Branded - Found and Freed in a Wild World
I lost my way for a long time.
About 3 years after my son was born, maybe a little longer.
I left my career to stay at home, a blessing to be sure. But, all at once I had this little human that I was responsible for, a marriage that morphed into a full-fledged family, and a new life in the span of 12 hours. As I labored, my husband and I grew up.
Too fast, and not fast enough — all at the same time.
Drowning in hormones and the recovery of a tough birth, I experienced the identity crisis that had been chasing me my entire adult life.
I’m lucky, really. I’ve always had someone, someone has always stood the gap for me. Being young when my parents split, there were grandmothers and aunts and a stepmom that shaped who I was as a woman. I’ve never been without a guide or a protective wing. But I still struggled. I struggled with identifying with my family, with my friends. I struggled to belong to anyone or anything.
In the tumult, I found Jesus. And while He filled a lot of holes in my heart and mended many of the cracks; I still didn’t quite understand.
I was a believer, sure, but where did I fit in?
And then marriage, and then kids….
Was I my husbands? Was I my parents? Was I my kids? Did I have any right to claim family in any of these instances? Where did I belong?
These questions might seem silly to some, but if you’ve ever struggled with belonging, then you’ll feel right at home within my crisis. It’s as if I was a walking, vibrating, sandcastle. The winds and waves of every day threatened me, and so far I’d held up nicely.
But the storm of becoming a mother, myself, made landfall, and I collapsed.
Making it out of bed only to care for my newborn and lay on my family room floor, I was nothing but shell. I couldn’t sleep, I ate terribly, and I felt and cared so much with nowhere to place it.
It goes by many names. Generalized anxiety disorder, postpartum depression, panic, full mental breakdown, whatever you want to call it; it was all of those things and more. It felt like I was responsible for and incapable of everything. All at once. My body physically hurt and my brain swam and spiraled about with everything that could possibly go wrong at every minute. I was too full of worry to fit anything else, but at the same time, I was so desperately empty. It was as if I was living with my body turned inside out. Every nerve exposed to the dangers of this wild world. Every minute I was just waiting for something that would cause me pain.
That’s what depression and anxiety felt like to me; like everything was broken.
The meds helped.
They cleared the fog, removed the 400-pound elephant that sat on my chest, released my body from the suffocating imbalance it was experiencing so that I could lift my head. I’m so thankful for meds. I’m so grateful for doctors that listen, best friends that call out our pain, and husbands that don’t give up.
I’m even more so thankful for a Savior that doesn’t just remove pain and fix brokenness, but uses it to build and grow; to strengthen and prepare.
Meds, however helpful, would not solve the problem that still remained. That had always existed. I needed a place to belong.
I wish I had the perfect 5 step plan to find belonging, but I don’t. It’s a winding path that looks different for everyone. I know that it took time. It took honesty. And it took scripture.
When I finally lifted my eyes off of my own self-service, there He was. Waiting, as He always is.
Soft-eyed, and soft-palmed; He lifted me and branded my heart with His name.
Here was my place. Here, in Him, I find belonging.
It feels whole. It feels mended, and full of good things, and strong, and healthy. It feels like full breaths of fresh air.
And it also feels like my body is turned inside out. Every nerve exposed to the dangers of this wild world...
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