I don’t know about you but it seems that 2019 was a hard year for a lot of people. Most people I speak to say that they were glad to see the back of it. I am one of them. 2019 has trumped all the other hard years that I thought I’ve had before. And I’m pleased that it’s done.

 

There’s something sad about that because one of the best things happened to me and it almost feels like that should overshadow the trials. My beautiful second daughter was born. What a joy she is in my life! She is a sunny, content baby and just a delight! She smiles constantly, loves me unconditionally, sleeps through and is quite happy to entertain herself – life seldom gets her down.

 

But she wasn’t always like that. The days after she was born were some of the darkest I’ve ever known. Those of you who followed me through that time know that I spoke about how I wasn’t coping in The Ugly Truth. I wanted it all to end. I felt like I was in a pit, a pit that no one who hasn’t suffered through a degree of depression would understand. There is no escape. Although I didn’t want to end my life, I did think everyone would be better off without me. I did fantasise about crashing my car, throwing plates across the kitchen and ripping the curtains from the rail. I threw dirty nappies across the room, sobbed daily, screamed at my two-year-old, slammed doors and called my husband out of staff meetings in desperation. I lay on the kitchen floor wanting to sleep for years to numb the hollowness and despair.

 

My baby had colic that rivaled my firstborn’s. She was unpredictable and impossible to medicate. I wore her on me from 7am until 10pm for three months. My husband would relieve me in the evenings.  We co-slept just to pacify the exhaustion.

 

I developed something that, without proper diagnosis, sounded like stress-induced IBS that lasted a good 6 months. I was then diagnosed with post-natal depression and put onto anti-depressants.

 

Finances were tight. IBS symptoms made me lose weight. Depression crippled me. And I felt very, very alone even though I would have support, should I request it, at the drop of a hat.

 

Life felt hollow, fragile and insecure. I was anxious, afraid that I would lose loved ones. I felt like I was drowning under the insurmountable pressures and demands.

 

And it felt as though God was putting me through the fire to test how much I loved Him. It felt like He wanted to see how far I could be pushed to see whether I would remain faithful. In the colic days, I was determined not to be angry that I was in the very situation I had prayed against for months. I tried to pray about it but as the colic became more unpredictable, I began to get angry. The more I prayed about it – and I didn’t pray for it to go away, I just prayed for strength to deal with it – the more and more volatile I became and less and less able to cope. And that’s what made me angry because it wasn’t even as if I was praying for it to go away. I was just praying that I would manage and I wasn’t.

 

But it’s not to say that 2019 was not filled with many things that the Lord taught me. I learnt (I would like to think) humility. In so many areas of my life!

 

But I can’t pretend that I wasn’t excited by the prospect of a new year.

 

As we all do, I had a host of things I wanted to change. First and foremost, I wanted to sit down and “plan” my year. I wanted to spread myself over a surface and brainstorm how I could be a better wife, a better mother, a better housekeeper, a better everything. I wanted to put something down on paper. It took weeks for me to get there but I felt a little more “in control” when I finally managed.

 

I came across Diane in Denmark‘s “New Year, New You” challenge and immediately was on board! Anything to control the chaos of housekeeping with two tots in the house.

 

But as I sat down to pray about the new year, I came to realise the one thing I craved. I wanted to stop being scared. I was exhausted from living in fear and thinking the worst. I was tired of being frustrated, tired of fearing regret, tired of losing precious moments I had longed for all my life – just tired. And I had had enough of thinking the Lord was sending trials my way so as to prove my love for Him.

 

I welled up just thinking how much I craved to know the richness of the depth of my Father’s love for me! I feel like handing myself completely over to Him invites Him to put me through the fire. Like I’ll jinx it if I say that I trust Him. It’s also easy to believe that He loves the human race collectively. But me? That’s a lot harder. Maybe it’s because I know the selfishness and ungodliness of my heart. It’s easy to make myself “look good” to other people but I know what’s really going on under the facade. And I know that God knows my depravity too. It’s hard to believe that He would choose to love me when there are others more godly or more “lost” or seemingly more “in need” of His love. I don’t feel worthy because I am lukewarm – I sit somewhere in the middle. I don’t feel so sinful that God wouldn’t love me. It’s actually worse than that. I feel that, because of my complacency, apathy, “middle-classness” and selfishness that I am undeserving.

 

Isn’t it funny that we feel the need to be worthy of God’s love? And isn’t it sad that we think His love is conditional. I know that it’s not but I believe the lie that Satan whispers in my ear – that I need to be worthy before God loves me. That I need to please Him to earn His love. That I need to prove my love for Him before He’ll love me back. Why do I think He’s cruel? Why do I think He’s out to make my life miserable to test whether I will praise Him in the storm?

 

Do I do this as a parent? Do I bring misery on my children to see if they will still love me? Do I expect them to earn love from me? No! I love my children regardless of how they behave, how good or bad they’ve been and whether or not they reciprocate love.

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” Matt 7:11

 

If I can, though I am a fallen human being, can love my child deeply, then how much more will God, who is perfect, love me?!?

 

I pray that this year, I would be able (even in part),

“to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.” Ephesians 3:18

 

This love is passionate, intimate, unconditional and everlasting. Oh, how I long to understand! May this year be one that I know the love the Father has lavished on me that I should be called His child!

 

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