Monday, August 11, 2014

My Faith is Fragile--Part 2--Going Through the Motions

I thought I had a strong foundation of faith. Through the struggles and challenges I've faced, I've always felt like I had my trust in God and that I trusted Him over me. I felt as though I knew He had a plan and that He would help me through any obstacle. He had thus far. I hadn't ever thought that there would be anything I could encounter that would shake that faith. 

Before I progress any further, I guess I should explain a little about myself. In high school, one of my teachers named me the "Eternal Optimist." I believed in everything, God, love, happy endings, all of it. I was enamored with the beauty in life and thought positively to my very core. It wasn't until after I met Zach and fell in love so hard it scared me, that I started to realize that life was fragile. I realized I wasn't promised a long life on earth with him and I started to lose a bit of my optimism. 

As per the mission of this blog, these pictures may not be pretty, but they really do show how I was feeling at the time. So very in love and happy and so not myself. This is real life. 

Fear and logic started to overpower belief. It started out as a thought here and there. Throughout my pregnancy it started to become a bigger problem. My way of thinking became that of constant worry. I always feel too blessed and feel like maybe something has to happen to even the score. I am just bound to experience some kind of tragedy. Usually I can battle these feelings with prayer, a visit to the temple, time at church, or just talking to my husband. The closer and closer I got to the birth of my baby, the more intense this feeling became. 

The birth of my daughter went better than I had ever expected, considering the circumstances of a last minute induction. I remember feeling gratitude throughout my labor and delivery. I openly prayed with gratitude of thanks to Heavenly Father and the baby. I thanked my husband, our doula, and my mom throughout the process. I thanked the doctors and nurses who honored and respected my wishes and helped me bring my baby into this world safely. I remember minutes after JaiseAnn was born, I was just thanking everyone. God, JaiseAnn, a nurse who wiped me down with a warm wash cloth, everyone who was in the room received an expression of gratitude from me. It was the best moment of my life and I was so happy and relieved and grateful.

And then I had a few hours more to fall in love with my little girl. With that love came an intense and crippling fear that I cannot put into words, but can say for certain--I've never experienced before. I was so worried something would happen to her, me, or Zach. This was too good to be true. I didn't deserve this. It was too much. I would have to pay. 

This anxious worry consumed me the first few days of my daughter's life. Two days after being home from the hospital I was readmitted because my blood pressure was increasing, not decreasing as it should have. I had never been in the hospital due to illness or any health problems. I was sure I would come home that night or the next day. 

One day led to another and I found myself in the hospital for five days. It was too much for me. I was so scared. By the end of the second day, I felt like I was losing my mind. I was certain I was dying. It was irrational, but I felt trapped. Of course I was dying. My life had just truly felt like it had begun. I wasn't going to get to raise JaiseAnn. I wouldn't really get to be a mom. 

I prayed and prayed for two or three days straight. When I had a few minutes alone in my hospital room, I got on my knees and prayed with all of my heart. When I was alone with JaiseAnn in my room, I sang primary songs and hymns to her. I never felt peace. I never felt comfort. I felt fear. I felt sadness. I felt hopeless. 

These are things I had never before felt or experienced. 

I talked at length with many people about this and I received Priesthood blessings. I wanted to hope, but I couldn't. At the end of my stay in the hospital, I had taught myself to be afraid to pray. "It won't help anyway." "If something's going to happen to me, Heavenly Father knows it and He won't change it, he'll only try to change me and my heart. I want to stay. I want to be here with my daughter. I want to be a Mom. If something's going to happen to me, I will not change my mind about it. I don't want to talk to Him."

In all my life, I've never felt afraid to pray. But I did then. 

I am almost positive that part of my overwhelming anxiety and fear had to do with intense sleep deprivation and severe hormone fluctuations. I was only one week postpartum when I was sent home again. The fear and hopelessness lessened only slightly. I was home, but I was still certain I was too blessed. Something bad was just bound to happen and I wasn't about to pray.

But I did. I still kept praying. I didn't give up my faith even though it failed me. I still kept going through the motions. I went to church, I said my prayers, and I tried so hard to feel a change of heart.
A little more like me. 

It didn't come.

Still, I kept at it. And one Sunday, when JaiseAnn was five months old, I had my first spiritual experience since she'd been born. I finally felt something other than fear. I finally felt a little bit of faith.

When you've been low on faith (the lowest you've ever been) without real reason, it doesn't make sense and it can be scary--especially if you've lived your whole life with faith--usually in abundance. That loss was heavily felt and the little bit that I felt I got back that day was such a welcome relief. 

I still have questions and things I don't understand. I often wonder what people mean when they say to "Trust God" with your children and family. What does that mean? I don't understand God's role in tragedy and trial, even though I hear about it very regularly through my studies and attendance at church. I still don't quite get what My Heavenly Father's role is when it comes to my suffering and my sadness. Maybe I never will.

At about five months. This is the best picture I have that shows the definite change in my countenance. 
But I'm studying more and praying more and thankfully feeling more. My heart is in it a little bit more. Sometimes we struggle...whether it's our faith, our feelings and thoughts about ourselves or others, our relationships, our finances, etc. When those struggles come, sometimes we just have to keep moving as though we aren't struggling. We keep going and doing what has always worked for us in the past. Sometimes that's all it takes and sometimes it takes more, but we get there. 

Have you ever experienced something like this? What has worked or works for you?

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