Here's to 2014, my favorite year yet. I don't even recognize the person I entered this year as and that's probably a good thing. I've been pushed, pulled, broken and restored both physically and mentally venturing into this whole new life experience becoming a mother and leaving my old life behind.
I've experienced being on the mountaintop, watching my sweet babe nuzzle on my breast as I seen the beauty of Grace and Love blossoming from her sweet innocent dreamy-like content face. Feeling the new breathe of Life and God, and goodness in her fragile being and suddenly realizing "There is more to this life than just centering it around myself."
But this year has also brought struggles as I started it with my big round belly and aching body ready to give way to this baby anytime, January was the slowest most anticipating month of my life. I was ready to quit letting this baby borrow my body for her growing and I was ready to take the task head-on of continuing her nourishment and development as her parents. Little did I know what I was getting myself into? There were times not long after Febuary 8th 2014 that I wish I could just stick her back in so I could get some time to myself for just a little bit longer.
And then we realize that's what stretches you and that's what teaches you. To live a life dedicated to someone else even when you're not feeling up to par. There's no giving in when the going gets tough. There's no breaks (especially if you breastfeed exclusively) it's around the clock, worrying, wondering if you've done enough, feed your baby enough, changed their diaper enough, the worries are endless.
But out of the hard nuances of my changed "everyday life" a new joy was born. A joy that came from my hard times, a strength that was other worldly that I learned to lean on. Suddenly the hard times looked beautiful because they were making me into new! They were preparing me for the life ahead. At the same time this was also breaking me. It was shattering my views of self-inflated happiness and repaired them into a servant's Joy.
The first few weeks of motherhood were awesome but I found myself in my vulnerabilities, looking and sometimes longing for that life that I use to have. When Ivey was 7 weeks my husband and I went to Asheville for a night. I was so excited to be able to experience just a taste of that old life. We went to dinner at nice restaurants and went shopping but it just didn't seem to suffice anymore. There was a new hollowness in those actions that wasn't there before. Then I found myself that night longing for the life I have. Longing for my baby's touch and even longing for every aspect of what that motherhood had to offer. Suddenly the grandeur of my previous life started looking pitiful. (Only talking about my OWN pre-baby life. I know lots of selfless people who aren't parents.) I use to chase after my own entertainments and my own selfishness diluted all my thinking in every aspect of my life. I couldn't even find joy in being pregnant because it had become an inconvenience on my life for 9 months! Sorry I know this is raw but I am just opening up every dark area of my life and shinning light on it! It's quite refreshing to do that!
Then came the realization of all this coming to light which started happening around the end of this year. Have you ever wondered "Well life is good, but there is some puzzle pieces that I am missing that I need to find, or if you were like me at the beginning of this year, you were just trying to fill it." When I began to let Jesus shine his light in those darker areas of my life, it was really hard to do. It takes REAL Faith to open yourself up and say "Here I am! Baggage, brokeness, foolishness and all!" But Oh WHAT JOY COMES WITH THAT KIND OF FAITH! Everything comes to light. Our shames, our selfishness, our self-pleasing Idols, and our self-fulfilling Religion, our prides. With this light shinning on every vulnerability comes Love. It infiltrates you, it's so weird! When my own imperfections are brightly shinning in the light and life of Jesus everyone else's imperfections pale in comparison. Suddenly Christ is shinning brightly from them as well! From my atheist friends, from my Christian friends, my agnostic friends, even my enemies! Christ image was in them and it blessed me. I think that's when I started really falling in Love with God. His beauty captivated me in those around me. When I saw him in every good thing and when he broke me of my pride. Wow, pride is such a hidden, disillusionment in us and that is usually what the plank in our own eyes turns out to be. I was using my Christian Religion to fulfill my own desires, to pat myself on the back and to not care about my enemies. I had hidden Idols of greed, wealth, lukewarmness and selfishness as I didn't care for my neighbor as much as I cared for myself.
And isn't that what our Faith should boil down to? Love God with ALL your Heart, mind, body and soul and love your neighbor as yourself. No wonder we want to turn to darkness again and try to shine Jesus' light on other's sins before our own. We become lovers of darkness when we refuse to look at ourselves instead of others. The light is bright and it shines in every aspect of your life. It is intense! We want other people to have the light but we don't have it for ourselves a lot of times and people sense that. Because of our fear and unbelief, we settle Jesus to an afterthought of the surroundings and place him exclusively for a way to get to Heaven but not as Lord of reigning in every aspect of our lives and becoming active members of His Kingdom.
If there's anything I could take away from this year that has changed me is this: instead of being just a Fan of Jesus, I became a Follower. And boy is it hard! I had my first panic attack recently and of course it stemmed from a number of things but a lot of it was my mind and soul changing and wrestling against each other. I was released from the Fear of Them, and am becoming a being of love but my mind and my body war against the selflessness that I should possess. It's a daily struggle, and that day my body retorted against it. Fear was seeping in like a cold snake and it shook me to the core that day. He came at me with the flickers of his tongue brushing against my ear and my stance of selfless Love and that Jesus wasn't for war but for Peace. That I was no better than my sins and I didn't really believe it either and they were going to lock me up in a mental institution for believing in all this hippy mumbo-jumbo. After retorting I had to tell myself I wasn't crazy. I wasn't crazy for believing in Love. I wasn't the only Christian who believed that Kingdom is here and it's a Kingdom of Love, Peace and everything good in this world. I wasn't crazy in believing for better for my life, our world and in Jesus's narrow path of Peace and not the wide gate of Destruction of War-loving, power hungry Religion riding on the back of Empire greed. (Does the whore of Babylon on the back of the beast sound like a familiar analogy here? I made that too easy :).)
But then we have to remember one thing: There is Joy in suffering and there is Peace in Servanthood. I couldn't see this joy when my life was about myself and the dark areas in my life. Jesus said "Woe to you who are Rich, happy and Full because I have nothing to offer you." He came to be a King of the Oppressed, poor, meek and lowly. I thank God everyday for bringing my very own Angel, that cold day in Febuary. He has taught me so much in the selfless love that I have for her in becoming a parent. In the still, small ways I'll endure anything for her, he tells me He would endure anything for me. In the hard moments, he's made me strong as I see Him being made perfect in my struggles. So this coming year when you are feeling like a failure, crazy, not good enough, not perfect enough just remember those are the times Jesus is waiting for us. He's more present in the hard times and more beautiful in our imperfections. He wants to shine a light on your vulnerabilities and trade them for beauty in this world!