When You’ve Lost Your Joy In the Midst of Marriage & Motherhood

When You've lost your joy

The tag line of my upcoming book is Finding Your Joy in God, Your Man, Your Kids and Your Home.

If you have followed me for more than 3 years you know that long ago I touched on the subject of depression just slightly.  The series was not well received because I personally have never suffered from clinical depression…so I deleted the series and decided that I would allow other women who have walked through this valley speak to this tender subject.

And though I have never been clinically depressed, like most,  I have had sad – very sad – seasons in life when I’ve lost my joy.

One sad season was when my husband was gone on a business trip over 200 nights in one year.  I stood at the window weekly, with little toddlers wrapped around my legs, waving bye bye to daddy with tears streaming down my cheeks.  This was a long and lonely season.

Every time I’ve moved from city to city – from my hometown to Chicago to Columbus and back to my hometown, I’ve experienced deep sadness that sometimes turned into anxiety and an outbreak of hives.

I’ve had dark days when tears came easy or I felt like a failure and like quitting everything in life.  We have had hard moments in our marriage where I’ve woken up to the reality of why some people throw in the towel when the going gets tough.  I get it…marriage is hard.

I’ve cried over my parenting struggles trying to raise my wild child and my whole family can attest to years of me –crying in the New Year– because I just get emotional on New Years Eve lol!…I get way too reflective and sad about all my failures, flaws, fears and frustrations.

Sometimes…I’m too serious for my own good.  I call this being a realist. And reality is harsh and cold sometimes – life is not all bubbles, balloons, butterflies and ladybugs.

And so I learned long ago that joy has had to become more than a feeling because God commands that we have it.

“Rejoice evermore.” – I Thessalonians 5:16

I have to fight for it.

I have to battle for it. I have to pursue it or my own emotions of sorrow simply squelch all my joy…till I’m a puddle on the floor in tears.  And that is not the woman you see on this blog.  By God’s grace, through the ups and downs, I have experience Psalm 40:2:

“He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.”

Time and time again, I’ve slipped into a pit and found God to be my firm rock at the bottom.

And a book that has heavily influenced my joy through marriage and motherhood (and influenced the writing of my book) is John Piper’s When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight for Joy.  

Piper writes in the chapter titled When the Darkness Does Not Lift:

It will be of great advantage to the struggling Christian to remember that seasons of darkness are normal in the Christian life. I don’t mean that we should not try to live above them. I mean that if we do not succeed, we are not lost, and we are not alone, as the fragment of our faith cleaves to Christ. Consider the experience of David in Psalm 40:1-3.

I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD.

The king of Israel is in “the pit of destruction” and “the miry bog”— descriptions of his spiritual condition. The song of praise is coming, he says, but it is not now on his lips. It is as if David had fallen into a deep, dark well and plunged into life-threatening mud. There was one other time when David wrote about this kind of experience. He combined the images of mud and flood: “Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in deep mire, where there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters, and the flood sweeps over me” (Ps. 69:1-2).

In this pit of mud and destruction there is a sense of helplessness and desperation. Suddenly air, just air, is worth a million dollars. Helplessness, desperation, apparent hopelessness, the breaking point for the overworked businessman, the outer limits of exasperation for the mother of three constantly crying children, the impossible expec- tations of too many classes in school, the grinding stress of a lingering illness, the imminent attack of a powerful enemy. It is good that we don’t know what the experience was. It makes it easier to see ourselves in the pits with the king. Anything that causes a sense of helplessness and desperation and threatens to ruin life or take it away—that is the king’s pit.

HOW LONG, O LORD, HOW LONG!

Then after the cry you wait. “I waited patiently for the LORD.” This is crucial to know: Saints who cry to the Lord for deliverance from pits of darkness must learn to wait patiently for the Lord. There is no statement about how long David waited. I have known saints who walked through eight years of debilitating depression and came out into glorious light. Only God knows how long we must wait. We saw this in Micah’s experience in Chapter Six. “I sit in darkness . . . until [the Lord] pleads my cause and . . . will bring me out to the light” (see Micah 7:8- 9). We can draw no deadlines for God. He hastens or he delays as he sees fit. And his timing is all-loving toward his children. Oh, that we might learn to be patient in the hour of darkness. I don’t mean that we make peace with darkness. We fight for joy. But we fight as those who are saved by grace and held by Christ.

