There has been a struggle for me off and on throughout this past year. It is not the parenting journey I mentioned the other day, but rather a deep and personal insecurity that just seemed to surface out of nowhere over the past eight months or so. It has to do with feeling alone, questioning my significance, having to truly come face to face with the realization that the love Jesus has for me is ALL that I need to affirm me. I am pretty sure that most of these rejection issues stem from things I never dealt with as a little girl in friendships, or as a teenager in relationships, and while I'm not 100 % sure why they are coming to the forefront now, I know that the Lord will continuously bring things that are not of Him out of me and into the light in order to rid them from my life that I might have my mind and my heart renewed to see things the way he does. I also want to say, these feelings are not the fault of anyone around me, I have an amazing husband, an awesome family and support system and wonderful friends. I only know that the feeling of loneliness can either drag you down into a lifeless, hopeless pit, or it can force you to look up, to realize that the only hope of fulfillment, life and hope is through Jesus, and it can inspire you to be more intentional in the way you show His love to others, that they might not experience hopelessness in their lives. While I don't feel quite ready to share more here yet, as I feel there are still things being worked out in my heart, I do want to share one thing that has helped me tremendously when battling my way out of this deep, dark place.
Most of the war of loneliness or rejection takes place in the mind. It is a very inward focus, one that pities itself and chooses to look for the moments when you were rejected, rather than the moments that you were chosen. The only way that I can get out of the terrible vortex of these thoughts is to take my eyes off of myself. That effort may sound simple enough, but it takes all the strength-you-don't-have-in -the-world to accomplish. But praise Jesus "In my weakness He is strong." Once my eyes are up and off myself really all I need to do is look around, even just at my immediate surroundings. So. Many. Blessings. Reminders of His goodness. Reminders of the love in my life. I took a few photos today of the first couple things I could think of to prove this point.
Sitting on my buffet are a pumpkin and a vase of fall loveliness. The pumpkin is the one Drew picked on his first school field trip. Drew. That the Lord would bless me with a child so early in my twenties and see me fit to be his mother... The vase itself is one MY HUSBAND-who is the most wonderful man in the world-gave me flowers in early in our marriage. I spray painted it white for my sister-in-laws bridal shower. And she and her husband just moved back here. More family in the area? SUCH a blessing! I have loved getting to do ordinary life with them now. In the vase are white flowers that are left from Jaden's first birthday party and red leaves I cut from the field where I took his one year old photos yesterday. Jaden. His sweet spirit. The way he needs me. Oh my goodness I love my baby boy. That little stand the vase is sitting on was from my mom from Pottery Barn. My Mom... oh my goodness I don't know how people survive without their moms close by.
I look on the counter. Rosemary Parmesan Popcorn. (Recipe coming soon!) I made it for lunch, the boys ate it out of their cute little popcorn bowls while watching Jungle Book. But I remember being given those popcorn bowls as a wedding gift by one of my sister's friends who dropped by that morning. I opened it while I was still getting my hair done. My best friend was doing my hair. Ashly. She has been in my life since I can remember. She has three little boys now, too. And we have been through so many ups downs and crazies of life that our friendship is solidified to what feels like an unshakeable point.
This secretary desk. I just recently switched out the hardware on it. Besides the fun memories of going to Home Depot as a family the night we got the hardware (including getting separated from Shaun and not having a phone and having to get his name called over the inter-com to come to customer service in order to find each other again) this desk is from my Mommom, given to her by my Poppop. That is so special to me. The old pretzel tin and the orange cove crate came from Shaun's parents' farm. Love bringing pieces of his heritage into our home. That Peter Pan book is from my sister. Oh, my sister... I will never ever take her for granted... I miss her so bad now that she's moved away. There is nothing in the world like a sister. And then her fiance, Nate... Beyond thrilled that she has found such a perfect match for her.... That old camera was my Poppop's too... I wish my boys could have known him, but I see some of his qualities in the way Drew is so particular about everything.
Ten bags of apples in our basement, waiting to be made into applesauce next week. The tart-sweet smell that fills the air from them... natural beauty made by the Creator. I see Isaiah standing on his tiptoes at the apple bins as we filled up baskets the other night... "Daddy is this a bruisy apple? Is this one ok? Is this one a good apple?" he would ask before putting each apple into the basket. Isaiah. Oh my goodness the joy and smiles he brings into my heart.
In the living room, on top of the tv cabinet. That squashy gray-green pumpkin... picking it out at the amish stand with all three boys along with me on the adventure. Making friends with the amish girl who was managing the stand... asking her questions about her children, that "kiss-from-heaven" feel of a divine appointment from God when two strangers run into each other and both leave feeling encouraged. A crate full of lavender that we used at Mary's shower. Mary. My brother. They are husband and wife! And I am so proud of them, so thankful for them, and have such a soft spot in my heart when I think of them. That photo of Shaun and I when we were just engaged. The amazing journey marriage has been so far, realizing that I am not even quite sure who that girl in the picture was for all the ways I've grown since then.
But then there's more. I don't want to stop at just those few photos from my house. If I took a picture out my front door you would be able to see my brother and sister in law's house. Steph. I could not have chosen a better wife for my brother in law, or a better friend for me if I had searched the whole earth myself. So thankful for her profound, inspirational, understanding influence in my life. Just minutes down the road further is my parents house. My mom & dad. The amazing memories they created for me as a child, the way they believed in me to do anything. I am so thankful for them. But I can't stop at my parents, because my in-laws!!! They are amazing. Every tuesday night they open their home and bless us all with a wonderful meal, but even more so, they bless us with the loving family that they are.
Thankfulness and gratitude are contagious. Once I finally get started, I can hardly stop. It is like a wellspring of life comes flowing up from within, and I can see clearly again. Funny too, I shared pictures of things, but the things are only special because of the people and the memories behind them. Even if the things all went away the people and the memories are what matter.
But I can't stop even there. Because even if I had no things, no people, no memories around me to start this flow of gratitude from my soul, when I look up, I see the cross. I see the cross, and I see the one my heart loves more than any other, hanging there, dying for me, giving his last breath to free me from the penalty for my sin. I see His eyes, they are looking straight into mine, and they are saying He did this for me. And the oceans of love contained in His gaze are enough to drop me to my knees sobbing at the great price He paid for me, the great worth He sees in me. I cannot even see rejection in the lens of His love. It has been chased a thousand times a thousand miles away. Because He says that I am chosen. And He is faithful and true, and He will never leave me or forsake me.
And so what started as a simple "taking stock" of my blessings in order to re-focus has left me tear streaked, humbled, and grateful beyond measure.