Bringing in the New Year: Empowering Women to Balance their Lives
Life can sometimes be challenging. You can wake up and decide what is going to happen, but God may have other plans. So, where does this leave you? Are you one of those people who rolls with the punches? Or, are you like me, who finds change fairly difficult. What happens if you have an idea in your head of how things should be, only for God to show you a different plan? What do you do then? I find that as I get into my later 30s, God has a way of doing this to me quite often. Where I am now is not where I thought I would be two years ago … but God knew exactly where he wanted me to be.
A Wife, a Mom, and a Career WomanAre you a stay at home mom who wrestles with the idea of going back to work? I was, and it had taken me a long road to get there. I had been a career woman before I had my daughter, and had really enjoyed my work that involved helping people. When my daughter was born, my whole world changed and my outlook on life changed. Children can do that to you, especially to moms. I realized that she was more important than working at my career, so I put it on hold for a while. It was the right thing for me to do at that time in my life, but looking back I could definitely have balanced things better.
I was your typical first-time mom, a serious freak. I didn’t want my daughter to get sick, or to be touched by people who hadn’t washed their hands. I didn’t want her out of my sight for a single second and felt guilty anytime I had to leave to do something for myself. I jumped if she even uttered a single whimper … you get the idea. Looking back now that she is four years old, I laugh and realize how silly most of that was for me. I stressed myself out when I didn’t need to, but I didn’t know any better … she was my first baby, and that involves a learning process. I had to learn how to balance being a wife, a mom, and a career woman … it was too much at once, so my career had to go on the side for a while.
Rolling with the Punches
I started counseling people part-time again this year after my daughter turned four – and I can tell you that it was hard. But it was the best decision I have made for some time, apart from our decision to also move this year. Oh, and did I mention that both my brother and my sister got married this past year and that I was the maid of honor at my sister’s wedding? But I am proud to say that I definitely rolled with the punches this year. I probably trusted God more and prayed more than I have in a very long time. I prayed that he would help us move, I prayed that he would show me the right job, I prayed that he would help alleviate my anxiety, and that I would be an amazing mom and wife to my family. And, you know what? It worked.
Learning that Life Can Begin Again
God shows up when you ask him too. This is not always in the ways that you want, but he does bless you when you get out of your own way and start to bless others instead. I realized that my time at home with my daughter had been great, but she was in preschool and I wanted to begin helping others again. I felt this pull from God to me saying, “Jessica, you are an amazing mom, but you also have a gift that I gave you to help counsel others, so go do it.” Did he come into my room and say this to me verbatim? Of course not. But I experienced many things this past year that nudged me to get to where I am now. I found a group to work for that feels like home, and that understands what it is like to have a family. I have learned how to balance being a mom and wife with going back to work part-time – OK, I am still working on it, but I am so much better than a year ago. And through all of this, I have learned that God loves me and that he was there even in my darkest hours. He never let me go, and he showed me that life can begin again.
Life after Miscarriage
Begin again from what, you might ask? I had a miscarriage almost two years ago, but sometimes it feels like yesterday. I am a very sensitive, introspective, analytical, loving individual, so this experience hit me hard. I already had a two-year-old at the time, so why could I not just be happy with the one, healthy, happy child I had? I can tell you only that there is no greater pain in this world than losing a child, whether it is a child you have raised who passes away or one who passes away in your womb. It is the same pain, but unfortunately, it is not recognized in the same way. There is a deep shame, sadness, and guilt that comes with miscarrying a baby. Was it my fault? Of course, I knew that it wasn’t intellectually. But in my heart, I couldn’t let go of the pain for a very long time.
I have often said and been told that that heartache will never fully go away, and I know that this experience will always be a part of me. It is similar to an internal scar on the heart, which will never fully heal. But I have slowly learned how to move on with my life and to recognize that God knew better than I did. It wasn’t my time to have another baby … I know this now. Does this make it easier? Of course not. But I now rest in the peace that my second baby is in heaven, watching over myself, my husband, and our daughter. And I believe that someday I will get to meet him or her in heaven. He or she is in such a better place, and I realize I don’t have to worry about that child as I do my earthly one.
