Freedom in Hope lived loud

Name one word that describes your emotional state at this moment?

 

Depending where you are at in life, your burdens, your zeal for this day, you may be feeling happy, sad, lonely, excited, or frustrated.

I have no idea what you wrote down, but I’d love to hear it in the comments! I can imagine that if we put all our words together we would have a wide and varied list of descriptions. Our emotions change day to day, moment to moment, even when some seem persistent enough to poke at us for a season.

My word would be filled or freaking out depending on the attitudes in my house, the schedule on my phone, and the news on the screen.

Hope is different. Romans 5:5 tells us that Hope doesn’t disappoint us.

And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

It does not shame us.

It does not disgrace us.

It does not confuse us.

Can you imagine what it would be like to live without hope?

I pray you do not know. Without it our emotions and life itself feel so confusing, so broken beyond repair, so disgraceful.

Paul’s heart screamed out to the Galatians that hope was in front of them despite life’s confusion and doubts. Hope was worth gripping onto with all their might, even as someone tried to drag it away. Hope does not disgrace.

Let’s read Galatians 5:2-6 to hear more:

Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

The false brothers, the Jewish believers that insisted on circumcision for the Galatians, were trying to sever their relationship with Jesus, sever their relationship with salvation. Their method of dispensing the law was confusion, so Paul uses straightforward language. Earlier in Galatians we saw his linear arguments about the place of the law in life after Christ Jesus. We saw the place of sonship in Abraham, sonship in Christ, and the technical differences between the two. Now Paul just says it like it is:

Circumcision, not necessary. It doesn’t matter. End of story. (Galatians 2:2)

So often in this confusing world we need someone to do that for us.

And Paul does:

We cannot keep the whole law. (Galatians 2:3)

There is sin in us, sin in the world, and we cannot make it better. We can’t wish it away. We can’t ignore it or it will choke us. It will push us off the cliff, and we will find ourselves watching as grace slips away from our line of sight.

Obviously, this is not freedom.

Satan’s breed of confusing us – whispering in our ears we’re not enough and we’re just fine on our own, all at the same time – it scratches to try to sever us from God and His goodness, His mercy. (Galatians 2:4)

Paul wants better for the Galatians and he wants better for us.

“For through the Spirit…”

The Spirit brings something new into the confusion that literally makes things right. Makes us righteous and changes our lives with hope.

Hope shines Christ into confusion.

Circumcision, uncircumcision – none of it matters. That is hope. Letting Christ be the center is where freedom is.

Just letting Him live out and live loud in our life;

letting Him, through the Spirit already in us by His grace, infiltrate all of our life, all of our heart, our soul, our mind, our strength,

that is freedom.

We aren’t free falling. We are held tightly in His righteousness, in freedom won for us.

We have hope.

Hope speaks over the voices that create all the confusion. Life might look or feel confusing now, or at least some days, but we eagerly wait, Paul says, for that moment, that time when all things will be new before our eyes. We pass on that hope to our children and to our families, to our friends, because who wants to live without hope, without freedom?

Today might be confusing, but Christ lives loud. The Spirit lives loud constantly reminding us…

“Oh yeah, hope.”

Hope deals with the big stuff, so we can bring it into the little stuff. Hope walks into your life shaped like grace and works into the fabric of everything around you.

Hope is loud like that too.

And hope does not disappoint, does not shame, does not disgrace.

Hope frees.

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Discussion questions:

What things in life feel confusing or produce anxiety for you? (Like wars, family arguments, etc.)

What emotion is your least favorite to deal with? (anger, fear, excitement, etc.)

What difference does hope make in the day-to-day in your home or work, as you make dinner, talk to your family, do work projects, etc.? Where do you see Jesus living loud in the everyday?

There are a lot of etc.’s in my examples. 😉 What hope is there in the fact that Jesus holds all the etc.’s?

Postpartum Anxiety – It’s real. I’m not crazy.

“This is it,” I thought, “I’m finally going crazy.”

I know the word crazy has a terrible connotation and can be quite disrespectful for those in the midst of a mental health struggle, but those are the honest words I said to myself, folding my laundry, in the quiet of my home, on a very normal Tuesday.

I had a gorgeous seven month old, a pretty decent routine. I felt like I was conquering momhood, finally sleeping, and able to give my husband some attention. I had friends, good friends, I could call for anything. We had recently moved, were both really still students, so impoverished, but happy.

So why, oh why, did I feel so overwhelmed by the simple task of folding a washcloth?

I had a problem and I knew it. I felt fine three-quarters of the time and then the rush of panic would come on, intense, out of nowhere. It never had anything to do with my beautiful baby, my marriage, or anything meaningful. It just was.

The anxiety and panic had its own realm, its own hold on my soul, and I felt like I would never escape it…it felt like an eternal vacuum, but in reality was really about two minutes, and then it would pass.

Every woman’s experience with postpartum anxiety is different, just like every person’s experience with any health issue is different. Just like diabetes and strokes have various symptoms and manifestations in our bodies, so it is with mental health. There is a list of symptoms – someone may experience three of them, or eight of them; they may be intense, or pretty vague; they may be there all the time, every day, or they may be more transient, and come and go.

Being a person interested in health and mental health, I read lots of articles and google searched everything I could, but I couldn’t find anything to match up with what I was experiencing. I found lots of questionnaires asking me if I was feeling blue or having trouble with motivation, but nothing that used words like

“anxious”

“foreboding”

“panic”

“on edge.”

However, on that day, folding laundry, I knew I needed help. I asked our family doctor at my baby’s next well visit…

“So is it normal to feel super anxious after having a baby?”

