Why it’s taken me 6 months (and 1 week) to write this post!

edited: I wrote this post a week ago, but never submitted it. I’m not sure why. I guess maybe it was harder than I thought it would be to be completely vulnerable. Because vulnerability=accountability. Or maybe it was because I had expectations tied to what this post would do….or how it would minister to people. Or IF it would minister to people. But I still feel led to share my heart. So, here it is…..my heart…..typed out in words.

So….where do I even start?

This is a question I’ve been asking myself for months. I know God’s been pushing me to write this post….but I kept asking Him….”where do I even start?” And even as I sit down to write, I’m still asking Him that question.

So, here I am. Willing to be used. In the most vulnerable place I’ve ever been in. May the following words be used to encourage you and bring glory to God.

As most of you know….I’m pregnant. I found out about 5 months ago, and I am currently 29 weeks along. Little did I know, this pregnancy would mark the beginning of a season that I just was not prepared for. At first I thought it was just the shock of a positive pregnancy test in the stage of life entitled, “We’re done having kids, my husband just started his own business, we’ve downsized and cut every unnecessary expense, and I’m homeschooling my 4th and 1st graders.” Then after the initial shock wore off and the season got harder, I just thought it was because of the morning sickness that lasted all day-every day-for 16 weeks. I kept thinking….”Surely I’ll start feeling better soon, and then life will feel easier.” Nope. After crashing off of my sanity meds, I fell into a pit labeled depression. My doctor recommended that I see a christian counselor and during the first 15 minutes of our first session, she confirmed that God was releasing me from homeschooling my kids. It was a hard pill to swallow because I felt like I was letting my family down–and God. But at the same time, I knew this was God’s direction. After Christmas, my kids started back to school–a new school. Thankfully the transition was super easy and wonderful for everyone! PRAISE!! I just knew that now life would be easier. I wasn’t feeling sick anymore, I had energy, and I had 7 hours every day to myself! What a dream come true, right?? 7 hours. alone. stuck in a house. by yourself….God started speaking. And I had no choice but to listen. And the things He was telling me were hard things for me to hear. But before you continue reading, just know that this post is not about pregnancy.

This post is about God bringing you to a season of life where He requires your full attention, and there’s nothing you can do but listen.

I soon started to realize that God was up to something, and it wasn’t going to be a fun or easy journey.

There was a disconnect that had formed in my marriage since I found out I was pregnant, and it was time to face it. I pointed this out to my husband pretty soon after the kids had started back to school. I was honestly hoping it was just me that felt this way, but as soon as he confirmed it we knew there were things that needed to be dealt with. So, we sat down with a christian marriage counselor. It was the absolute worst hour of my life. The disconnect was not just a figment of my imagination. It was real. And it was deep. And it was something that neither of us could put our fingers on. We both wanted to fix it right away, but we couldn’t. It was going to require prayer and patience. Two things that I just didn’t have a lot of. But through lots of prayer–and patience–God started to reveal places in MY heart that needed to change. When all this time, I thought it was Michael’s problem and could give you a list of things that I thought needed to change in him.

That was the beginning of God removing me from the self-centered world I had been living in.

I started reading a book called “For Women Only.” It changed my heart. And it’s changing my marriage. I learned so much about Michael and about how my words and actions were creating a lot of tension in our marriage. I was ready and willing to make changes, but I wasn’t prepared for how hard it would be. I started praying that I would decrease so that God could increase. I had no idea how painful that prayer could be. I literally started to feel empty. Completely. Empty. He was stripping every selfish desire, action, and word from my body…..and I felt lost. Was I really that consumed with myself that there was nothing left inside of me after He emptied me of “me”?? He started filling me with His love and peace, and it brought me to the point of fully relying on Him to get me through each day. I took every thought and every potential negative reaction to Him first, before I let one word out of my mouth. And little by little I saw how HE was working things out and fighting my battles, instead of me having to. Let me just give you some examples of how this was playing out in my every day life:

  • The disconnect between me and my husband made me feel so unloved by him. Normally, I would lash out and let my emotions lead me down a path that demanded something from him-out of selfishness. But instead, I would just start talking to God about it. I would lash out at Him instead of Michael. I would leave my burdens and hurts with God so that He could fix them. And He did! It wasn’t always immediate, and it wasn’t always tangible…but He was faithful to make changes. However, the changes started in my heart.
  • The emptiness led to loneliness and the loneliness led to depression, and it was all too much for me to bear. Not only did I feel disconnected from my husband, but God had also disconnected me from the friendships I once depended on. I depended on them too much, in fact. It didn’t take me long to realize that I had been relying too much on my husband and my friends to provide joy and fulfillment. I started waking up every morning sick to my stomach because I felt so unfulfilled. What was I going to do that day? Who would I talk to? Who would I hang out with? Where would I go? I would try to fill my day with “this” or “that”….but God would shut those doors and demand that I just spend time alone with Him. And I’m just going to be honest….most days, I didn’t want to! I wanted to go somewhere. I wanted to do something. I wanted a friend. I wanted to get out of this house! I….I….I. And God would remind me….”Tonya, I’m emptying you of you so that I can fill you with Me.” I learned to be real and raw with God during this time. When everyone would leave in the mornings, the tears would flow….and the anger would grow….and I would just start yelling at God to make this all go away. Whatever He was doing in me was just too hard, and I didn’t want it anymore! {side note: the book that is helping me through this specific season of emptiness, loneliness, and the depression that goes along with it is, “Uninvited” by Lysa TerKeurst. It’s a must read for anyone experiencing some of these same feelings.}

Thankfully, God’s strength shows up in our weakness.

I didn’t feel weak as the day went on….I woke up weak. And I had 2 choices: take the next step and trust that He would give me strength….or give up! Giving up was never an option. I mean, how could I? I wasn’t only trying to take care of myself…..I had a baby growing inside of me that needed her Mama to be strong!

So, for the past 29 weeks my faith has grown in ways that I could’ve never imagined. And if I would’ve known beforehand that this season would be so painful, I would’ve never put it on my calendar! But I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Because the breaking of (the old) me has been the making of (a new) me.

I’m not on the other side of this yet….but I know I will be one day. In my darkness, God has shown His light, and it has forever changed my life. Living for me had its moments of fun and excitement, but living for Him is the most fulfilling place I’ve ever been. There’s a lyric in one of Toby Mac’s songs that says “Empty never felt so full.” Yes. Yes. Yes. The world tells us to fill our lives with more stuff…money…relationships…alcohol..etc, etc, etc. The world tells us that those things will make us happy. Been there, done that. Honestly, that’s where I was 29 weeks ago. I was filling my life with what I THOUGHT was providing happiness, but it wasn’t. Those things were only creating a temporary happiness. A happiness that had me always wanting more, because it’s not truly fulfilling. And it wasn’t until The Lord forced me into a “40 week rehab” (as I like to call it), that I started to realize:

He wanted something better for me.

He wanted to give me a fulfilling life….not one that you wake up the next day having regrets over.

He wanted me to dwell in His love so that I could know how to truly love others.

He wanted to restore my marriage to something new and meaningful….not a rollercoaster that was based solely on emotions and actions.

But I’m going to tell you….one of the hardest parts of this journey has been looking back at the things He’s stripped from me and wishing I had those things back. The friendships, the fun, the freedom. But in a gentle way He reminds me, that He’s not necessarily stripping those things from me…He’s just redefining them.

Living a life fully devoted to the One who made you (for crying out loud!), that will overflow your life with purpose and satisfaction. And it’s simple!!! Love God, and Love Others! That’s it! If you seek Him FIRST, He’ll work everything else out. It may not be the way you would’ve planned it….but it’s always the best way!

God wants to get your attention, so give it to Him today. And praise Him through the pain. Because diamonds are only formed after being chiseled. 

 

from one stressed, blessed, and hot messed woman to another,

Tonya

 

 

 

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