Saturday, April 23, 2016

Fourteen Months Later...

I didn't write in March. I didn't write in April. I didn't write in May. I didn't write in June... You get the picture. 

It's been 14 months since my last blog post. 

14 interesting, 
                             (sometimes) joyful MONTHS.

As most of you know, a little over a year ago we added two foster children to our family. We thought we were prepared. We thought we knew what we were stepping in to. We thought a lot of things. But there was only one thing we knew for sure. God had called us to a task and we were going to accept it.

They came on a Thursday. It was the Thursday before Easter. I cried for four days straight. 

I. was. scared.

Adding an 8 and 9 year-old to your home overnight is pretty scary. Not knowing ANYTHING about their past and what they've been through is scary. Suddenly having to divide your attention between three school age children rather than one....well, it ain't easy.

We honestly thought they'd only be with us for a short time.  
     Maybe a couple of months.      
          Maybe until the end of summer.

By the end of July it was obvious they would be with us a while. 

Now, as most of you know, I'm a tad bit controlling. I like to be in control and I like my own personal space. I'm not used to having someone under my feet all day long and I don't have a high tolerance when it comes to 'neediness'. When it became clear that I would be parenting three children into the beginning of another school year...I. freaked. out.

It had already been a rough summer. I was always anxious. As sweet as our foster children are, they have their moments. I was used to Franklyn. Calm, honest, loving, obedient, Franklyn. Now I had two children in my home that were sassy, defiant, and dishonest. I couldn't control them like I could control Franklyn with just a look. The fear and realization of my inability to control my situation was manifesting itself in near panic attacks. I would be in the car sitting at a red light and I'd suddenly feel faint and sick because I couldn't control the fact that I couldn't move my vehicle. It got to the point that I would avoid stopping at red lights altogether. And there were NO left turns at red lights for this girl! At least traffic was able to move voluntarily at right turns... Honestly, red lights just freaked me out either way. It didn't matter if I was driving or if I was the passenger. It just seemed like my world was spinning out of control. 

If there's one thing I've been proud of over the last 23 years of my life, it's the fact that I've battled depression and anxiety without medication. If you've read my previous posts, you know my story. I've been through some difficult times, but the Lord has always been gracious to see me through. I could tell this time around might be different. I prayed my little heart out. I clung to Him like glue. I memorized Scripture. I tried, minute by minute, to hand it over to Him. I felt like a failure because it just wasn't happening. I wasn't able to move past my fear. I wasn't able to just trust that He was in control and I didn't need to be. My brain just wouldn't let me.

That's right.

My brain wouldn't let me.

One morning I was drying Anna's hair and I had on one of my favorite, lazy day t-shirts. She's observant and she is quite the little inquisitor.. She stared intently at my shirt while I was battling her long, blonde hair. I was undoubtedly in a world all my own, thinking about all the errands ahead of me and plotting what side roads I would take to complete them. After a few minutes, she asked, "Ma, what does that mean?" She pointed to the picture and the Scripture reference on the front of my faded blue t-shirt. I stopped the whirring of the hairdryer, looked down at my shirt, and tried to explain...

"Well, it's kind of like the cure for anxiety, Anna. You know how the Bible says that God takes care of the birds and we can trust Him to take care of us? The little chick represents the birds and it says 'no worries' because He's in control and there's nothing we can do to change that. We should just trust Him in everything, every situation. If we do that, we should have no worries." 

              "Look at the birds of the sky: They don't sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your                       heavenly Father feeds them. Aren't you worth more than they? Can any of you add a                   single cubit to his height by worrying?" Matthew 6:26-27

My words stung. So, if I was trusting Him and abiding in Him like I was, why wasn't I able to move past my fear? It dawned on me that there might be something else going on. Might God be trying to teach me something about pride? Might He be working in my life to show me that although I was giving Him the glory for seeing me through the last 23 years, I might also be holding on to a little pride in thinking that I didn't 'need' medication? I have nothing against medication, but I didn't want to be dependent on anything. Nothing other than Christ, that is.

 A couple of days after that conversation, and after a lot of prayer, I decided to go see our family doctor. I'd talked to my son's pediatrician (who is also a family friend from church) and he had encouraged me to consider medication. I was so fearful. What if I was stepping out of God's will? What if this meant I wasn't trusting Him enough? Would God be disappointed in me? What if medication didn't help and I lost hope altogether?

I sat in my doctor's office with tears running down my face before he ever even entered the room. It was only the second time I'd ever been to see him, so what if he thought I was crazy? The first time I'd been to see him was for my physical for foster parenting. We'd discussed foster care and he'd mentioned that he was a Christian and had even attended seminary before deciding on medical school. I felt as if God would help him to see me through the eyes of Christ. When he came in he asked me what was going on and I just started bawling. I explained that I'd been through anxiety attacks before and I'd made it through by relying on Scripture and the Holy Spirit. I didn't want to be dependent on medication. But, I cried, I just didn't think I could do it this time. It felt different. He looked at me with compassion and spoke with such wisdom. "Kari," he said, "there's nothing that breaks my heart more than patients that come in and share stories like yours." He went on to ask me what I'd do if I had a broken back or even cancer. Would I seek treatment or would I suffer and just expect God to heal me? He explained that what was going on in my head was no different. I would use medication to treat an ailing body and there would be nothing wrong with me using medication to treat my ailing mind.

I left that office with tears in my eyes and joy in my heart. Someone understood, and someone put it in terms I could relate to. I filled a prescription for Celexa that day. I started taking it the next morning. Every morning I take the pill and thank God for providing it. I can't tell you the difference in how I feel. There used to be days where the world would just seem dark, no matter how blue the sky might be. There were days where I would feel overwhelmed and it seemed as if a dark cloud was all around me. I honestly don't have those days anymore. Eventually the fear of sitting at red lights began to subside. There's a little lingering anxiety in that regard, but it's nothing like it was last summer. There are days where my circumstances feel overwhelming, but that's completely normal. 

I feel as if God has done amazing work in my life over the last year. He's shown me how selfish, prideful, impatient, and downright blackhearted I can be. With a clearer mind, I can see these things for what they are. With unclouded focus, I can see Him more clearly. I am still dependent on Him, but medication has given me the clarity to see who I am in Him.

"To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under Heaven..." Ecclesiastes 3:1

Isn't it amazing 
                        how much can change
                                                           in just 14 short months?