So. I mulled it over for a day, and the Lord very quickly gave me something to speak about. So I said yes to this first-time-to-ever-speak-in-front-of-people-with-a-mic situation.
Our event was called BRAVE. And we had four women speak briefly on what it means to be brave in their current stage of life. All four women were in different life situations (fresh out of high school, blended family, new grandparent). My stage is: married with a bunch of kids. Aaaand, here's what I had to say:
When I was 7 months out of high school, at the tender age of 18, I married Toby. Brave was moving away from the familiar and comfort of home to be an air force wife in a brand new town 8 hours away. Brave was navigating a new marriage when I wanted to go back home to where my family lived. I even sometimes wondered if we made a mistake. Instead, I stayed and pressed on and we grew into adulthood together. That was over 16 years ago.
I started going to church with a new friend during Toby’s first deployment. I came to know the Lord. And Brave was asking him to come to church with me, repeatedly, even though he often said, “probably not.” Eventually, he started saying yes on occasion. Soon, we were baptized together. And today, we are living proof that the Lord works in the hearts of those who are unsure of Him. If this is your story, hold on, married friends, there is hope.
Three years into marriage, we had our first baby. I was 20. Brave was starting a family without a support system, like our parents and grandparents. And super bravery was getting pregnant again eight short months after the first one was born! If you're in the trenches of tiny ones in motherhood, hang on dear mommas, you can do this.
Fast forward to 5 1/2 years ago. We had four boys by now, the baby was about 10 months old and we were gearing up to move here, to Odessa. I suddenly started struggling like I never had before. Postpartum depression hit me for the first time. We moved about two months later, and I found out I was pregnant AGAIN two weeks after we got here and we were both surprised because we had decided we were done growing our family! The postpartum then became prenatal depression, a term I never heard before. I struggled the whole pregnancy, even after he was born. When he was two, I felt the fog lifting a little. THEN, because I’m fertile myrtle, I became pregnant with another surprise baby. (and yes, I DO know how that happens). This time, the prenatal depression actually kept me in bed most of my pregnancy. Brave was telling my husband and kids that I cannot do life. I cannot cook, or clean, or grocery shop. I can’t human, I can’t function. Brave was letting go of an ideal I created in my mind of what I should be doing day in and day out. Brave was letting my family help me. And sometimes, brave was simply getting out of bed.
About six months ago, my eyes were opened to something I had been in denial about: I was still struggling with postpartum depression. I had been wondering if running away alone would be best for my family. I wondered if I was damaging my kids because I still wasn't functioning well in day to day life. Brave for me, was calling a doctor and seeking medical advice, saying out loud that I needed help. If this is your story, sweet mommas, you are not alone. There is hope.
Over a year ago, the Lord asked me to be BRAVE and step out of my comfortable, introverted bubble and seek a partner to start a women’s Bible study group with. That partner was Jessica Phillips. And we’ve been going non-stop ever since that day. And right now, I am in a season where God is silent. He is not giving me direction. He is not giving me a next step. He’s just not speaking to me. And I believe it’s because my “next step” is actually to stay exactly where I am: to keep co-leading SheTribe, to simply be with my family this summer, to remain just where I am in this season of life. Brave is having faith, that though we live in a fast-paced, what’s-next, kind of world, I am to keep that faith and trust that the Lord is there always, and has not left me. He is simply asking me to be still and stay the course, be faithful to him. He’s asking me to keep going. If this is your story, dear ones, be brave where you are, remain faithful, and keep going.
This is (a portion of) my BRAVE story. It's so important to tell our stories, to say, "see? I overcame. There is hope. The Lord never left me, He carried me. He is good. He is faithful." Please, never be afraid to tell your story, sweet ones. Never.