Her name is Shame, part 2

If you missed part 1, you can catch up HERE.

And now, part 2. If you’re a Christian reading this, and you choose to continue reading, you may want to do what my dear friend Beth Hollingshead says, “Take your feelings and put ’em in your purse and zip it up real tight.”

The truth is Christians say the worst things to people with depression. And I know because I’ve said them.

I will never forget one day standing in the driveway with a loved one of mine. No one knew she was struggling with depression, and I was the one to witness the first signs of it, there that afternoon. I saw a person who was strong, in every kind of way, a leader in her church, a woman who loved Jesus and served and knew him. And, I, in my naivety said, “It’s going to be ok. You know God’s got it.” And that’s when she began to tear up. A person I’d never once seen get emotional, was about to start crying right in front of me.

Years later, the same kinds of words were spoken over me, and although they were meant to be encouraging, they only made me feel even more foregone.

I’ve explained depression to others as the feeling of drowning- that’s how it is for me. So, in my dark season, I felt like a buoy in an ocean. I knew I wouldn’t sink because I was a buoy, but I also knew I was in a storm, and it had been storming for a long time, and the waves had yet to cease crashing over me. When people make comments to a Christian who is in a place like this, it feels like an enormous weight is pressing down on you and pushes you, the buoy, under the water. It’s a physical struggle to force yourself back up, and when you do get back up, it’s still storming.

Common comments in regards to postpartum depression are…

“Have you tried praying about it?”

“Maybe you should trying joining a small group?”

“Children are a blessing from the Lord. Think about how many women would do anything to have what you have.”

One day I turned on our television to watch an HGTV show and finally eat my lunch while my kids napped, and the TV was turned onto God TV. Yes, for those of you who do not know, there is a channel called God TV. And yes, we try to always leave it on God TV so that way when I turn the TV on to queue up a recorded episode of Daniel Tiger, there aren’t half-dressed women stroking a bare chested soccer player in a cologne commercial on the big screen in front of them. Fragrance commercials drive me batty. But, I digress…

I turned on the TV and was hitting all the buttons on my remote to find one of my recorded HGTV shows, and while I was navigating to it, a female speaker was talking in front of a congregation. I never caught her name, and I’m sure she’s a very nice person, and I’m sure she didn’t mean for what she said to shame anyone, but when she said what she said, my buoy was plunged 20 feet under water.

Basically, what she said was that she believed our society would be a lot less medicated if we were living with the joy the Holy Spirit fills us with.

So what I heard was, “This journey of postpartum depression I’m walking through is my fault. I did something wrong or I am doing something wrong in my relationship with Christ, because obviously, because I take anti-depressant medication, I’m not filled with that joy she’s talking about- I’m filled with depression.”

Christians, please understand something, it is possible to be filled with the Holy Spirit and have depression at the same time. I have experienced the power of the Holy Spirit working through me to do SUPER NATURAL things. He is in me. There are men and women I know, personally, who walk with Jesus, who spend daily time in the Word with Him, who serve Him in numerous ways, who too were struck with this, severely.

So, when you make comments like those above, even though you mean for them to be encouraging, they often bring shame upon the person you’re speaking to.

Are your feelings still in your purse? Put them back if you just took them out.

Shame is sneaky. The Enemy uses shame to bind. So, it’s no surprise to see how the Enemy of course would use the words that [often] well-intentioned, caring Believers offer to their friends and family when they see how they are hurting. HOPE is being extended, but the Enemy translates it to Shame.

Again, I’ve been that Christian who has said something well-intentioned, something that was TRUE, but it was still the wrong thing to say to a person with depression.

So, “What do you say?” the Christians are wondering, because Christians, it’s true… God is in control, of course we should pray about it; we should pray about everything. Yes, a small group is a great idea, but you know what, you can’t always join one right when you need to. And many church’s small group schedules take breaks, so what are they going to do when it’s the middle of summer and you tell them to go join a small group? And for the love of EVERYTHING, do not tell a woman who has postpartum depression that children are a blessing from the Lord and that other women would do anything to have what she has. Yes, this is true true true, but believe me when I say it will offer her absolutely no encouragement- all she will feel is shame.

