The cars were loaded with all of our belongings and round one of the goodbyes was over. With our nearly 2-year old toddler and 2-month old baby girl, who still had that sweet baby scent, we set off for our first adventure as a family of four. However, it wouldn’t be the first time I held it together, telling myself that I was confident, strong, and brave, or at least to look that way.
We had waited almost a year for this day. With all the anticipation and excitement surrounding our long-awaited departure, you’d think I was prepared for the change. But I still didn’t know how to handle it.
Change is always overwhelming for me. It ruffles my feathers and always throws me out of my comfortable nest. I struggle to fly, I’m awkward, and I want to stay back. Even the smallest changes take time for me to process and deal with. Today was no different.
I could feel I was being launched out. After round two of tearful goodbyes at the airport with my parents, the four of us clung together tightly as we embarked on what we felt like God was calling us to do in this season of our lives- move to the Netherlands.
I won’t lie, although we were looking forward to what lay ahead, we still had many questions, doubts, and fears. We only had small glimpses of what life might be like for us, but other than that we had no idea! We distracted ourselves from all the unknowns. God’s peace and presence protected us from the harshness of change in our vulnerable season as a young family.
Fast forward now to this month. September 5th marked one year since our arrival in the Netherlands.
Finally, I feel like myself again. Alot has happened. Only now, do I feel like I have the words, wisdom, and perspective to share. For a girl who handles change regularly but still painfully, this has been one of the most difficult seasons for me to say the least. I want to be open and honest about my struggles and experiences in hopes that you will find the courage you need in your season of change or steps into the unknown that you are about to take.
Starting life in a new country and being a new mom of two were my big steps into the unknown. Here’s the real raw and messy aspects of what I faced during that year…
1.I wanted to give up (almost everyday!)
For me giving up, meant lying on my bed in the fetal position, hiding from my mommy responsibilities, succumbing to depressive thoughts and feelings, or wanting to board the next flight back to America. My husband can tell you about all the times I cried to him, “I wanted to go back…I don’t think I can do this anymore.”
2. I cried alot.
First you must know I easily cry. But I knew, and my husband knew, that these bouts of crying were definitely more frequent and left me feeling hopeless. Looking back, I see that I was grieving. Mourning the loss of all that was…the restful days before we had children, the comforts of being close to family, the nearness of friends who knew & understood us. So many things that we left behind.
3. I felt alone.
It didn’t matter how much I met up with people, or knew people cared, I still felt alone. In a new country and new culture making friends takes time and work. I had forgotten this. Loneliness is debilitating and breeds more loneliness. On many days I knew I needed to get out and be with people, but just couldn’t find the time or the energy to do it with two kids to round up, feed, and get ready.
4. I was depressed.
It wasn’t a cycle I couldn’t get out of. I still had good days and I never plummeted too far into the lies and the heaviness that I couldn’t rouse myself again. But emotionally I was drained. The battle of constantly fighting for joy was also getting to me physically, I was vulnerable and weak. I don’t think I ever admitted to being depressed, but deep down I knew I was and I had to be careful to not build a house and live there.
For nearly a whole year I trudged through this muck and yuck. On many days I felt defeated, left wondering how I could fix myself, but I manage to keep it together. (I’m sure most of us are experts at that, which is not always a good thing!) Only a few people really knew and that was okay, they prayed and offered me gracious words of encouragement and support that seasoned my life with hope and joy for what was coming…
///Join me tomorrow when I will share part 2 of the story- where God was in all of this transition, newness, and mess, because He was. Oh how He was there…a faithful, strong, surprising presence.\\\
I’m curious to hear what changes you are walking through or steps into the unknown that you are anticipating?