Friends, if you are in a time of sadness or depression, I recommend this book and if you can’t get through the first 200 pages just flip ahead to the final chapter on depression.  This chapter has been a great comfort to me AND the PDF version of this book is FREE on Piper’s website here. Yes – free! :)

I own these 4 well-worn books by John Piper.

piper books

And I have read many more books by John Piper because he offers the PDF version to over 50 books on his website FREE  at DesiringGod.org - is that not an amazing gift?  What a true minister of God’s word!  I hope you would take the time to browse his books and see if any of them can help you with a spiritual matter you are struggling with.

Chime In:  Have you struggled with a loss of joy?  How did God help you overcome this season of life?

What books have you read or recommend by John Piper?

Walk with the King,

 

 

Need more encouragement?  Pick up a copy of my book:  “Women Living Well: Finding Your Joy in God, Your Man, Your Kids and Your Home.”

My First Failure As a Mother

Pictures don’t always tell the whole story. 

I could post picture after picture of me smiling with my babies or toddlers and you might be tempted to believe that I must have birthed easy children or am some sort of super mom to be always smiling. 

The reality is I have found motherhood to be a very difficult road.  The daily sacrifice and demands of being a mom can be overwhelming at times.
The truth is – I have struggled since my first born son came out of the womb!  And I have been a reading maniac, trying to figure this thing called motherhood out!  I was quite shocked when my first born screamed and cried for the first few months on end. 
 
Let me take you back to a dark moment in my life, when I first became “a mom”…
I hold my 6 week old baby in the rocking chair. He is restless and crying so I cuddle him in and begin to nurse. He drinks for a moment and then cries. What is wrong – why is he doing this? He latches on again for a couple minutes and then stops to cry…we do this for 45 minutes and now I am sweating, unsure of myself and uneasy with how nursing is going. We stop and I just rock him. He is peaceful. We rock. He sleeps.
 
I go to my computer and google “baby crying during nursing”. I call my sisters – we discuss it – but I still don’t find my answers. I open books – no answers…never in my life have I not been able to will something I want – a goal - into happening…He awakes, we again nuzzle into our chair and I bring him to my breast. Again he cries and fusses. No one told me this would be so hard?
 
It’s Easter Sunday – I am so proud to bring my new baby out into public for the world to see – but I have a dark secret…our nursing sessions are stressful. I head up to my old bedroom in my parent’s house where I try to nurse him but he refuses to eat. Tears well up in my eyes – what is wrong with me – what is wrong with him – what do I do?
 
I sit with the lactation consultant at the hospital. She weighs him and then I nurse him for 45 minutes and then she weighs him again…I wait to hear how much milk he took in… he took in 1 ounce. “1 oz…1 OUNCE in 45 minutes!!! What have I done?  What is wrong with me?  My baby boy is starving!” He is immediately given formula – I go home cyring – Crying over my first failure as a mother.Just sharing this truth is hard for me…it’s hard to admit I did not do what is so natural for so many of you.  I want to give my children the best of me – studies show nursing is the best – and though I pumped for months and my son was a very healthy baby – I still feel guilt…and shame…over this failure. ~*I am teary even as I type this paragraph because it is still something that troubles me.  I hate the question – “did you nurse?”  and then my answer “I tried…I really did try…I don’t know what went wrong?…I failed…”
 
 
And so you may ask…well what happened when your second baby came along???  “I tried…for 5 weeks, I exclusively nursed her…then my husband went on a business trip and I was alone for a week with the 2 children.  And in my fear…the dark fear that maybe she wasn’t getting enough…and in my isolation with no one to reassure me…I gave up and gave her a bottle…I pumped and supplemented because I needed to see how much she was getting to have peace.  So the truth…I gave up…*tear…and I still have trouble forgiving myself for giving up so quickly…I failed.” 
 
Have you ever laid in bed awake at night and wondered – Why me? I don’t understand these circumstances God? Have you ever felt like a failure – like the rest of the world has it figured out and you are the only one who just can’t seem to pull it together? Your will and determination just simply aren’t enough? Your 2 year old won’t let you buckle them in the car, your 3 year old bites, your 4 year old hits, your 10 year old struggles with reading, your teenager is defiant, or your grown child is making poor decisions and you sit there helpless.
 So what do we do?
 
“Cast all your anxious thoughts on him because he cares for you.” (I Peter 5:7)

I remember laying in my bed one night when my children were toddlers and I had had a terrible day managing them.  I laid there crying over my motherhood failures and saying over and over until I fell asleep – “he cares for you, he cares for you, he cares for you, he cares for you, he cares for you, he cares for you, he cares for you.” When Satan tempts you to believe otherwise – speak this truth until you find peace. Peace washed over my soul and on a tear drenched pillow I found rest. If you are asking God “Why me?” Stop asking and remember his truth – He cares for you“- REST in this truth today.