So, “What do you say?”

I’m not a licensed counselor or therapist. So, all I’m going to share here are the statements that helped me…

“It’s going to be ok. It’s going to get better. You’re not alone in this.”

“You are not alone. In fact, _________ dealt with this too. I’m sure she’d love to talk with you if you wanted to.”

“What can I do to help? You’re not alone in this.”

Those statements loose Shame’s grip.

I fear that there are so many Christian women sitting in their houses, sobbing on the floor, feeling like they’re 20 feet under water, who are only hearing the Shame statements from the other Christians in their life. People who love these women, who love Jesus, and of course would never, ever want to make that woman feel worse! Yet, I fear this is happening far more than anyone realizes. Because I was that woman. And I am forever grateful for the Christians who said the right things to me- because there were Christians who said the wrong things too. But, the Christians who said the right things, including, in my case, going to talk to my doctor, God used to pull me up to the surface of the water. To give me air. To give me strength to stay afloat.

Shame has lost her grip on me. So, sweet sister, who read this whole thing that’s walking through depression right now, I’ve been there too. You’re not alone in this. It’s going to be ok, and it’s going to get better.

Until next time,

❤ Lindsay

Kindness

I bought this shirt as an impulse buy one day while looking for a daddy-shark t-shirt for my husband (inside family joke). I’m not sure why this burgundy v-neck was included in my search results, but there it was on my screen displaying back to me a phrase I say over and over again to our kids every day, “Be kind.”

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It’s kind of baffling to me how easy it is to be kind, and yet I see this phrase plastered as a reminder everywhere I look these days- on t-shirts, on social media newsfeeds, on hand-painted signs at craft and decor stores. But why do we need the reminder when it’s so easy to be kind?

Sadly, I think it’s because so many people are not kind. One time I joined a public group on Facebook for moms who use a specific kind of baby wearing carrier thing. The group’s purpose was described as a resource for people who use that baby carrier- a place where you could post questions, including pictures of yourself with it on, and your baby in it, for tips on how to adjust all the straps the right way so you’d be wearing it correctly. Well, I quickly understood why a facebook support group existed for this baby carrier, because it was incredibly confusing to get on right. So after my husband and I watched a few videos on YouTube and still hadn’t figured it out, I posted a selfie with me wearing it with my son in it along with a caption that went something like this, “I know I don’t have this on right, but I can’t figure it out. Can someone please advise?”

The comments almost brought me to tears; they were so mean. I couldn’t believe people would respond that way to a person asking for help, especially in a place where those questions were encouraged. Shoot, the entire purpose for the group was for women like me to post exactly that kind of question/picture.

It was a wake up call. It took me a couple hours after I’d deleted the post and left the group to realize what I was experiencing wasn’t out of the ordinary. It’s comments like the ones made about my selfie that warrant the plastering of “be kind” everywhere.

But still, I just kept thinking to myself, “It just isn’t hard to be kind.”

And when it comes to our words, sometimes being kind is just being quiet.

Sometimes it’s hard to be quiet. And social media lets us shout anything through our fingertips with a captive audience 24 hours a day, so “sharing” and “transparency” are constantly encouraged if you’re connected at all to that world.

Other times it’s hard to find the right words. Especially when you don’t agree with someone, or they’ve offended you in some way. However, there is a way to disagree and confront another person in a kind and respectful way. If kindness and respect are not what are bubbling up from inside of you, you may want to wait to use words in that moment. (Something I’ve definitely had to work on at times.)

It’s really easy to be kind to others, but I fear it just isn’t our nature. I have a little song I sing with the kids that my mom made up that we apply a fruit of the spirit to when we sing it depending on which fruit applies best during that situation. Our top three are kindness, patience, and self control.

