Today I got a few minutes to myself. So, I sat on a bench in Fort Tryon park with my daughter’s tulip pen and my son’s hedgehog notebook, and I took a stab at some things.
I’ve been wondering lately if I have anything to say — anything unique to contribute to the blogosphere.
Over the last few years, my self-confidence has taken a beating. Four years ago, I arrived in our new home in Arkansas full of purpose, full of God’s goodness. I was tired and spent but happy. I had a beautiful 18 month old and a wonderful husband. We were greeted by family and community.
We were an hour from some of our dearest friends and we had a holy sense of where God had us.
And the four years we spent there were full of good things. We brought home our daughter, we bought our first house, Brandon launched a huge project. We had college students in our home, we hosted holidays and community group. Our children made sweet friends. Our son learned to ride his bike. We did valuable work. We had the best neighbors ever and made wonderful new friends.
But, dear friends, I was crumbling. I struggled to find my place. And in the midst of a PCOS diagnosis and a few different health issues — I watched myself slip away. I smiled and I made friends–but I couldn’t give my whole self. I taught and I mentored but I felt increasingly alone.
And all the while I lost weight and then I gained weight. My hair began to fall out, my pain increased. I cried (oh, how i cried!!). I cried because I was lonely, I cried because of pain. I cried when doctor’s couldn’t give me answers. I cried when the answers became a little too overwhelming. I cried when my hormones wouldn’t let me do anything else. I cried when I wasn’t invited. I cried when I felt overwhelmed.
I began to forget things. I felt like only a part of myself.
And I resented our home.
And as someone who processes by writing, I was in a hard place because I couldn’t write about it. I didn’t want to wound the people that I loved and I didn’t know how to talk about this all without it.
For many months I blamed that place for my unhappiness.
But while that context brought a lot of hard, it wasn’t to blame.
The last six months in NYC have brought breathing room. And I have begun to embrace the broken pieces of me. In Arkansas I had come face to face with my faults. I sunk into depression. But without a community around me to point me to help, I retreated into myself.
I saw my weaknesses daily. And I felt rejected because of them.
And while a lot of the hard was beyond my control ….I am coming to terms with my own responsibility.
I made it hard for friendships to form. I made it hard for my husband to love me. I made it hard for people to get to know the real me.
All that to say, here’s the punch line.
When we arrived in Arkansas I had begun to find my voice. And four years later, in losing myself, I am finding my message. And it’s one woven in brokenness. And it’s one that isn’t all for the public.
Some of it is for my husband. Some of it is for my kids and my dear friends and family. And some of it is for you, my dear readers. And I don’t really know where all the pieces live just quite yet. And I’m doing my darnedest not to jump ahead.
Because now I find myself in a city I never imagined but have already come to love… building community with a diverse and incredible group of people.
People who have already challenged and acknowledged my gifts and abilities. People who have stretched and challenged me. People who have asked me to minister in ways I haven’t been invited to in awhile.
I have already stepped out of my comfort zone.
And I’m happy. Not because I’ve found any magic bullet but because I came to the end of myself, I survived, and I am now walking forward in God’s grace towards whatever He has for me.
And I realize that none of that is really a punchline, and maybe that’s because there isn’t one…yet. Because maybe this is when the real adventure starts to get good. Maybe.
So, thanks for reading. You guys are swell. I realize I come to you with a lot of personal revelations and I appreciate your journeying through them with me. And for anyone wondering how the O’Brien 4 are managing…here are a few snapshots.
Oh, and for those who have prayed with me for J and have prayed for our family as a whole…goodness, gracious I am so thankful for you.
Oh…one more very important thing. I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge a whole lot of people.
To the dear friends formed in Arkansas – I am so thankful for you. For fancy dinners and kid’s birthday parties and afternoons by the pool.
To those girls who came into my home each week and invited me to speak and to love you and to mentor you – I am still incredibly honored and blessed by you. So very proud of the women you have blossomed into an the adventures you have gone on. You were a true lifeline.
To the women who wrestled and talked through Race and Reconciliation with me. I am still learning from each of you. Seriously.
And to Pediatrics Plus. I wasn’t with you for long and sometimes I worry that I did more harm than good. But I am continually thankful for the opportunity you gave me to work and to use my gifts. To mess up and to fix it. To lead and to guide. You deepened my understanding of the value of a soul. And I am forever changed by the good work that you do.
Thank you for sharing this and for letting me know that I am not alone in feeling this way, too. I finally found my joy again, and I’m clinging to it for dear life. I love you and your family. I miss you guys and pray for you everyday… Especially those babies. Thank you for letting me love them.
Julie, thank YOU for reaching out. You loved my babies well and we are so thankful for you. Will be praying peace beyond understanding and lasting joy over you.