I feel the need to add a disclaimer that this post was not created out of the stress of the past couple of days and spurred on by exhaustion. I actually wrote this last week and scheduled it for this morning. I could probably add some more to it this morning in my sleep-deprived weariness, but I think it's best just to share with you what I wrote when my head was clearer. :-)
I don't know about you, but sometimes I need to write things down. (Surprise, surprise, eh?) Some days I get completely overwhelmed by the to-do list or the shopping list or the list of questions I need to ask or any one of the many lists that I try to keep in my head. The tasks seem impossible... until I write them down. Once I see them in black and white, they aren't so scary. And sometimes the lists aren't as long as they seem in my head. Suddenly the impossible seems managable, even reasonable. And suddenly I start to feel better, breathe easier--maybe even laugh a little at myself.
Lately I have had a lot of doubts on my mind. They started slowly, just a question here and there, a concern now and then. And then they started to grow. My head is hurting more, my stomach is aching more, the tears are coming more... and I'm sleeping less. The doubts are growing, and I am worrying. And the worries... well, they are intimidating. Overwhelming. Impossible.
So this morning I decided it was time to try my old trick. Get them out of my head. Get them on "paper"--or screen, at least. In the spirit of trying to ease my mind, in the hopes that they will seem less scary when I actually write them down, I'm going to share with you the doubts and questions that have been plaguing me.
What if I should have been more concerned about Roo's slow weight gain?
What if that slow growth also slowed down his mental development--and it's my fault?
What if Roo's many colds last year slowed down his development? I was catching up on The Blessing of Verity the other day and read this: "Why are we so vigilant over Verity’s health? When typical babies get sick, even repeatedly, it doesn’t affect their overall development. They will still meet their milestones effortlessly. When babies with special needs are repeatedly ill, it can have a serious negative impact on their long-term development." She also says, "We can’t prove her health is a result of mama’s milk, vitamin D, probiotics, fish oils, grapefruit seed extract, Sambucus, extra-virgin organic unrefined coconut oil, superfood fruits and vegetables, staying away from dairy and groups of peers with runny noses, or any other factors! But they can’t be hurting, either." I'm not doing those things. If Roo's coughs and stuffy noses and fevers harmed his overall development... it's my fault.
What if I'm not stimulating him enough? In that same post, Verity's mama goes on to say, "Since her birth, we have done our best not to let Verity have any 'down time,' no break from being challenged and stimulated in some way, unless she is asleep. Again, this has become part of the collective family consciousness. We all help to keep her engaged and working, to keep her from sitting and doing nothing, or 'blobbing,' as I call it." What if he is falling behind the other babies we know because of this under-stimulation? It's my fault.
How can I stimulate him more and still take responsible care of the rest of my family? Already the laundry is piling up, the floors need swept, the bathrooms need cleaned--not to mention the projects that are growing. I'm not even keeping up with the current level of chaos, let alone making any head way.
What if I'm not spending enough time with the big kids? What if they start to resent Roo because of all of the time and attention he needs? If they start to resent him, it's my fault.
How can I teach my kids that they are more important than housework, and still teach them to be responsible, good stewards? If they grow up to be irresonsible slobs, it's my fault.
What if I'm comparing too much?
What if I'm not comparing enough?
What if we're missing something? Something in his eyes, his ears, his brain that could be slowing down his development--or worse, something that could affect his health in the long-term.
And underneath it all... at the very root of all these questions... is WHY. But it's not the "why" of a year ago. I'm no longer asking, "Why, God, did you bring this into our family? Why are you making our baby suffer? Why are you making life hard for us?"
No, now it's a different "why." Now I wonder...
Why did you give this incredible baby to me, when I am already failing him? Why didn't you realize that there are thousands of moms out there who would be so much better for him?
I heard an interview this week with a Christian counselor and pastor. He was actually talking about victims of sexual abuse, but he said something that really hit home with me. He said that today's oh-so-popular depression "cure" of Positive-Self Talk doesn't work, because the things you tell yourself aren't necessarily true. I can look myself in the mirror every day and say, "You are an amazing rocket scientist!" But that doesn't make it true, so when I go out and try to get a job at NASA, they'll just laugh me out of there.
And do you know what else? Messages like "It's my fault" are a lot more powerful than messages like "I'm sure I'm doing fine."
But do you know what is effective? Scripture. Because Scripture is true, and I know it's true. If I keep it in my head, if I constantly remind myself of the truth... I'll be better equipped to fight the doubts.
That's the hope, anyway. That's what this counselor said. And I definitely found it to be true in my struggles with depression before. So it's worth trying now.
So here's the deal... Plan A didn't really work too well for me. Writing down those doubts... didn't make them less scary. Instead, I'm in tears just from typing them out, from sharing with all of you the ugly thoughts that are in my head.
It's time for Plan B. And maybe Plan B should have been Plan A all along. Because Plan B is the Word of God.
Here's what I know is true...
"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'" --Jeremiah 29:11
"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." --Psalm 139:13-14
"Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens." --Psalm 68:19
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." --Matthew 11:28-29
"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." --John 14:27
"Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it." --Proverbs 4:23
Father, help me to guard my heart. Help me to fill it with truth--and You are the Truth. Your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Help me to trust in You, in your plan for me and my family.