Kindness, kindess

Jesus gives us kindness.

Kindness, kindness,

Jesus gives us kindness

Through the Holy Spirit.

When I sing this with the kids, it diffuses whatever situation we’re currently finding ourselves in. (I find singing when I get mad or they’re mad is SO helpful!) It also reinforces which choice they should be making, so in regards to kindness, it would be whatever the kind choice is in that situation. And, most importantly, it reminds me how badly we need the Holy Spirit to work in our hearts and refine that sin-nature we all have into character that reflects Jesus.

If you’re currently finding yourself in a place where kindness is not being shown to you, I just want you you to know that I prayed for you before I published this post. I know how much that hurts when someone isn’t kind to you, whether it’s through social media or directly to your face or behind your back. Remember that there is Someone who wants kindness for you in this broken, self-centered world. Keep giving it, living it, and letting the Holy Spirit grow it in you. Hugging you.

Until next time,

❤ Lindsay

PS – This post does contain an affiliate link, but my opinions are always my own. Thank you for clicking through!

One for the “Weeds” of the World

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In the 1950’s, “the American Dream” included 5 elements: a husband with a salary, a stay-at-home wife, children, a nice house, and a dog. While the times have changed significantly, the majority of these elements are still popular for the average family unit. But what about those women who want all those things… except the children? Yes, I said it. I just heard the gasp of horror coming from potential grandmothers from sea to shining sea! I am, for the most part, completely happy and content without children. My husband and I discuss this often, and for now we are on the same page. Neither of us necessarily consider it a permanent decision, but it brings me peace, despite the nagging pressure to build an exact replica of “the American Dream”.

Even after making the decision to not have children (for now), that “dream” can sometimes muddle the emotions of a 30-year-old woman who is childfree by choice. For the most part, the driving force to become a mother is biological, but even so, we will each have different lives, different minds, different dreams, and different needs. I always thought I would want children. I never thought I would be “just a housewife”. Being raised in the South, it’s not uncommon to believe that either college or a job follows high school, and a spouse and a child come soon after. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that mindset if it works for you. Most of my friends already have at least one child, if not several, and I have a clowder of nieces and nephews. I love them all with a very generous portion of my heart.

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A common dandelion: weed to most, summer fun for those who possess a bit of imagination. (Kristina)

I’ll admit, sometimes that leaves me feeling empty. Other times, I am beyond thankful— Don’t even get me started on some of the drama that goes on in the mom groups of social media, but that’s beside the point. Yes, I do have tiny twinges of jealousy when I wish I had a child just so I could have something to talk about with the “cool” moms… I mean, I try, but I must not be doing something right… “Your baby is adorable! Want to see a really cute picture of my cat? Seriously…she’s super awesome… Oh. Not the same? Roger that.” Hashtag: mom group reject.

So what about when I step away from the baby powder fog for a moment? I ask myself, “Is that what you really want?” Enter: complete clarity. While I’m also not opposed to God choosing me to be a mom, I see the word ‘no’ flash before my eyes in big neon lights. The hardest moments come after realizing that your desires for your life do not match those around you. It can make you feel as though your brain isn’t wired correctly. Something must be wrong with you since that’s your purpose as a woman, right? It makes you question whether or not you heard God correctly when he answered that prayer. In fact, people may sometimes tell you that very thing, as if they were listening in on the line between you and the Man Upstairs. Luckily for me, my closest family and friends (a.k.a. “the ones who matter most”) support our current decision, but I know there are some women who aren’t as lucky… “Why wouldn’t you want children? Do it while you’re young, or you’ll regret it! It’ll be so different when they’re your own.” As far as my current situation goes, I have even heard the, “Your life must be so easy,” and, “I could keep my house clean like that too if I got to sit at home without kids all day.” Which brings me to my point…

“I do not believe in weeds. A weed is simply a flower that someone decides is in the wrong place.” -Sister Monica Joan, Call the Midwife