Walk with the King!

Side note – I am not saying that not nursing your babies is failing them…but rather because I was so self-assured that I would nurse my babies till they were one yr old - I was shocked and disappointed at my failure to not reach “my goal”…God humbled me through this experience – I needed to be humbled…and he is still humbling me weekly lol! 

This post is linked to Raising Homemakers, We Are That Family, Hip Homeschool Hop and Time-Warp Wife.

My Battles With Loneliness

After posting the picture of my Good Morning Girls Group, I received a few comments and emails from sisters in Christ who are lonely and long for Christian friendships. My heart broke, as I can recall the seasons in life where I was caught in the dark cloud of loneliness.

I remember weekends in college in Chicago, when most of the girls either went home or out on dates with their boyfriends – I was homesick. I would sit in my dorm room alone eating popcorn and listening to George Winston’s Pachabel’s Canon play on repeat for hours(I still do this! lol!). I never did go out on dates in college – not once – I was dating Keith long distance. I poured over God’s word on those long weekends and filled in the gaping dark hole with God’s presence.

Finally, I married Keith after 4 long years apart and we moved to Columbus, Ohio for him to finish college at Ohio State University. I was in a new town – with a new name – with a new job – and a new church. I recall walking into my first Bible study in the new church and no one greeting me. I sat alone and was very uncomfortable. I had made some non-Christian friends at work. But I longed for a safe refuge of Christian friends where I could let my guard down and be myself. It took about 18 months before I developed my first “real” Christian friendship…it was a long lonely 18 months.

Then I moved home after 7 years away. I had finally made Christian friends back in Columbus – but here I was “alone” again! I pulled out a prayer journal from my first week home and I had written in there… “Help me Lord to not get into a rut of self pity as it is hard in a new town with no friends.” Looking back it’s humorous. I wasn’t in a new town? I was in my hometown. These weren’t new friends? They were old friends. But I was scared – I had changed in 7 years – so had they – would they accept me?

David, “a man after God’s own heart”, was lonely. In Psalm 25:16 he said to the Lord, “Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.” David turned to God.

If we choose to turn away from God in response to our loneliness we will go down a very cold road
. Job and Elijah felt so alone they wanted to die. Jeremiah wished he had never even been born. Satan can use this time to enter sinful thoughts into our minds such as self pity, self-centeredness, bitterness, anger, and jealousy. We may attempt to put a band aid on the pain by turning to the television, alcohol, shopping, binge eating, or excessive computer time.

But, the only comfort I ever found was in releasing my needs to God in prayer and then trusting God. If you are struggling with loneliness today I encourage you to read Psalm 84:11,12. Place your trust in God, then go one step further and delight yourself in God as the rest of Psalm 84 says.

Stop being jealous, stop shopping, stop suppressing the pain with food. I testify as one lonely sister to another (*tears are stinging as I write this next line because God has taught me this truth through tears over and over and over and I pray with all my heart you will grasp this) - it has been in my trusting and delighting – that God has filled the God shaped hole inside of me, to the brim.


In time, God will bring you the fellowship you long for but never let your friends replace your Walk with the King,

Hip Homeschool Hop Button Raising Homemakers

This Is What I Do When Life Hurts

The Making Your Home a Haven Challenge is over and I miss reading all of your link-ups already!!! Thank you for helping me make October special in my home – your accountability truly helped me! I have the most amazing readers ever! Keep it up!

Today I’m thinking about the reader who is frustrated with her home and feels that it is anything BUT a haven. I turn to Psalm 23 and I think about the inner dialogue of a woman who is hurting…

1 – The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want. (want. want. want. I want…)

2. He makes me lie down (lie down…if only I could lie down for just 20 minutes…if only if only if only) in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters. (quiet. quiet. quiet…this home is so loud…television, ipods, cell phones, chatter, I can’t get a moment of quiet here).

3. He restores my soul (my soul. needs. restored. …it hurts). He guides me in paths of righteousness. (I am so alone…I have no one who understands…if only I had someone to get me out of this mess. mess. mess. Someone besides me please clean up this mess!).

4. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil (what if. what if. what if. what if I’m not enough?) for you are with me (you are? why are you so silent God?); your rod and your staff they comfort me. (comfort. who needs comfort. I am strong. I will pick myself up and press on. I am not weak.)

5. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies, you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. (overflows. overflows. overflows. Dirty dishes overflow, closets overflow, my trash cans overflow, my laundry baskets overflow, my calender overflows…if everything is so full – why do I feel so empty?)

6. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life. (follow. follow. follow. I feel like difficulties, trials, disappointments, bad relationships and financial problems follow me… goodness? love? follow me?) and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. (put on fake smile. I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever…BUT…I want. I want. I want. if only. if only. if only. my soul hurts. mess. mess. mess. I am weak. no. I am strong. empty. empty. empty.)

Do you hear the self talk? Do you hear what is happening between this woman’s two ears? She is saying rotten things to herself about her life, about the people in her life, about her circumstances, and even about God. And then she wonders…why? don’t? I? have? peace?

The problem is not out there – it’s inside of her. Romans 12:2 says, “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Do you want to see a change in your home? It starts in your mind.


The Lord is indeed your Shepherd and you shall not be in want. You must claim these truths. Let him lead you by still waters…are you thirsty? Sit still. Drink a tall glass of his living word! Let him restore your soul. He is with you. He loves you. You will one day dwell in his house forever. You only have one life and living it in the Eeyore state is not living at all!

Are you in a storm? Do you need help? Psalm 121:1 says, “I lift up my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”

At the core – I am empty, ugly, self-seeking, insecure, questioning myself to death regularly (even cried for about 30 minutes in my husband’s office this week over my fears. fears. fears. and failures). I hurt. I struggle. I wrestle. But then – I lift my eyes up to the maker of the heavens and the earth and this world pauses for just a moment and all my ugly thoughts and self talk are washed away by his love, grace and peace. The storms do not disappear but seeing a glimpse of the sunshine that awaits me, lifts me up when I am weak. I am weak. I am weak. He is strong. And so I rest. And he restores.
(If you are discouraged, I pray you will take just 5 minutes to let this song speak truth into your life. Stop the inner dialogue and habits of doubt and negative self talk and fill your mind with truth. truth. truth. You must hear the truth.)

Praise You in This Storm / Casting Crowns

I was sure by now,God, that You would have reached down

and wiped our tears away,

stepped in and saved the day.

But once again, I say amen

and it’s still raining

as the thunder rolls

I barely hear You whisper through the rain,

“I’m with you”

and as Your mercy falls

I raise my hands and praise

the God who gives and takes away.

Chorus:

And I’ll praise you in this storm

and I will lift my hands

for You are who You are

no matter where I am

and every tear I’ve cried

You hold in your hand

You never left my side

and though my heart is torn

I will praise You in this storm

I remember when I stumbled in the wind

You heard my cry to You

and raised me up again

my strength is almost gone how can I carry on

if I can’t find You

and as the thunder rolls

I barely hear You whisper through the rain

“I’m with you”

and as Your mercy falls

I raise my hands and praise

the God who gives and takes away

Chorus

I lift my eyes onto the hills

where does my help come from?

My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth

I lift my eyes onto the hills

where does my help come from?

My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth

Walk with the King!

I am linking up here :

I Wish I Had a Counseling Degree

There are times I receive emails from my dear readers that contain questions far too difficult for me to answer. When the questions are beyond my experience or studies I often say “I’m sorry I am not a counselor. You need to seek out a pastor, trusted Godly friend or call Focus on the Family’s 1-800 number (1-800-232-6459). I deeply regret this is beyond my expertise.”

There are moments I feel inept to write on this blog because I am not a counselor – I just don’t know all the answers and I so wish I did!~

Thankfully there is a counsellor all believers have access to who supersedes all counseling degrees – the Holy Spirit! Jesus says in John 14: 16-17 “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever – the Spirit of truth.”

Anne Graham Lotz says:

“Jesus described the Holy Spirit as “Another.” The Greek word actually means “another who is exactly the same.” So although the Holy Spirit is a distinct person, He is exactly the same as Jesus, but without the physical body. He has been described as Jesus without skin. Or, like an FBI agent, He is Jesus undercover.”

Dear hurting Christian sister, you may feel all alone in your trials and difficulties. But you are not. Jesus has sent “another” counselor with the same mind, emotions, intellect and wisdom into our hearts to guide, comfort, direct, and help us manage our way through life.

Have you yielded to this Counselor the Holy Spirit? You must first be in his word, in prayer and in stillness – to sense his clear leading, comfort and guidance.

If you are hurting today – practice the presence of God in your life. Psalm 139:7-10 says:

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.”
Know that he is always with you. Surrender your will to him. Be still – listen – move forward in peace.

Walk with the King!

If anyone knows of any other organizations with toll free numbers for readers who need a counselor can you please leave it in the comment section. I will use it as a resource for ladies who are hurting. Thank you for your help.

holy experience