Moving Forward 

I’ll admit – it hasn’t been easy for me. Moving forward has not been easy.

Whenever any one of us goes through something painful or traumatic, muddling through the aftermath can be almost just as hard as when you were going through the negative experience itself. 

I have been striving, very hard, to move forward past my traumatic experience with postpartum depression. In three months, it will be 3 years since I suffered through the horrible illness. 

They say time heals all wounds, and there is truth to this, but there are some days when the pain can hit you just as hard as if the event happened just yesterday. 

After my healing came, I was a changed person. And I strove to help others going through what I experienced. I shared my story over and over. This helped in my healing process, but it has also been very triggering at times. 

When trying to move forward, or to put the past behind you, it’s like you can take two steps forward and one step back. You make progress, and then you’re back to where you were…hurting. Remembering. And it is deeply painful. 

My journey in trying to move forward, as I said, has not been an easy one, and I’m still on the journey of putting the pain behind me. 

When we look back to the past, we can feel a multitude of emotions. Sometimes positive. Sometimes negative. 

When I look back to when I had postpartum depression, as one could imagine, there are very few happy memories. It was the darkest, most terrifying time of my life. 

I’m not a fan of the phrase or being told to “Move on.” For it’s not that easy to do so. I have also thought about the popular phrase, “Don’t look back, you’re not going that way.” I love these words, and yet, at the same time, it irritates me. I know we do not need to dwell on the past…past mistakes, past hurts, past painful experiences; but I think we must acknowledge and give ourselves the permission to know that this experience is forever a part of us. It may get easier and WILL get easier as time goes on, but it’s a part of your story. It might have helped change the course of your history and the history of those around you. It’s natural to look back. And I think it’s important to look back sometimes…to see the positive that came from that experience. You might have to look hard to find that. There are lessons to be learned, wisdom to be earned. But I do agree that we should not wallow, or try not to wallow in misery every day of thinking about the past. 

For me, it’s been a challenge to overcome the flashbacks of the experience I went through. There are so many moments from that time that I find myself reliving from time to time as if I were literally back there again. It’s also been a huge hurdle to overcome my fear and anxiety that I get of ever having to go back to that dark place again. 

“Where’s the silver lining in this story?” You might be asking. “How are you moving forward?”

I have to move forward, first of all. We all do. We can’t stay stuck in the past. My counselor told me the other day that God doesn’t want me living this way; feeling this way. Filled with negative emotions like fear, anxiety, depression, guilt, sadness, anger, regret, jealousy and envy. God doesn’t want you living your life bound to these emotions either; imprisoned to them. 

So I must seek. I must seek and find the silver lining. I must see the beauty that came from the most painful experience of my life. 

I must look back and see, and thank God for my parents and for holding me and crying with me during those dark days. I must be thankful for the closeness and bond that was forged between the three of us because of what happened. I must see my sister, and the love and support, the empowering words she said to me.The love that I saw she had for me. For my brother-in-law and the words of comfort he gave me. I must thank God for my in-laws, who supported me and never made me feel ashamed, but who loved me as their own and who I know prayed fervently for me every day. For all of my extended family – I am so thankful for them. 

I must thank God that it CHANGED my marriage. Our marriage wasn’t sunshine and roses before I had PPD, and this experience could have made or broken the relationship between my husband, Josh, and I. He could have abandoned me or lifted up his hands in the air and said, “You’re on your own.” But I saw that man truly shine his brightest. He was an angel, a godsend, sent from above. He held up my arms when they grew weary of carrying my sword and shield. He sometimes took my sword and smote at the enemy himself. He was my hero, and I know I could not have made it through without him. We’ve both thanked God that it changed our course, I truly believe, and made our love grow indescribably closer. We have a bond. We get it. We get each other. We love and cherish one another more than ever. Our hearts have changed BECAUSE of PPD. 

I must thank God for the bird he sent my way. I must thank Him that there were crows and buzzards hanging out in the dead tree in my parent’s backyard, taunting me. I must thank Him for sending me a little wren that made a nest outside my window and sang to me every day. For the moment that bird looked in at me through the window and locked eyes with mine and I knew that it was God…his messenger sent to give me hope. I must thank God for this imagery he sent me, that he made me aware that there was a spiritual battle going on, a war between God and Satan. 

I must thank God that he saved my life. That he healed me. I must thank Him that He was near me; I felt his presence. I called in His name and clung to him. I grew closer to my Heavenly Father. 

I must thank God for my friends. For those who called, texted me, sent me letters, who prayed for me. Their prayers helped send healing my way. 

I must thank God for my beautiful daughter, Isabella. For the love that I have for her that is insurmountable. That cannot be measured. That I loved her so much from the moment I saw her, that I fought for her. I fought to stay around. I thank God for the bond we have now, and that she calls me her best friend. I must thank God that PPD did not mess with the bond between a mother and her daughter. 

I must thank God for the wisdom he gave me and the words he has given so that I have been able to relate to and help other mamas going through what I experienced. 

And I must thank God for the mamas who did not have to go through what I went through. I must thank God that they can enjoy and love on their babies those first precious moments of their life, and not be surrounded by a dark cloud. 

