Faith, Mental Health, Parenting

When what now becomes what if

Hardships aren’t easy. (The clue is in the name). But I’ve seen great purpose come from great pain.

When I struggled with maternal mental health for a second time, and sank to such depths from which I thought my marriage and my family would never recover, I couldn’t see a way out. I remember crying out ‘what now?’ not understanding why a God I loved and served would let me suffer like this. I couldn’t understand why I was being broken all over again, even more deeply than the first time.

Sometimes it is only when we are fully broken that we can be fully rebuilt.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Now I can see that God turned my ‘what now?’ into a ‘what if?’. What if I stuck my head above the sand and shared my story? What if I spoke of my struffles and helped break the stigma? What if?

It is because of some of the darkest days in my life that I began to share my experiences. This led me to blogging, setting up a moms on mental health group and more recently becoming a mental health swim host.

Since my second mental health diagnosis three years ago, God has traded my shame into sharing and exchanged my isolation for community. Rather than prevent my pain, He used it to help me direct my focus on Him so that He could help me encourage others.

If I hadn’t endured mental health battles of my own, I would never have empathised and understood those who did. I certainly wouldn’t have been so proactive in supporting them. Yet here I am doing just that and I have never felt happier.

All we need is a seed of faith to grow a tree of fruit

Please know that I am no superhero. I am no saint. I am simply someone who struggled and saw a need. Someone who was willing to put her hand up and say I am hurting, this sucks, does anyone else feel the same? One thing that I have learned since walking my mental health journey is that it is a much easier road to travel when you don’t walk alone.

Pain can produce purpose

Pain can produce purpose. Do you believe that? It’s a hard pill to swallow when you are in depths, believe me. But if you are struggling and asking the same question – ‘what now?’ can I encourage you to turn the question on its head and ask ‘what if?’

What if your health doesn’t decline? Your business doesn’t go under? Your marriage doesn’t fail? What if it does but you make it through, battered and bruised? What if our ‘what nows’ are training grounds for where God is calling us to be?

What if our ‘what nows’ are training grounds for where God is calling us to be?

It is incredibly difficult to see how hardships are anything but that – hard. If you are facing hard times today, please be encourgaed; maybe, just maybe you are in training to find a purpose of your own.

R x

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Faith

Running with others

“Oh, I don’t run with others.”

This was my response to friends who had done Couch to 5k and wanted to join me on some of my regular runs. It makes me cringe now, looking back but there was a reason behind it.

Running for me is more than just getting fit. It is my headspace, my self-care, my therapy. It is my place to run away from my worries, to run through my frustrations. It’s often pretty messy and it wasn’t a process that I wanted others to witness.

When you run with others, there is an assumption that you are going to talk. Talking wasn’t always something that I was comfortable with, so it was easier to put my earbuds in, get my head down and keep going. I joined a running club last January and was the slowest runner there. I hated watching others overtake me, but what I hated even more was when people hung back for me.

Crazy, right?

But the kinder and more encouraging people were to me, the angrier and more embarrassed I felt. I have been conditioned to independence. Much to my poor husband’s dismay, I am fiercely stubborn and determined to things my way, on my own, in my time. (Our eldest son has sadly inherited this same fierce independence!)

If things get tough? Its okay, I’m tough enough to cope.

If things get messy? Its okay, I’ve got it under control.

If things get sad? It’s okay, I can paint on a smile.

Just run with it. Run through it. Run from it.

This philosophy is okay for a while, but running alone gets lonely. Running uphill gets hard. Running on empty is draining.

This is why God put people in our paths, to encourage us, to equip us, to energise us, to excite us. Those people who encouraged me are now seeing me keep up with them, hold a conversation with them. Over the past 12-18 months, I have entered races, run distances I could only dream of and smashed personal bests. All because I am running with others who propel me forward, running in a club that cheers me on.

We were never designed to live alone.

It is no surprise that we were never designed to live alone. We are made in God’s image, and even He doesn’t live alone. He exists as part of the Trinity; Father, Spirit, Son. The Bible is packed with men and women who needed relationship; with Jesus and with other people. God created us to live in community with others, and regardless of whether we are living the dream or lying at our lowest, we need people around us.

This week is maternal mental health awareness week. I have walked (and ran) through postnatal depression and anxiety twice in the last five years. I know first hand that despite all the treatment and all the therapy in the world, it was my community and my church that got me through. As the saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child, but I believe it takes a village to raise a mother.

As the saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child,
but I believe it takes a village to raise a mother.

Wherever this finds you today, whether you are a mama who is walking a rocky road alone, or running with others, know that you are not alone. God never left you and He never will. He sent Jesus to crawl, walk and run alongside you. He sent His Holy Spirit to guide you. Even on your darkest day, He will be your brightest light.

God never left you and He never will.

When running, especially uphill, you need to keep your head up and fix your eyes on a focal point ahead. This is the best way to keep going, keep moving and get to the top. Running the race of life is no different. We need to keep our heads up, fix our eyes on Jesus and run towards Him. And He will take you through the deepest valley and over the tallest mountain out to the other side.

R x

Photo Credit: FreePik
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