My friend Lee read my blog titled "BE," and suggested I join a book group/Bible study group that met online. Since I'm off work recovering from a partial hysterectomy and am not suppose to be doing a lot which goes against the very grain of who I am, I thought this was a wise suggestion. The book is Behind Those Eye. As I began reading the book, I was struck by its simplicity and lack of depth, but knew it would hit a lot of women between the eyes. It's in the simpleness and keeping things straightforward that people can relate on whatever level they need to. Chapter 2 on perfection is something I had to deal with a while back. My mother was and is a perfectionist. You can look at her and see it. Every hair beautifully laid in place. Her clothes always tasteful. Her makeup becoming, and she always looked calm, cool and collected on the outside. My daddy describes his mother in a similar fashion. He said my grandmother looked smoothe and calm on the surface, but she was paddling like the dickens below. As for me, I didn't get that gene. I can't even appear to be perfect or to be in control. I was diagnosed as being ADHD in junior high before it was the thing to diagnose a kid with and since then trying to control an imperfect, impetuous body was more than a full-time job. My body didn't cooperate when my husband and I wanted to start a family, and if I can't control the internal workings of my own body, I am under no illusion that I could be controlled enough to even strive for perfection. SO, I strive to do my best for His good and His gain, and that has made all the difference in the world.
Chapter 3 is titled Ms Confidence. I really enjoyed page 52 showing the difference between a strong woman and a woman of strength. Since I was in high school, maybe even junior high, I chose Phillipians 4:13, as my life verse. I have always been confident -- consider it part of my personality, my upbringing where my parents encouraged me and praised me when I tried my best, my temperament, etc. I know where my strength comes from and where my value comes from thanks to my godly upbringing. I didn't seek nor needed the approval of my peers as much as others. If a group of kids were doing things I didn't like, I'd go find another group to join. Both of my parents gave me attention and showed me God's love. I was and am very blessed.
Chapter 4 is title Ms Happiness. When my husband and I were filling out paperwork and completing our Dear Birth Parent letters during the adoption processes to adopt our two children, I put that my favorite sound is the sound of laughter. And when my kids get to belly laughing, it is infectious, and I can't help but smile and laugh too. But it never fails before it's all said and done and the evening is over someone has hit someone or there's been an accident and the laughter has turned to tears. Happiness is fleeting and it's circumstantial. Joy, on the other hand, has depth and longevity because its source never changes and never fails.
When I see a Ms Happiness, the cynic in me wonders, "What kind of drugs is she on? It must be the good stuff." hee,hee,hee. I was glad to read the author dispelling society's lies such as, "You can make yourself happy," "someone you love can make you happy," and "something you have or do can make you happy." In all honesty, I am typically a happy, joyful, optimistic person who can find humor in most things. Finding humor is something I learned from my family, and it has served me well. But there was a time I battled depression.
After six months of failed fertility treatments, a failed adoption, and constantly searching for what God had been promising me, I felt like God wasn't listening. Have you ever heard the saying, "You can't see the forest for the trees"? That is where I was. In March of 2000, I went to a women's retreat and listened to Debby Stuart say, "If you are grasping so hard to the things that you think are good, then you can't have your hands open palms up in order to receive God's best."
Shortly after that weekend, my mom was led to have 7 godly women praying for me and my husband, the baby we were to adopt and the birth family. From March on, the Holy Spirit would lay things on my heart to pray for, and I would tell my mom, and she would send letters to the Praying 7 (we kept a set of those letters for my daughter). We were all praying very specifically, and God was working, but I just couldn't see it because I was in the middle of it. In August of 2000, my company moved me three hours away to do some training for about three months, so I was removed from my husband, friends and church, and that is when I hit rock bottom. I remember calling my mom at 10 PM and because she is a night owl, I knew she would be awake. I was bawling, crying, weeping, angry, mad, etc. "How can He expect me to call Him Father when He won't even answer my prayers. He knows that I want to be in His will, but He isn't showing me. I feel like I'm standing in the pitch dark on top of a post, and He's telling me to move to the next post, but I can't see it. He's telling me to take the next step and the post will be there and that if I don't move from the post on which I stand it will fall into the abyss. I throw a rock and never hear it hit bottom, so I put one foot out and feel nothing, but when I put my weight down, the next post appears." My mom, ever the calm one, listened to me rant and rave about how angry I was at God, and then she asked, "Kristy, are you having your quiet time?"
My mom tends to get to the heart of the matter. I asked her if she hadn't been listening. I wasn't talking to God. She informed me that a quiet time is when God talks to me. I knew that, but at that point I didn't care. I told her I hadn't brought my Bible. She assured me the good Gideons had left a Bible in my night stand. She instructed me to get up in the morning and have a quiet time, eat a good breakfast and healthy lunch and supper, take a vitamin and go work out at the gym. One thing I have learned is to listen to my parents, so the next morning, I begrudgingly opened the Gideon Bible to the Proverbs of the day and the first verse I read hit me between the eyes. It was Proverbs 29:1 talking about a stiff-necked fool...real subtle God, real subtle. I did what my momma told me to do, and I began feeling better, and began looking forward to the future which included going to an adoption agency orientation at the end of September of 2000. We were matched in four weeks, met the birth parents two weeks after that, and Erin was due at the end of December 2000, but wasn't born until January 5, 2001. To show you how awesome God is, my daughter was conceived and the Praying 7 began praying for her the week she was conceived. My sister says Erin was prayed into life.
Bottom line, I was so deep in the forest trying to find God's will for my life, searching for the baby He had chosen for us that I had taken my eyes off God himself. Depression is often spoken of as darkness. Could it be that when we allow anything to eclipse our vision of the Son the shadow that is cast takes away the joy we can feel when we are in the Light? You turn my wailing to dancing. Trading ashes for beauty.
Last year, my mom was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. She underwent a lumpectomy, chemo and radiation, and to say that last year was a tough year would be a gross understatement. There were times when each of us would hit the wall and cry. It's okay to be sad, to grieve, to cry. It's healthy. It's cleansing. It's purifying. Fortunately, when one of use hit the wall, the others were able to keep going and encouraging. During each of my mom's chemo treatments, we planned a surprise. She finally caught on by the third go around. We wanted to give her something to anticipate to offset the dread. We had a tea party, one of her prior students read a poem I wrote about defeating round one of chemo, my sister made her a quilt with the grandkids pictures on it, etc. The very last chemo treatment, we were looking for a singing quartet to go and sing "Victory in Jesus" or something along those lines, but I couldn't find one we could afford. I called my worship pastor and he said he could get it lined up. My sister and I had never asked for permission to do any of the other things we had done, but we had gotten permission for the quartet. The night before my worship pastor calls saying it may be a little bigger than a quartet...there was enough for three quartets who showed up. He had put together a chorus book, scriptures to be read, and a CD of music for us to sing with. My mom finished her chemo when we were singing the words, "I sing for joy of the at the work of your hands, forever I love you, forever I stand. Nothing compares to the promise I have in you."
At the end of our singing, nurses had come up to join, patients, patients' family members were all singing about the joy at the work of God's hand. People, patients who were fighting for their lives. Nurses who saw death on a regular basis. Family members who dreaded the future may include the death of their loved one. All were singing and praising God. Putting their eyes on God and finding the joy.
PS I promise my next blog will not be this long. I'm just catching up.