For quite sometime I have been mulling over this blog. I was trying to come up with some catchy title, give you the “top 5 things” I have learned since having 5 kids or the “top 5 changes” I have experienced since the birth of Veil Eden. Each time I came up with the list, it would crumble. Either in the form of my brain unable to complete the last few points to make a solid 5 or better yet my personal life would be in shambles.
To say I entered into the postpartum period of life with Veil naively doesn’t quite scratch the surface. I had told myself “eh, this will be easy”. I had told myself, “God broke you quite a bit with the number 4, what more can you learn Sarah?”…that should have been my first indicator that I was getting ready for some shaking. Please don’t think I was being a brat about feeling like I had all my duckies in a row. I wasn’t taking those duckies and parading them for all to see and wanting accolades. I just felt like I had put the time in, emotionally, physically and mentally to handle the change of adding another soul. The ease of adding our 4th into the mix lead me to believe that bringing Veil into this managed chaos would not break me. I believed I was going to come out the other side unscathed because God had been breaking me and remaking me so intensely the last 8 years of parenting that I thought I was “done”…yeah…are you reading this thinking “how on earth could she think that?”
Richard recently approached me telling me of an opportunity to serve in the community in a political role. His dream to see me as a the future state representative is always playing in the back of his mind. He has already secured a campaign manager and the two of them are ready to pull the plug once I give them just a hint of my desire to finally run. As he was sitting across me, telling me all the role would entail, I felt it. That ground that I had been clinging to, picking myself up and dusting myself off, jumping like a cricket on it to avoid the massive cracks…it began to shake and my eyes and ears began to gloss over and close as he spoke to me. Once he finished, once I realized that he was staring at me in the silence, waiting for my response, I found my voice crack, the tears trying to squeeze up between my eyeballs and lids, my words spilled out. “Richard, I can’t” “I am barely making it day to day” “I reach this level (hand above my head) every single day” “I feel like a failure” “stop asking me to be what I can’t” “I can’t even handle the jobs I have now”…
Fighting the urge he faces constantly to fix me, he looked at me and said firmly, yet with compassion “ok, thank you for telling me”
The conversation had no follow up, there was no prelude to a big “ah ha” moment of finding some secret power tucked in a forgotten box, that would allow me to put my superwoman cape on. It started and ended with no expectation of more discussion in the future.
Folks, it was painful for me to say those words. To honestly list all the “I can’ts”. Even though he is the one I have grown up with the last 16 yrs and he has seen me at my highest and lowest. I still fought the urge to be so transparent to him, to finally say out loud what I heard shouting in my ears daily for the last month or so, “I am not enough”
I have had some short but powerful conversations with some ladies since I became a mother of 5. I think it’s common nature for us to always ask a new mom how she is, we ask if she is getting enough sleep, how she is adapting, maybe even we offer some help, either way, we always ask how she is, but rarely are in a place to hear and receive the truth, esp if the truth is “I am drowning”.
One mother told me she appreciated me, as she fought tears, sharing a recent “I am the worst mom ever” moment with me. She recalled a time I stood in front of our church body during my mini sermon between worship songs. I had shared a struggle with raising a strong willed child, I shared I was human and made mistakes, I shared how God was teaching me a critical lesson. I knew what moment she was talking about. I knew, because that Sunday was a hard Sunday for me. I fought, wrestled and asked God why he was asking me to stand in front of our church body and wave a big sign saying “I am not perfect!!!!”. Laugh please do, because as I just wrote that sentence I laughed.
I don’t think I struggle with being honest. I tend to run quickly into the deep conversations, I seek out souls that want to get to the bottom of things rather then live on the comfortable surface. But if I am honest right here and now, I don’t like being transparent or vulnerable with anyone unless I have figured out or come out the other side of the situation alive. I am great at sharing hard things, once I have analyzed it, wrapped it in a neat little box and filed it away for when I am ready to share a teaching moment with someone.
After the mom and I talked a little more, she thanked me, told me to keep sharing those moments because she said a massive weight was lifted from her that morning. The “perfect” mom, worship leader and woman she had measured herself too, no longer made her feel like she wasn’t “enough”.
When you see me Sunday mornings, freshly manicured, straightened hair, makeup, alert eyes, smiling, ready to serve the body of Christ. Please know I am just as broken as the next human being. I had to get up at 6 am in order to walk out the door at 8:15, to be ready for worship practice. I had to wake up before my kids and husband to ensure I would get ample time to make myself look the way I think I am suppose to look. I realize now that my need to look perfect, to hide my flaws that scream at me daily, sometimes minute by minute, has harmed others. Momma’s I am sorry!
