge there was no community of faith to welcome me or support me.
I’m not blaming the sad state of my faith on anyone else but myself, but I floundered for a long time after that. I let myself get caught up in the demands of balancing work and parenthood and hobbies and I neglected God. David and I visited a whole slew of new churches and several times we thought we’d found the one where we would settle down at and commit to, only to feel something not quite right after a few months.
In the meantime I wasn’t doing much on my own. Meredith’s birth, while in some aspects reviving my prayer life (Dear God, please keep her safe, healthy, and happy…) in other ways distracted me even more from my faith. At times I felt (and feel) that I was (am) in danger of making her (and her safety, health, and happiness) my god. I feel like if I lost her, I couldn’t survive – and that’s how I want to feel about God.
For a long time I didn’t read the Bible. I didn’t even pray every day. In general I always try to live out the values that I believe in, and that’s good, but it’s not good enough for my soul.
For awhile now we’ve been attending a church that is starting to feel like home. It’s a church plant that meets in a temporary place, which we originally didn’t want because of our past experience, but it feels like a family. We starting attending a small group for young families and made some immediate connections. Next month we will officially join and have Meredith baptized. This is helping.
But my turning point came on our trip to Kansas last October. I was talking to my college friend Ellen about the struggles of daily life – even though our day to day looks much different we always seem to struggle with the same things – and she talked about finally coming to the realization that she wasn’t going to be able to fix everything and how she was learning to give things (and people) over to God and just pray.
I saw that I was trying to do it all. But I can’t. And I needed to release that burden.
So I forced myself to start a daily devotional time. It wasn’t easy. My alarm goes off at 4:30am now. Originally I thought there was no way I could get up any earlier than I absolutely had to, but a funny thing happened. I actually look forward to getting up that early. It is the only time during the week, ever, that I get to be alone in a quiet house. I drink coffee, and I sit in the peaceful room I call the library, and I read. I have been following #shereadstruth (I love it, but one day I may branch out). I read the daily verses and then I write down one that pops out at me and I journal my thoughts.
It has been amazing. I am nicer to my husband now (I think). Bad days don’t affect me like they used to. I have more joy.
I’m not saying I’m doing everything right. I just know that this is a good thing.
Ironically today is the first day in months that I haven’t been able to do my morning devotion due to ragey toddler circumstances. God grant me serenity…