Stefani's most-fantastical-reads book montage

Crooked Kingdom
Six of Crows
Yellow Brick War
The Wicked Will Rise
Charm & Strange
Their Fractured Light
These Broken Stars
Big Little Lies
I'll Be There
Red Queen

Stefani's favorite books »

Monday, January 18, 2016

Measuring up...

It's been an entire year since I sat down with a blank page and cursor in front of me... I wish that my first post back was something positive, something uplifting. I DO have those posts in my drafts folder - they are unfinished and don't have the burning urgency to post that this one does. So they will stay there and the raw, icky reality of life will make its way onto this page instead.

My life has forever been a battle of measuring up. Before I continue let me assure you that I KNOW that this isn't reality, I know that the things I tremble before are NOT the important things in life. Intellectually, I know this. I may know it but I can't make myself believe it lately.

I have been trying to unravel the mess of how I ended up here - how I went from relatively "okay" with life back to a place where I am on a razor-sharp precipice between holding it together and absolute darkness. There isn't one event or circumstance that has landed me here - it's a mess of different little things that have snowballed together. This is my attempt at untangling it all..

Weight. This is probably the most all-consuming thought on my mind. It would appear that five pounds is the difference between sanity and insanity for me. I know that (rationally) it is a small number, that my overall weight is not something to be concerned about... blah. blah. blah. As I said before, knowing and believing are two different concepts completely in my book. My clothes don't fit right. I loathe what I see in the mirror and in pictures. I have never tried to lose weight by doing anything normal. When I have wanted to drop pounds, I starved myself. It was a very simple equation. No food = smaller numbers on the scale. I don't know how to pick just healthy items. I don't know how to moderate my intake anymore. Binge eating is new to me and completely terrifying. When I was in out-patient therapy for my last bought with anorexia I was told to "just eat" and to learn to enjoy food again. That advice worked for a time but now it has come back to bite me in the ass in a completely different way. I can't make portion control work. I want Oreos, especially when I feel like the world is laying its weight on my shoulders. I don't want to go back, I don't want to ever have to deal with my eating disorder like that again. The problem is that I value my weight more than my health. I don't want to. I wish it to be different but it's not.

Parenting. I feel like the ultimate failure as a mother. I watch other people with their kids and I wonder what in the hell I am doing wrong. One child doesn't sleep. Ever. I have had to lock her door at night because she roams the house at all hours of the night, watching Netflix and eating everything in the house. She goes into the garage to search for food and I am terrified she'll find some chemical that wasn't put away properly or eventually, walk right out the front door. She lies. Constantly. She has ADHD that drives me up the wall. She still doesn't sleep through the night without a pull up. My son is nearly 4 and still barely communicates verbally (in human). I can't get him to sit through Sunday school because he refuses to listen to a teacher. He will not potty train. No matter what I do I can't fix these things. I can't find a way to make my kid sleep. She walks around with dark circles under her eyes and is exhausted 98% of the time but I can't make her sleep. I can't even keep her in her room, despite child locks and threats and every incentive system Pinterest has to offer. I can't get my son to talk. There is no amount of coaxing or teaching that will get this child to speak unless he wants to. The exact same problem arises whenever I try to feed him something that doesn't start with "peanut butter and...". We don't eat as a family. I don't cook family meals. Hell, I barely cook. On my days off I spend my time avoiding them, not playing with them because I am so tired and angry and resentful. What kind of mother feels that way about her kids?? I love them with every fiber of my being... and yet I want to lock myself in my bedroom and hid under the covers whenever I am home alone with them.

Work. I can't go into detail about this lest someone file a complaint about it. It's safe to say I could write pages on this topic.

Faith. This season of my life is one of isolation. I feel alone even when I am in a room with the people I love most. My prayer life feels repetitive and empty. I am constantly "doing my homework" in my devotions, not yearning for the knowledge and connection to Christ that I felt six months ago.

I have lost my joy. I have lost who I know I am and who I know I can be. I have been sucked back to this void, this darkness where I can't feel anything anymore.

I know it is temporary. I know this is just a bumpy patch. I know that I will look back on this at some indeterminate time in the future and see the lesson that I learned or some person strength that I acquired. I have been through the dark before and come out the other side but being in the midst is painful, its scary, and it is so very lonely.


{This post was written on 4/15/15 - it would appear I haven't come far in a year...}

We are not saved or justified by works but by the grace of God.

How many times I have I heard this preached in church? How many times have I read it in my devotional or in an uplifting email in my morning inbox?

Answer? More times that I can count.

Do I believe it? Yes, because it is written in the bible. Sorta, because I struggle to comprehend the kind of love and grace and acceptance that is poured out by Christ being "free". No, because I still hold myself accountable to God and to myself in a works-based mindset.

The scary part of struggling with this concept is that if, by my logic, I fail at my works - marriage, parenthood, teaching, discipleship.. by my logic (NOT God's), if I fail, I lose out on that grace, love, and forgiveness that I crave.

Right now, I feel like a failure because of my struggles with parenting and my struggle with the idols of material goods, success, and body image.

Parenting has been hard from the start - don't get me wrong. From day one I have wondered how and IF I was really prepared for the selfless work it took to be a good mom. I am selfish by nature - it is something that I battle constantly. If I need something, then I get it. If I want something, then I get it. If it stresses relationships, I still pursue it because MY needs come first. Is this right? HA! No - and please don't think for a second that I an proud of it. Take that selfish nature and put it in the context of parenting (or marriage for that matter) and one can easily see a thousand ways that selfishness can ruin the type of relationship I am trying to nurture with my children. The battles that we are going through with Addison are hard enough that, I believe, they would push any mother to her breaking point (and THAT is a whole different post). I pray every night for the strength to approach our struggles with love and understanding. Then I wake up to a destroyed house, a raided (and lied about) pantry, a child up watching movies at 3 am - and I come completely unglued. I'm not loving and understanding - I'm angry, I'm selfish. In the heat of the moment, I don't wonder what is going on in her body that has driven her to get up and ruin her favorite things, I don't wonder why she doesn't tell the truth even when being caught is inevitable, I don't wonder what it's like to lay awake all night with nothing to do, no way to fall asleep, and a body that NEEDS to move. In the heat of the moment, I see the mess, I hear the lie, I feel the frustration of being woken from MY sleep. I fail at being the loving parent that Jesus commissioned me to be. I end up being a bit of a bitch.

Thou shall have no other gods before Me.

For my ENTIRE life, I thought that was the one commandment that I had in the bag. I didn't worship gold idols or other anything crazy like that. Then my world was flipped upside down by Timothy Keller and the preaching staff at our church started talking about what idols really are. They aren't necessarily golden calves - they are all the things that we put before God in our lives.






Hearing that, realizing that, and evaluating myself on that commandment was a sobering experience. I have spent my life adoring money and the things that it could buy. Brand names, new things, shiny objects - all those things were idols in my life.

Success in my career, status, accolades - I thought that working hard and earning recognition was  the end game of my job. But when I was hit with crippling jealousy over the "teacher of the year" award in our district this year I realized that I have placed WAY too much importance on my job and my career and on being acknowledged by others instead of doing what I know is right and good and letting that be all the satisfying enough.

I thought that my dedication to my kids and the fact that I put them ahead of all else was something to be proud of. It felt natural to me that a mother should put her children above all else in her family. Then I learned that I was wrong again. Yes, my children are important and raising them and loving them are some of the most important aspects of my self - however it is Derek that I should put above the rest. I have let everything else come first and then I have given what I have left to Derek. I am living backwards.

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