Becoming an Overcomer
"Headed there now" I texted, hoping that my friend, Amanda, would respond with a message that told me she was no longer able to make it - allowing me to turn the car around and go back home.
This was my first time going to an event with my 6, soon to be 7 month old daughter. Amanda, who has a baby girl that is two weeks older than my daughter, invited me to join her at a mom's walking group that meets every Wednesday morning.
I pulled into the parking lot where I thought the group met, only to find no other moms with strollers and screaming babies around. I texted Amanda again making sure that I was in the right place. A few minutes later she told me that she had given me the wrong place to meet the group.
As I looked up on my phone GPS the location that the mom group actually did meet at I saw that it was 15 minutes away. "Yes!" I thought, "another way to get out of this!"
I texted Amanda back and told her that I was 15 minutes away, and that I would just go home and maybe catch up with her another time. And of course I received a phone call back saying that she knew exactly where I was, and that the actual meeting place was just a block away at the secondary location instead of the main center 15 minutes away. She told me that she was sticking behind the group waiting for me.
So, I got back in my car, turned it around, and drove the 3 minutes to where I saw Amanda, and a handful of other moms surrounded by a swarm of kiddos, waiting for me with smiles on their faces.
*deep breath in. "Don't cry, Mindi, don't cry. Please Junie, please sleep in the stroller the entire time." breathe out.*
And I open up the car door.
Ever since my daughter, Juniper, was born I have barely been able to leave the house without second-guessing myself. I have had several trips to Costco and Babies-R-Us that have left me in tears, and spent so many days frustrated with myself because I just want to get out of the house but anxiety hangs over me and it's crippling.
And in those dark moments I tell myself that its just me who is going through this, but momma - I know we all struggle with this to some extent. Whether you're a new mom like me, whether you've just added your third child and are questioning if you can handle this again, whether your kiddo has special needs, or whether your baby just had a screaming fit in the middle of an Olive Garden.
Anxiety overcomes us.
This anxiety has started to rule over my life as if anxiety was the one that made me in the first place. I felt that maybe I had been destined to be a ball of nerves that could explode at any second.
But sisters, we know that our identities are not found in what plagues us, but our identities are found in the One who did create us, God our Father.
I'm learning that some vital steps toward freeing myself of anxiety is to start at square one and learn about who our Creator is, because when we begin to know more and more about our Creator, we learn about who God made us to be, who God says we are. Not who God says that we will be someday or who we will be when we accomplish some task or who we will be when we go to this new place, God tells us who we ARE, today and every day. For 1 Peter 2:9-10 reminds us this:
"But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy."
And praise God that He has given us mercy, for through the death of Jesus on the cross, He has paid our debt to sin. So God no longer sees us through the lens of our sin, but through the lens of Jesus Christ our Savior.
And when the tomb was empty and Jesus was getting ready to ascend to be with the Father, He said something so important in John 16:7 that we must remember:
“I didn’t tell you this earlier because I was with you every day. But now I am on my way to the One who sent me ... So let me say it again, this truth: It’s better for you that I leave. If I don’t leave, the Friend won’t come. But if I go, I’ll send him to you." MSG
And because Jesus has left us with that Friend, the Holy Spirit, we have the same power as Jesus that is through the Holy Spirit and we are alive in Christ - "The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, He will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you." Romans 8:11 NLT
Don't you see, momma? We have everything that we need in Christ to be able to conquer our anxiety. God has equipped us with every good thing, and we just need to believe in Him, in that power. We need to know His character and understand that since we have been made in God's image, than we too have those same characteristics within us.
We need to be rooted in The Word, because lets face it, we can't grow where we haven't sown. So plant yourselves deep into the Word of God, because it is there where you will begin to find your courage and your strength.
Speak His Words over your life. I am learning that when I start to feel panicky, it helps to speak a verse over myself that I am memorizing. Put a verse on your kiddos changing table and speak it over yourself and your little one while changing their diaper. Sometimes just speaking a verse over yourself can reset your thoughts and give your courage to go for a walk outside, go to the grocery store, or go to that family birthday party that you have been staring at on your refrigerator calendar for a month.
Give yourself grace, just as Christ has given us an abundance of grace. Sometimes we are going to have a hard day, maybe going to that moms group was too much for one morning and you ended up sitting in your car, its okay, you tried. For 2 Corinthians 4:16 says, "So we're not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without His unfolding grace." MSG
AMEN! That verse uplifts me so much. Each day God is making us new. It'll get easier and one day, and maybe eventually you will be the first one there at that moms group :)
Share what you are going through with people that you feel comfortable with. Whether its your husband, sister, mom, pastor, best friend, counselor, it does help for some key people in your life to know what you are struggling with so that they can understand how to best support you and give you the patience and grace that you need in order to take baby steps to getting back out of the house an into your normal swing of things as a momma. I pray so much that if you do not have a person that you feel comfortable to share with at this moment, that God would bring someone into your life.
And finally, please know that support from doctors are helpful if you would like that or need that kind of support. Praise God that He has given us people and medicine to help in situations like these. There is no shame in struggling with postpartum anxiety or postpartum depression and in some cases for some people, medication can do wonders for your mental health. And for me, a little medication and a whole lot of learning who I am in Christ has made all of the difference.
So, back to the beginning. My mom's walking group. It ended up being so much fun, and I think I will be returning next week. Of course I'm hesitant, I know that it takes a bit out of me to leave the house in the morning, but I know that being in community is so good for me. And I share this story to tell you that, that particular morning, I was falling apart, I felt like the world was falling apart and that I would never be able to go out in public again. But praise God, He gave me the courage to get out of the car, and I had fun. I had FUN!
Baby steps, mommas. Lets take baby steps together.
Lets OVERCOME anxiety.