In September of 2006, my husband and I were blessed with the birth of our amazing daughter. I had a fairly uneventful pregnancy and delivery. She was born healthy and beautiful in every way. After a couple of days, home we went to our new life of very little sleep and a whole lot of diapers. We settled into a comfortable, but sleep-deprived, new rhythm of life with this beautiful girl that we get to call our daughter.
I can’t tell you how the darkness started to come over me. All I can recall of that time is that a couple of weeks after bringing my daughter home, what I can only describe as a dark cloud descended over my life. It was a crushing weight that had a very tight hold on me. I felt tremendous despair all day, everyday. There were tears, insomnia, and an overwhelming sense of dread. I also felt a tremendous sense of guilt. I had a beautiful and healthy child, so what did I have to be depressed about?? It didn’t help that no one that I knew could understand what I was going through, so let’s just plop some shame on top of that mountain of sadness.
My husband would call from work to check on us and I would try so hard to hold it together during that conversation, so as to not burden him, but most days I failed and collapsed into a puddle of tears. He had no idea how to handle this situation so every single day, that saint of a man would come home from work, put his arms around me and say these words, “It’s going to be OK. This isn’t your fault. You are not going to always feel this way.” Over and over and over he repeated those words to me every day and they helped me so very much during those very dark days.
During that time, my prayers were desperate and I would often ask God why this was happening to me and why couldn’t He make it stop? One day I felt a very strong pulling from Him that I needed to change my focus. I spent a very long time in silence that day and I began to pray, “Lord, just help me get through today.” Every night I would thank Him for helping me to make it through that day and the next morning I would wake up and ask Him again, just to get me through that day. I stopped questioning "why me" and started just asking for the strength to make it through that day, that one day. One day at a time.
With the help of my husband, prayer, and some fabulous anti-depressants, the fog began to lift. And little by little, I started to feel like myself again.
A couple of years later, a very close friend of mine gave birth to her second child and started to feel a heavy sadness that she did not have with her first child. She was anxious and sad and feeling terrible. She called me one day, crying uncontrollably, and I repeated the mantra that had saved me during my dark days. “It’s going to be OK. You are not always going to feel this way.” My daughter is 10 years old now and over the years, one by one, God has put women in my life that have suffered with post partum depression. And I know my purpose has been to put my arms around them and tell them that’s it’s going to be OK and it’s not their fault. It took me a while, but I have learned that I will eventually see God’s purpose in every difficult situation that I go through. Sometimes it takes a week, sometimes it takes a year or longer, but when it happens I say to myself, “OK God, I get it. Thanks for using me here.”
So, the unexpected blessings that have come out of some of the darkest days in my life are:
1. I learned that my husband can handle the most difficult situations with amazing love and grace.
2. I learned that I don’t always need to see the big picture. Sometimes I just need to ask God to help me get through that day.
3. I learned that people often don’t need you to offer advice or try to fix their situation. They just need someone to put an arm around them and tell them that it’s going to be OK.
4. God uses everything for his good, even the things that feel like they are crushing you.
As I sit here today, I am overcome with thoughts about Mary and the difficulties that she had to endure in her life and the amazing blessing that came out of it. If God can do that, what awesomeness He must have in store for us!
For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:10
Barb calls herself the old girl of the bunch. She is an observer and a comforter. If there is a hurting soul in the room, God will likely lead Barb to her. She would say that she has always felt God’s presence but didn’t know what it was until she was older. God is always chasing her through music. She feels music like a very deep emotion. A song will speak to her and can bring her to tears or fill her with immeasurable joy, or sometimes both at the same time. She listens to anything from hymns to Van Halen and all the stuff in between. Barb is married to a man she describes as the most kind and generous person she has ever known and together they parent a beautiful, joyful, loving and challenging daughter.