Fast forward fourteen years.
I didn’t talk to God for an entire weekend.
Worse than that, I was angry with Him.
For over twenty years, I never intentionally stopped communication with God. But this time, deep hurt and anger caused me to turn away in disbelief. I could not even open my Bible; it held no words of comfort. This was out-of-character for me, but feelings of devastation and betrayal blinded my heart. I could not see beyond my failure and what felt like God’s abandonment.
You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. . . . You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth? That kind of persuasion does not come from the One Who calls you.Galatians 5:4, 7-8
It was June 2019 and my internal world was spinning out of control. Home schooling five children was a monumental task. Add onto that three of the children coming from a hard place with trauma and this full-time teacher job was turning out to be more than I could handle. We just finished our first year of first grade with the older two kids, and I felt like a failure, an impostor, a horrible teacher-mom. My soul was crushed.
My heart cried out: Why God? Why would You call me to walk a certain road and then leave me to handle it alone? Why would You ask me to do desperately hard things and then abandon me to manage on my own? Why did You give me such a burden to bear in motherhood, knowing full well I would be an unacceptable failure?
Leading up to that crisis weekend, for two or three years when I was alone at night, memories started spinning through my mind. I laid in bed, recounting all the ways I failed as a mom that day. Then I started adding failures five or six years old. Memories of how I messed up with baby Silas or toddler Justus. There was a certain kind of “deserving” I lived beneath. My fallen mind reasoned: I am a failure; I am not a good mom; I keep messing up. Therefore I somehow deserve to be perpetually sorry, to remember all of the failings, and to relive the embarrassing bits. I deserve to pay for them over and over. And over.
Looking back now, I easily see the similarity to the way I used to mentally list my failures back in high school and college. But I couldn’t see it at the time. I brushed it off, assuming it wasn’t the same–of course not, I didn’t do that anymore.
Satan is tricky–same lies, same trip-ups, different packaging. There was a unique motherhood-spin to the memories, but it was the same remembering and panic and lies.
- Lie #1: This is normal. It’s really such a small thing. Everyone does this. Everyone has to do it. There is penance embedded in rehearsing–a mixture of compensation and punishment. You messed up; you must remember and relive it.
- Lie #2: You are alone and this is not normal. Everyone would think you are crazy and a horrible mom if you let them know about these failures and spirals. You must keep it hidden and keep the all-is-okay-I’m-great facade in place.
Just like what happened back during college, the panic attacks suddenly started happening in the daylight. I remember one evening sitting on the comfy chair in my bedroom; it must have been right after I put the kids to bed. It was still bright day outside but my mind started running away from me, listing memory after memory, from that day and from years ago. I called Bryce at work, weeping. It’s happening during the day now. The memories are coming in the daylight and I’m drowning, spinning. I could somehow brush it away in the dark, but attacks in the light? Now I was scared.
After that weekend of not talking to God, I finally realized the memories piling up, the panic attacks, and the overwhelming sense of failure were too much to handle alone. I needed help, now. Homeschooling and motherhood had become such a weight that I felt like I was going crazy. Finally, I didn’t overthink it; I didn’t even talk to Bryce first–I dialed the counseling office to make an appointment for the soonest they could get me in.
For me personally, this is how I knew I reached the point where counseling would be helpful:
- Everything was not okay or normal in my mind
- I needed some help to climb out of that place
To be continued . . . was my relationship with God mended?