I must thank God that he changed me. That he opened my eyes to this life and filled me with zeal and passion. That he softened my heart in many ways. 

And I must thank God that I am here. That I am able to share my story with you. 

I am a survivor! 

Yes, I am moving forward. One step at a time. 

God Spoke to Job 

I’ve always been fascinated by Job. 

This story in the Bible, of how a man had EVERYTHING, and then, just like that, it was all gone. Taken away from him within just a few moments. 

There is so much to learn from him. For me, by the end of the story, when he stays faithful to God throughout his great loss and suffering, I’m just in awe of his faith. In the end, he praises God, his faith and belief in Him is stronger than ever, and then he is blessed by God beyond measure. (“After Job had prayed for his friends, the LORD restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before.” Job 42:10). 

But it’s the middle of the story that I can’t forget. 

Job didn’t just mourn for a day and move on. 

He lost everything. He lost the ones he loved. He grieved. He mourned. Job even cursed the day he was born. 

I wonder why this story is in the Bible? For me, Job seems so real. He seems like you and I. He has feelings and emotions. He does what I think we all would do if faced with his situation. Or if we have in fact been there ourselves…faced with loss or pain and suffering. 

Job seeks counsel from his friends, and they accuse Job of doing evil – that perhaps this is why tragedy struck his household. God later reprimands his friends, by the way. 

What I see, though, is a man who is doing what is only natural. 

He’s asking “Why?”.

He is seeking comfort from his friends, and perhaps answers. Isn’t that what we do? “Why did this happen to me?” “Why did this have to happen?” 

Or, “this should never have happened.” 

“Why, God…why?”

Have you ever asked this? I know I have. I’ve looked up to the skies above and asked Him why, about many things that have happened in my life. 

And when I’ve asked God this question, I have not heard a reply. The heavens have not opened up in that moment and a voice called down from me and given me the answer and I then say, “Oh, okay! That’s why God. Thanks! Now I know!” 

I get goosebumps when God does speak to Job: “Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm. He said: “Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man;
I will question you, and you shall answer me.”Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone— while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?” Job 38:1-7. 

I don’t know about you, but just reading those verses and imagining that scene and God speaking to ME, I shudder. It puts me in my place. And it puts God in his rightful place. The Mighty One. The Creator of the Universe. The One who created me and gave me breath. Who gave me everything. 

God speaks to Job for a long time. He uses Nature to show his power and that He is in control. That He runs the show. Not us. 

I think it’s interesting that there isn’t necessarily a “why” answer from God. Yes, he shows Job who He is and that he maybe shouldn’t be questioning Him. But God doesn’t say, “Hey, here’s why I took your family from you.” Here’s why you experienced that heartache. That rejection. That suffering. That loss. 

Sometimes I don’t think there’s a why for everything that happens. 

Or perhaps we are not meant to know the why. Not in this lifetime. 

That’s a hard pill to swallow. Hard to fathom. Hard to accept. 

But, what are we going to do with knowing that? Does it mean that we aren’t going to wrestle with God and ask Him and wonder the reasons? Does it mean we put ashes on our face for a day, and then carry on and never look back? 

I don’t think so. 

Just look at Job. He did what is only natural, and probably what God expected would happen of Him. He mourned. He was sorrowful. He sought counsel and comfort from the world. He was left with questions and doubt. 

But He turned to God. He had his time of this inner wrestling, yes, but He did not turn his back on God. One of the most powerful verses says, “In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.” Job 1:22

It’s easy to want to blame God. To blame someone. Anyone. To blame ourselves. 

Though I think it’s natural to think and feel all these things, I don’t think we should stay stuck there. It’s easy to get stuck. To dwell. To turn away from God when bad things happen.

We can’t stay there. Can’t stay there forever. In that place of anger. Of doubt. Of questioning. Satan wants us to stay there. He wants us to turn our backs on God. 

Sometimes there just isn’t as the saying goes, “a reason for everything.”

But there is a, what am I going to do now?How am I going to live the rest of my life? After the pain and hurt has happened, and you’re now living in the aftermath. 

“There is a time for everything . . . a time to weep AND a time to laugh, a time to mourn AND a time to dance” (Ecclesiastes 3:1,4). I believe in this so strongly. There IS a time to mourn. We have to grieve and mourn what we lost; to grieve over what should have been. And that is a process. Sometimes a very, very, very long journey. 

But, there is a time to laugh. To dance. To be happy. To move forward. I don’t like the phrase, “move on,” because it sometimes can sound and seem insensitive. Though we may not want to look back, I think we are still going to. We aren’t not going to come out of those painful times without scars and wounds that are triggered now and again, but, we have to keep walking on. We eventually have to move forward. If we’re always looking back, we are held prisoner, and we are missing out on the beauty that does lie in our future. The blessings that will come upon us again -even if we can’t see it now. If we keep looking back, we can’t see where we are going. We can’t see the present and be thankful for it. We’ll just see the darkness behind us, and miss out on the light in front of us. 

In the end, Job ends up praising God. Despite everything, this is what he does. May we strive to draw closer to God during times of trial. To bring our questions to God. But may we never turn our backs on Him or curse His name. 

After all, where was I, or, where were you, when He laid the earth’s foundation?