That’s a great quote, isn’t it? Sure, I do get extra time to read or *cough* accidentally fall asleep in my favorite chair, but I don’t render myself useless by any means. I take my job as a housewife very seriously, something I had to teach myself as I realized my role in this stage of life. My husband supports me, I support him, and we made this decision together (with some Divine guidance). Even so, it’s been suggested by the standards of society that I’m a weed, awkwardly planted in the wrong stage of life. Perhaps a late bloomer that just needs encouragement. Soon, I will wilt. My purpose as a woman is not bound by the productivity of my womb. What people haven’t realized, that after months, possibly years, of thoughtful prayer, I am blooming where I have been firmly planted by the hand of God. He will make different uses of different women, and this particular story is about my garden.

There are many types of flowers and blooms in this world, each with their own beauty and requirements to thrive. Who are we to decide their purpose when their Creator had a use for every single root, petal, stem, and thorn? If you find your heart tugging at a desire you are confused about, take that desire to God. Specifically ask him the questions you need answered. Most importantly, listen with your mind open to Him, strongly plant your roots, and be prepared to bloom in ways and places you had never expected. 

xoxo,

Kristina

Live Generously

Confession- I have a Bible app that gives you a verse every morning to look at on your locked screen before you open it, but I never read the verse. Usually I’m hearing my youngest child singing through his baby monitor at 5:45am, grabbing my phone to see what time it is, and opening my phone before I even notice what notifications have popped up over night- including that day’s Bible verse.

But one day when I actually did read the verse, I had to look it up in my hard copy Bible because I’d never heard it before!

At least, I’d never heard it translated this way before.

“Live generously.” Matthew 5:42b (MSG)

It’s basically Christian common sense, one would think. But, it shook me to read! Because honestly, I can’t say that’s what my lifestyle looked like prior to reading it that morning.

I wear a lot of hats: I have two toddlers, work a part-time from-home job, and have a small biz side hustle. And in the deep mommy-trenches season that I was in when I read that verse, I was drowning. How could I live generously? I mean, for almost 4 years straight my body was either growing or nursing a small human being and functioning on very little sleep. Some days, just staying and keeping my babies alive was an accomplishment. Live generously? How? And from where would I give?

So, I started paying attention to opportunities where I could be generous. In a season where the word “No” came out of my mouth 200 times a day, I looked for where I could say, “Yes.”

And that’s what I did. But, if I couldn’t say “Yes,” I didn’t. (And I tried not to beat myself up about it.)

I go to Bible study every Wednesday morning. I couldn’t help watch kids for the Bible study leaders when they’d meet on Mondays, but I could watch their kids for the 15 minutes before Bible study started on Wednesdays. So, I said, “Yes” to that.

We were in no place to take in a foster child. But, I had piles of beautiful baby clothes my children had outgrown. So anytime a family we know takes in a new foster baby, I bring them a bin of beautiful clothes in that baby’s size.

I make dinner most nights. It’s not hard to double a recipe. So when someone I know is sick, I double the recipe and bring them a meal.

When a friend is going through a hard time, I don’t just say, “I’m sorry; I’ll pray for you.” I ask them what I can DO for them. And if I can DO it, I do it. (And if I can’t, I can’t.)

Our family has been so blessed by the generosity of others. I couldn’t even begin to write out a list of examples, but some days I actually feel a little guilty- like we don’t deserve the generosity we receive. And in those moments God reminds me that those people who are blessing our family with their generosity are doing the same thing I’m doing when I say “Yes” where I can.

I love how the Message translation states this entire section (Matthew 5:42-48). It is totally worth a read if you aren’t familiar with it. At the end Jesus says, “You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.”

So, friend, I pray you will walk in this truth today. If you haven’t been able to spend some daily time in the word with God yet, or even in a while, lean into this passage over your lunch break.

I know it encourages and challenges me every time I read it.

Until next time,

❤ Lindsay