When another mom asked me how I was (after I showed up flustered to an event), I in a moment of weakness answered her honestly, her quick response was like salve to a wound. You know what she said?!? “That is really relieving to hear”…”you struggling, makes me feel like it’s ok to struggle myself”…
Why do we do this? Why do we hide behind the masks that we think people want to see? In reality people need us to be honest, to admit from time to time we are struggling.
Most recently the “oh crap”, came knocking at my door. The dust had settled and I am still amazed it didn’t come sooner. I found myself spinning like a top. My heart was racing, it felt as though my vision was blurred as well. My heart was pounding so loud that I wanted to plug my ears. I couldn’t catch my breath and I was so worked up that not even a good cry could fix this.
The loads and loads of laundry were screaming at me, the pile of dirty dishes were taunting me, the remnants of getting kids and a hubby out the door for school and work were left for me to tackle in what seemed a doomed amount. I had someone waiting on me to go and have some fun and yet I was standing in my dinning room yelling at God. He says “call out to me, all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest”. Yet there I was exhausted, tired, so tired that not even a dream situation of getting a nap could fix me. I was so tired that even my cells in my body were saying “we can’t regenerate, there is no fuel left”.
I found myself responding to him when he said “I am right here, I will help you”. With a snarky response “oh yeah, you are going to jump off that throne and start folding the laundry, clean my dirty base boards and sticky walls, you are going to sweep the dust bunnies off my stairs, you are going to come and clean the toys up…you’re going to…uh huh…”
It got silent, like really silent. I hear God speak, in many different ways. He can speak loudly, gently, he can whisper at times, he can speak through a song, through his word, through a friend, he can speak in many ways. What matters is, am I willing to listen.
After my grade A fit that I threw, I wish I could tell you that he came rushing in and fixed and answered all the aching I was facing.
But he didn’t
It wasn’t until the next day as I cleaned the kitchen I didn’t have any capacity to clean the day before that I heard him respond to me as I was crying inside. I was crying inside and saying “I am not enough Lord, I am not enough to be the mother you are asking me to be, I am not enough to be the wife Richard needs, I am not enough to lead your people into worship, I am not enough to be the friend others are needing”…”why Lord?”…
As I scraped the food goo off my black marble counters he spoke clear as day, just as a loving father does when their child is crying and needs love. You know what he said? “Sarah, I have you right where you need to be”
“You can’t be enough…
I have spent my teens, early adulthood and even more so now in my early 30s trying to reach, control and shape my environment and image that would reflect that I have it together and don’t need help. Accepting help would be a sign of weakness, a sign that I couldn’t handle things.
I have lived in fear that I would be discovered, that I someone would see the real me and choose that I was not worthy. Worthy is a word I struggle with more than anything.. I am not worthy of God’s grace, I am not worthy of my Ephesians 5 husband and I sure am not worthy to raise 5 little souls…
After hearing that simple answer, how I can’t be enough, how I am right where God wants me I have been trying to take my environment in. Trying to swallow the humility he is asking me to walk in honor with, attempting to drop the act and let my vulnerability define me instead of the list of things I am not meant to perfect on this earth.
I am tired, bone tired. My little man took a picture of me on the couch, I had fallen asleep holding Veil at 7:30. This was an odd site,my son knew this was a moment to capture. He told me “he just had too”. I was unable to keep my eyes open and I cringed when I saw what I really looked like. This is my reality of this hard season of motherhood. Still rocking a maternity shirt, left over pregnancy acne on my cheeks, double chin from the extra pregnancy pounds my body will hold onto for what will feel like forever. There was no fancy filter to edit this picture, this is me.
I many times debate on if it’s worth it to change my shirt after being spit up on because it will add to the laundry pile. I have sticky walls, crusty table, toothpaste covered bathroom sink, dishes on the counter, floors that could use a heavy scrub, piles of organized crap and I don’t foresee this season ending anytime soon. Little Veil Eden is 8 wks old and I am having to release my grip on my unrealistic expectations I have put on myself and face the reality that I am not enough.
Remember when I said God told me he had me right where I am suppose to be? The place where I am suppose to be is a place that sees I was never asked to be enough. He created me to need him, to rely on him, to place aside pride and be real. He is asking me to be real, to remove the mask and maybe somehow help someone else stop spinning out of control.