God is in Control
God is in control. He has this child and I can let it go and know that they are doing much better than we are. This gives me peace. My daughter doesn’t know that she almost had a sibling a few years ago, and someday when she is much older I will tell her what she needs to know. For now, we hope to try again for another baby someday soon. And this time, I will trust it is God’s timing and that he has it all figured out for me already. So there is no need to worry.
Do you give God control over your life? When your life transitions to the next phase, how do you handle it? Do you go with ease or do you struggle? Do you know that this is where God wants you to be, and are therefore at peace with it? If you are struggling right now in a certain phase of life, I would encourage you to let go and to give it all over to God. He is taking care of you, and you are not alone in your struggle. Women, especially, feel that they must have it all together all of the time. But really, we don’t. Who is it that determines this for us – society, our family, our friends?
Life happens and sometimes bad things happen. But the good thing is that we don’t have to go at it alone. God will never leave you nor forsake you, he will always be at your right hand. He strengthens you in your weakest moments … even when you don’t see this for yourself yet. How do I know this? Because when I look back on my 38 years of life, he has proven to me over and over again that he will never leave me. And he always builds me back up after my struggles – always.
God has Your Back in 2017
How do you want to bring in the new year of 2017? Do you want to put your trust in yourself or in others, who will inevitably let you down because we are human and all make mistakes? Or do you want to put your faith and trust in God, and know that he has already got this year planned out for you? He is in control and you are just the passenger who is along for the ride. Would that not make the coming year less stressful and worrisome? To know that someone greater than you has your back and that you will always have company wherever you go and whatever you do, even if you fail?
I’m not saying that this is an easy task. It has taken me a long time to fully put my trust in God and to know that he is in charge. I’m not perfect either, and I won’t pretend that I am. I hate to admit it, but counselors are not superhuman. We make mistakes too, and we go through bad years like anyone else, and sometimes wonder where God is and when he will show up? But he is there, although he may sometimes be quiet as he waits for you. You need to get up, say a prayer, and begin to trust in something more than just yourself. You cannot and will not be able to do this life alone – I promise you. It will be much more difficult and will not go well if you try. I know. I’ve been there and done that many times. The beauty is that God forgives relentlessly too – thank goodness.
Entering the Year with Hope
But God is love, he is forgiveness, he is patience, he is compassion, he is strong, he is ever-lasting, and ever-present. He will never leave you, even when everyone else in your life does. Instead of reflecting on your regrets of the past year, what if you could envision a future full of life, promise, and possibility? Here are some scriptures I have picked out to encourage you as you ponder the new year and what it could bring for you:
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. – Isaiah 43:2
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go. – Joshua 1:9
Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD. – Psalm 31:24
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. – Proverbs 3:5-6
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. – 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. – Isaiah 41:10
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. – John 14:27
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth give away and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. – Psalm 46:1-3
I will keep my eyes always on the LORD. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. – Psalm 16:8
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. – 1 Peter 5:7
Christian Counseling to Face the Challenges of the New Year
As a Christian counselor, I hope that this article helps you to find some hope in the new year and to rest in knowing that you are not alone in this life. God is always with you, and if you would like to seek out Christian counseling for help with life transitions, struggles with thoughts of the coming year, anxiety, depression, eating challenges, or relationship struggles. I know what it is like when life hits you when you least expect it, and I understand that it can be difficult, to say the least.
“A Story Called Hope,” courtesy of Kira Westland, Flickr CreativeCommons (CC BY 2.0); “Psalm 43:5,” courtesy of Waiting For The Word, Flickr CreativeCommons (CC BY 2.0); “Bringing in the New Year” courtesy of Donna Cowan