Hold On

I looked down at my 6 lb 9 oz baby and was overcome with joy. The baby that we had prayed over and planned for was finally here. As I gazed into his blue eyes, a thought crossed my mind.

Grey newborn

“What if you accidentally drop him?”

This caused me to hug him tighter.

“What if you hug him too tight and he suffocates?”

I was paralyzed. Was I really cut out for this?

“What if the nurses mix up his chart and cause him some type of harm?”

These intrusive thoughts became my constant companions during the early days of motherhood. I spoke to my doctor, telling her how crippling this anxiety was in our day-to-day life. She shrugged it off, saying it was basically new mommy jitters.

Only, I knew it wasn’t. I had read about postpartum “baby blues” and people had told me about times they couldn’t get out of bed to even feed their babies. That was never true for me, but I know the feelings of inadequacy ring true for both.

I relented that this was just what I was going to be like as a mother. I went on family vacation and was scared that my tiny baby would literally blow off the balcony. I was afraid to let him ride the golfcart because a bug might fly into his eye and cause him to go blind. I tiptoed around the house, fearing I might knock his head off on the doorway.

All of these what-if scenarios are outlandish. I knew in my mind that these things were not really plausible, but the feeling of fight-or-flight that accompanied them were not dissuaded by reality.

When I went to my first doctor appointment when I found out I was pregnant with Harlow, I explained this fear to my new doctor.

Yall, this lady gave me my life back. I don’t think anyone finds it especially fun or fulfilling to tell anyone, let alone a complete stranger, your fears and failures. But she just took my hand and said, “I know.”

I couldn’t believe that someone actually knew anything about this war that had been raging in my mind, cutting me off from friends and loved ones. She gave me specific examples of postpartum anxiety and how we could treat it.  

I feel like then I was able to really step into the role of mother as I had envisioned it, without all of the bubble wrap. My experience with Harlow was so much more enjoyable because I had the tools I needed.

As this month is mental health awareness month, I didn’t feel that I could let it pass without offering you some hope.

See, you have experienced periods in your life where, maybe you didn’t call it depression, but you were stressed to the point that your daily life was interrupted. You felt like you weren’t enough. You felt unseen.

Your boss told you that you weren’t measuring up. Your significant other told you that you weren’t as good as their previous partner. Your kids didn’t make the honor roll. Your banker left you another message to call them back. A loved one died.

So, you tried to handle it. Isn’t that what we’re supposed to do? Solve everything in our own might? Depending on what you’re being influenced by, the answer is yes.

The problem is, the enemy is waiting right in this space to suck you in.

A few hours on TikTok or Facebook? You’re not spending that time with God.

A few hours taking a nap? You’re not spending that time with God.

A few hours working? You’re not spending that time with God.

We zone out. We overwork. We overcompensate. We push the hurt and thoughts deeper and deeper. All the while, the thoughts become louder and louder.

Maybe you haven’t experienced mental warfare. But I bet you know someone who has. Maybe you’re sitting beside them now as you scroll through this post.

The thing about mental health is that it is often cyclical. Yes, your therapy and prescriptions may have worked during one season, but now you need to find another solution.

Don’t misunderstand me. I am all for therapy and medication as needed. But I am also all about reaching up and touching the hem of His garment when I don’t have the strength to stand.

Yall know Moses had depression, too, right? Bless his heart, he was anxious. He didn’t want to lead God’s people into the promised land. In Numbers 11, he expressed his angst, saying “Did I conceive all these people? Did I give them birth? Why do you tell me to carry them in my arms as a nurse carries an infant”. He goes on to say “I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me. If this is how you are going to treat me, please go ahead and kill me – if I have found favor in your eyes – and do not let me face my own ruin.”

I feel you, Moses. All of the people you feel personally responsible for…

Here’s what I’ve learned the hard way. I am not personally responsible for all of these people. You aren’t either. Are we called to love and support and guide them? YES. But we, in our own might, are not going to be able to provide in the way that our Savior does. In reality, we are no better than the 6 lb 9 oz baby I was holding.

But that’s how God operates, yall. He takes the weak and gives them His own strength. I’ve said it before, but Halleluiah! This overwhelming love that God pours into us allows us to take our hands off the wheel and let Him take over. If He said it, it is so.

I love how 1 Peter says it. It starts out with a verse that looks great on a bumper sticker or as a meme, but the meat is in what comes next.

1 Peter 5:7-11 “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.”

You know the refrain. God is good (all the time) and all the time (God is good). But isn’t he though?

After you have suffered a little while. We want that to mean, like, a day. But you’ve probably been suffering for more than that. Maybe a year. Maybe the past 5 years. Maybe as long as you can remember.

Oh, but if you can just hold on a little longer. When Jesus steps in and says, “Enough.” When you surrender what you’ve been carrying and cast all your anxieties on Him. When you put down the glass, or the gun, or the baby, or the relationship and pick up what He’s offering.

I know you’re tired. I know it feels like you’ve tried it before, and it just didn’t work out. I know flipped open your Bible hoping for a miracle.  I know you tried your hand at gardening, sewing, a new sport. I know you taught yourself how to write calligraphy. I know you went on another vacation and tried another friend group. I know you went to a new restaurant. I know you still feel empty.

There’s still hope. As I tell my patients at work, even as they are days away from death, you still have a purpose. It may not seem like it today. It may not seem like it tomorrow. But there’s something ahead that only you can do.

He Himself will restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. He will provide you with peace that transcends all understanding. The things that have been holding you back will no longer have power over you.

It’s not self-help. It’s surrender.

So now, as my friends ask me for mom advice and what they should pack in their hospital bags, I give them my well-organized list. But I also tell them about my experience. I do not want others to suffer in silence and feel like there’s something wrong with them. I don’t want them to miss out on the specialness of new motherhood because they are being attacked.

I offer them hope in Jesus.

As our church says, don’t do life alone. It is uncomfortable to get help. It’s uncomfortable to text your friend that you need advice. It’s uncomfortable to fill out the questions at the doctor’s office. It’s uncomfortable to order Lysa Terkeurst’s books and read them by yourself. It’s uncomfortable to fill your prescriptions at the pharmacy.

But we need you. We need you to uncomfortably show up. We need you to uncomfortably say yes when your friend asks you to go play another round of golf. We need you to open up to that one person. We need you to see that Jesus has a plan for you.

Following Jesus can be uncomfortable at times, but through this, we find ourselves in Christ. He will take you from a place of feeling comfortably numb to perfectly whole.

If today, you’ve felt like the fight is over, reach out and tell the One who offers us grace. Stand up one more time and allow Him to lead you through the battle ahead.

It is a process and not a one-time, quick fix. Grow through what you’re going through. Give Him the broken, dirty, and discarded pieces of you. He will make them new. If you don’t feel that you can hold on, let Him hold on to you.

verified in the verses official

1 Peter 5:7-11 “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.”

Numbers 11:11- “He asked the Lord, “Why have you brought this trouble on your servant? What have i dont to displease you that you put the burden of all these people on me? Did I conceive all these people? Did I give them birth? Why do you tell me to carry them in my arms as a nurse carries an infant, to the land you promised on oath to their ancestors? Where can I get meat for all these people? They keep wailing to me, ‘Give us meat to eat!’ I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me. If this is how you are going to treat me, please go ahead and kill me – if I have found favor in your eyes – and do not let me face my own ruin.”

love, bailey

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