Are you tired, worn out, not sure if you can make it through another day?
May these words be a balm to your weary soul.
The incredibly talented Kimberlee Conway Ireton is here today to let you know that you’re going to make it. She knows, because she has lived the hard and dark days.
She’s the author of the recently released book Cracking Up: A Postpartum Faith Crisis — a book that will give you hope and make you laugh out loud. Kimberlee joins us today to encourage you and give you hope.
A Letter to Myself Three Years Ago
by Kimberlee Conway Ireton
Some days you want to curl up after your morning cup of tea and fall back asleep. Some days you’re so tired you don’t even want to drag yourself out of bed for the cup of tea that keeps you going through the day.
But the babies are squalling and Jane just might be Picassoing the wall with oil pastels and Jack is likely to stick another Lego up his nose and you had better get up and go supervise.
So you drag your weary body out of the warm bed and you drink your tea strong and you nurse your babies and change their diapers and feed yourself and Jane and Jack, and the whole day still yawns before you and one of the babies has just pooped and you need to change his diaper again and wash the Picasso off the wall and Jane wants you to read her a story or four and you can’t think for the fuzz in your brain, so you do the only thing you can think to do. You drink another cup of tea.
You want to fall on the floor in a puddle of self-pity and ask God just where exactly He is in the midst of the daily tired mess that is your life, the tired mess that is you. You want to throw in the towel, call it quits, and go back to bed.
But you can’t. So you drink more tea. You pray a lot of help me prayers. You dissolve in near-daily pools of Mama-jello on your bed or, on really bad days, the kitchen floor.
In short, you are depressed.
Only you don’t realize it. You think it’s just a phase, something that will get better as the babies grow, as the pregnancy and postpartum hormones work their way out of your body.
Worse, you think it is a spiritual issue, something you just need to pray through and give thanks through and have faith through and that it is your own stupid fault that you’re feeling this way because if you were more spiritually mature, surely you’d be able to see that God is with you in this pit you’ve gone and fallen into and what is your problem anyway? Why can’t you recognize how graced and blessed you are? Why can’t you shut up and be grateful, for the love of God?
Oh my younger self, those voices are ugly. They masquerade as the voice of God. But they’re not. Trust me on this. They’re really the voice of the Accuser. They do not draw you nearer to the throne of grace, but drive you deeper into your sad and sorry and sick self. They shame you. They accuse you. They guilt you and harp on you and tell you every nasty thing anyone has ever said about you and a whole bunch of things that no one has ever said but that you’ve worried they’ve said—they say that all those things are actually true.
And because you’re depressed and your brain isn’t working properly, you believe their lies. You think these voices are speaking God’s disapproval. You think God must be pretty disgusted with you. You think He’s sick and tired of the fact that you’re dealing with these same issues of faith and trust—or rather, your lack thereof.
Hear me, O my weary, weepy younger self: all those thoughts are a lie. Those voices are not the voice of God. God is not disgusted with you or tired of you or sick of you in any way. God is patient and kind. God is merciful and gracious, abounding in steadfast love for you. God is a Man nailed to a tree, arms outstretched to embrace you.
And you here in the agonizing dark, you here feeling abandoned—you are at the foot of the cross. And the Man on the cross knows exactly how you feel. He feels it, too. He feels it with you.
You are never closer to Jesus than when all is darkness.
He knows darkness. He knows agony. He knows abandonment. And He cries with your voice, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?”
I know you can’t hear His cry. I know you feel you are not worthy to speak such words. I know you think yourself a lightweight, a loser, a pathetic excuse for a Christian.
You’re not. You are holding on in the only way you know how, and, honey, it’s enough. God’s grace is sufficient. You keep telling yourself this, and you want to believe it, and someday in the not-too-distant future, you will. You’ll look back on these dark days and you’ll realize that yes, indeed, God was giving you grace upon grace, enough to keep you going until you could admit that you needed medical help and get the help you needed.
And that, too, will be grace, the day you break a small blue pill in half and down one half with a cup of cold water. And grace too, that slowly, day by day, week by week, those little blue pills will restore you to yourself. Later, much later, you will realize that those pills, God’s gift of healing and restoration, are Eucharist. And you will give thanks.
But oh, my weary younger self, wading through the darkness where there is weeping and wailing and fear, you are not there yet. I’m sorry you are still in darkness and the shadow of death. I’m sorry you are afraid. I’m sorry you feel alone and abandoned.
I am here, on the other side of the darkness and the fear, and I am waiting, for I know you will reach this place. Until you get here, I know that Jesus is with you, bending down from His cross to hold you in His arms.
I know that you are never closer to Jesus than you are right now.
Kimberlee Conway Ireton
is the author of The Circle of Seasons: Meeting God in the Church Year
and the recently released memoir, Cracking Up: A Postpartum Faith Crisis.
You can also find her words at Godspace
, A Deeper Story
, and Tweetspeak Poetry
as well as on her own blog
A wannabe connoisseur of tea and an avid reader, Kimberlee lives in Seattle with her husband, four kids, two cats, and more books than she can count.
It was my honor to offer this endorsement for her book:
“A gifted writer, Kimberlee Conway Ireton writes a boldly honest story that reads like a confession. Her book is a persistent digging to find the light…a story of God’s enduring faithfulness, and it is a revelation of the Father’s love for her, and for all of us.”
Kimberlee and I are giving away a copy of her memoir, Cracking Up. To enter, leave a comment below, and we will enter your name in a drawing. And if you need a prayer as a mama? Let us know. I’ll randomly select a winner Wednesday evening and notify the winner by email.