In the Dry and Doubt

“Your life will be changed forever.”

How many times did you hear this going into motherhood?

I heard it so many times, that it actually lost its meaning.

Well, duh, my life will be changed forever. I’m going from worrying only about myself, to having a tiny human that is 100% dependent on me for survival.

But what I didn’t think about, was the very literal meaning of this saying. Your life will actually change. YOU will change. Everything you thought you knew about yourself, your spouse, and life, will completely slap you in the face and laugh…because you knew nothing before you had children.

What I didn’t see coming, was how much transformation my own brain would do once I became a mom.

The first time around, I felt myself grow up a little more. I saw the world a little differently, became more protective, and cared less about myself and how I was perceived by the world. It was a pretty easy postpartum period, in hindsight.

This second time around postpartum, things have been different. I not only have a baby, but I also have a 3.5 year old who has literally been the center of my world since we met. My tastes and preferences have changed. My social surroundings have changed. Even my interactions with my family have changed.

But what I wasn’t prepared for, was the way my brain would start to process what I thought I already knew so well. Maybe it’s having a very logical and curious 3 year old who asks “why” 10,000 times a day and wants me to literally prove everything I say.

When Coven was born, I was on cloud nine. My pregnancy and delivery were both dreams that had come true. He was a very healthy baby boy, and our family was ecstatic to meet him. At first, I thought he was going to make me feel more complete. 

However, in the weeks to follow after his birth, something happened. Postpartum hormones and emotions…yes of course. But what I didn’t see coming was the way my postpartum brain would start to perceive my own world. I all of the sudden felt completely lost. I felt torn away from my own mind and body. I felt socially awkward and like I wanted to hide from everyone – including my best friends and family.

I can’t say that I suffered from PPD. I read the questions at my postpartum checkup (and multiple times thereafter) and felt like I could honestly answer “no” or “never” to questions that asked about blaming myself for things or crying unexplainably. It wasn’t that I was upset or depressed…but I was completely disconnected. What and who was I, aside from being a mom? I felt like I didn’t know anymore.

One of the larger ways in which this was affecting my life was my spirituality. I have always been a believer. I grew up going to Sunday school, went to youth groups all through-out my childhood, and even met my husband in the church. But suddenly, I questioned whether or not I had any foundation at all. I felt spiritually homeless. It was the most spiritually dry I had ever been. I felt so far from our church and from all our friends there. And the worst part is…I couldn’t tell anyone. I was so afraid of what people might think if I shared that I was in this desert-dry place. My family’s life has been centered around the church – and suddenly (and quite honestly), I wanted to run from it.

The more I had these intense feelings of despair and confusion, the more freaked out I became. I was so scared of where these thoughts would lead me. I remember the first night I opened up to Tyson about it all. I was so nervous, I could barely spit any words out. I had been playing through what I was going to say in my head over and over, and when it came time to talk…I struggled.

And then I opened up again, and again, and again. All to friends who are believers and in the same stage of life as me. And you want to know what they all said? Doubt is a friend to faith: don’t be afraid of your doubt.

Doubt. The word I had been feeling, but was far too terrified to say out loud.

I was having doubts about my faith. What did I actually believe? What didn’t I believe? When Holden asks me about the stories and miracles of Jesus in his kids storybook bible…Could I tell them again with confidence? He would ask me, “but how could he walk on water?” “How did that man get his eyes back?” And I would stay really safe and go with: “I don’t know, bud. He just…did.”

I couldn’t repeat my faith with conviction.

I couldn’t vouch with confidence on Jesus’ behalf.

I was honestly and wholly, a well gone dry.

And I know you’re wondering…Yes, I’m still going through this.

The difference between then and now, however, is that I’m taking the advice that was given to me, and embracing the doubt. I’m trying to be more invested in where this doubt will lead me, who will show up, and what will be revealed.

I’ve always grown up thinking that doubt was the boogeyman. If you’re doubting the Word, you’re doubting Jesus. And if you doubt Jesus, you’re doubting God. And if you doubt God…well, you’re better off just not doubting.

My volleyball season just started. There is something that I have told my girls almost every day for the past 7 years of coaching: If you aren’t being challenged, you aren’t getting better. If you aren’t putting yourself out of your comfort zone, you are not improving. 

If believers aren’t challenging what they already know and practice, how do they continue to grow in what they believe in without becoming stagnant? If you go day in and day out, going through the motions and never doubting or challenging what else is out there, how can you say your way is the only way? If one part of the world grows up believing a truth that their parents taught them (that their grandparents taught them, and so on), how can we conclude that “truth” is above what another part of the world or culture believes?

I have many friends who aren’t believers or believe in different things than me. How can I say that their way of living is wrong, just because it isn’t the same as mine? They are some of the best, kind-hearted, and loving humans I have ever met. To be frank, they are more kind and loving than some believers I know. So, “if the greatest of all these is LOVE,” then how can I say they are wrong?

These are just some of the thoughts that have been taking over my concentration for the last 4 months. And if you’re a friend or family member of mine: before you go all evangelical on me…please know that I am not running from the church. I am simply practicing what I preach and going out of my comfort zone to grow. I encourage you to do the same.

The moment I embraced this doubt and challenged where I stood, doors started to open.

I came across Science Mike’s story on the Liturgists Podcast. A southern baptist, turned atheist, who found his faith again through science. I’m currently reading his book, Finding God in the Waves, a narrative about his life and the unraveling of his faith, and then how is love for science brought him back to God again. Yes, you read that right. How science brought him back to God. 

Since this journey of mine began, I also started this blog. I’ve been wanting to start a blog for the last 3 years since my design website went up, but it has taken a very long time. Why now when I’m doing 10,000 other things? I’m not sure about the timing… but my mind has been so thirsty to share what has been happening to me, that I feel like this blog was made for something more all along.

Most importantly, what I’m realizing as I dig deep and really ask myself the hard questions, is that I’ve never challenged what I believed in before. There have been seasons of my life that I pressed in to my faith closer than others, and there have also been seasons where I continuously put God on the back burner. But have I ever truly questioned everything that I’ve ever been told or read, so that I could follow my faith wholeheartedly without any reservations? I can’t say for sure because of how clouded my brain is right now with where I am currently at. But I don’t think so.

So this is me proclaiming my journey of faith and discovering God for who I know He is. Not just who or what someone else tells me He is. I’m admitting that I have questions and that I don’t want to isolate anymore. As my pastor said last weekend: What’s not OK is to isolate and let our pain form us into something that God doesn’t have for us. Even if you don’t believe in a God – you weren’t meant to isolate.

My hope is that I’ll be able to organize my thoughts a little more as I process them through my keyboard. And that I will help people feel comforted in those doubts and questions running through their heads. Or that I would encourage believers to step back and double-check the foundation of their faith. It’s ok to have questions on the things you are building your life on. If you were signing an eternal lease with your landlord, wouldn’t you want to know everything about the roof you’d be under?

Thanks for joining me, friends.