She looked up from checking my baby, and gently laughed, “Well, I think just about anything is ‘normal’ after having a baby! But let’s talk about what you’re experiencing.”

She sat down and asked me lots of questions, she shared a little of her own experiences with postpartum ups and downs, she told me about postpartum blues, postpartum depression, and a gamut of postpartum fireworks, from hormones, to body changes, to life transitions.

For the next half hour she sat with me and figured out some ways to try and relieve my symptoms and put our ideas in order of try now, try if it doesn’t work, and what to do in an emergency. We made a followup appointment for two weeks.

In that office, in a tiny town in Nebraska, my doctor gave me a gift:

I felt hopeful.

14 years later, we know a whole lot more about postpartum anxiety than we did then. It’s a thing. It has a name, and there are people working to have it recognized. When we shine light on a hard topic and give it a name and a realness, we help someone else to walk out of darkness, to feel less alone. We end misconceptions like “crazy,” so people can find truth and solutions instead.

My postpartum anxiety subsided slowly, with the help of three things:

Rest

I made a pact with my Dr. that I would do nothing or read a book for pleasure for one hour an afternoon, every afternoon. Sometimes I read a novel, sometimes I read the Bible. This was the first time in my life I ever sat down and read the Bible for reading sake, enjoying the words and soaking in the peace of it. It was a learned skill, cultivating rest, and I’m not sure I would have ever learned it without my doctor’s encouragement and help.

Support

She encouraged me to be more open about my struggle. She asked me to pick three people I could talk to about it that week, and who I could call on at any time if I needed help. As a new wife and mom, I was so afraid that I wasn’t doing life “right” that I was a closed book. I had no idea people were so important in this mom gig. Because of this struggle, and this wisdom, I have since learned that without people, everything is infinitely harder, less enjoyable, and life is laden with guilt and shame. People matter more than most anything – for my own good, as well as theirs.

Medication/Supplements

Doctors and other professionals are absolutely the best people to explain this. Let my encouragement be this: there is a time and a place for medications. There is no shame in utilizing medication as a part of treatment for any physical or mental health issue. It may take time and energy to find the right one, the right dose, and the right timing. My doctor prescribed me an as-needed medication and those as-needed moments came. I was grateful she had foresight to see past my flippant “I’ll be fine” to push a little harder, explaining and reassuring me with kindness and grace.

There is no crazy.

Life is hard.

Life is good.

Christ gives us the gift of one another, the wisdom of people He places in our lives, just for this purpose – to share His Hope in the struggle and His joy in the victory.

For more information on postpartum anxiety diagnosis and treatment, please see the following links, or ask your doctor or local mental health provider. I’d love to hear your story. Feel free to message me from the “About Me” page of this blog or share in the comments below:

Postpartum Support International

lots of resources for individuals and professionals also, symptoms, online support, and more

The Other Postpartum Problem: Anxiety

a really helpful, normalizing article from parents.com

2020 Mom Project

advocacy, awareness, and resources for maternal mental health

 

Love the Sojourner

First of all, this is not a political post.

Second of all, this is a Jesus post.

Neighbors, brothers, sisters, friends, immigrants, refugees….

The truth is, we are all sojourners. We are strangers in a strange land.

Our land never quite feels right. We don’t quite fit in. We don’t know where to put things like loss, heartbreak, hate, anger, fear, doubt, pain, grief, war, shame.

Just like the children of Israel slugging it through slavery in the land of Egypt, we look around, we see sin and its consequences, and we know the truth – we are sojourners traveling through a land briefly. Our home is eternal. Our home is comfort in the arms of our Savior. Our home is the feast to come, the victory of heaven, not the blackening landscape of a home that passes away.

We get glimpses of this land through His Word, His sacraments, and through one another.

For this reason, Deuteronomy 10:19 speaks His Word of direction to us:

Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt. 

God gently reminds Israel and us of all we’ve been given, of the freedom that has been won, of where we have been, of where we are headed, so that when we look in the eyes of our neighbor, we’ll see our own experience as the sojourner far off…the sojourner who was once a stranger to God, welcomed with open arms, by a neighbor named Jesus.

We GET to be part of all of that. We get to be welcomers into the Body of Christ and the kingdom, because we ourselves have been welcomed, not because we have lived in Haiti, or Germany, or Africa but because we have eternity. We have a home with no shame, a new home of grace that will one day be full and complete.

We have been brought out, so that others may be brought in.

Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt. 

Who are these others? Look around you. Who is on the outskirts looking in? Who are those that do not know what we know of grace? We can reach across our lawns and we can reach across our oceans and love, love, and love some more.

God does not limit Himself to what is visible in providing for our needs. There is always more room, more trust, more mercy, more comfort, and more provision in the economy of Christ. Where do we doubt His ability to keep us safe, to provide resources for us, and to give us strength when we look at the sojourner in need?

Just as God answers the fears of the people of Israel proactively, He answers ours in the same Word.

Deuteronomy 10:20-22:

20 You shall fear the Lord your God. You shall serve him and hold fast to him, and by his name you shall swear. 21 He is your praise. He is your God, who has done for you these great and terrifying things that your eyes have seen.

He is your praise. Look what He has done! Can He who raises the dead provide what we need to love? Why yes, I think He can.

Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.

A tiny little command, tucked inside a whole lot of promise.

We raise our hands in Praise to Him who can, and simply ask Him to point us in the direction of where to send all the love.

 

Free Love the Sojourner iPhone Wallpaper

Look for the Love the Sojourner line coming out in May 2017, on our Products with a Message page. #surroundme #starttheconversation #productswithamessage