It was a Friday evening, late in the five o’clock hour, the tenth day of the month. I remember it like it was yesterday – the day and time my labor for my daughter began. It had been a sunny day, blue skies, little in the way of clouds - warm for a spring day in April…for North Idaho that is. My husband had come home and taken me out to lunch at one of our favorite joints – Red Robin. I ordered the chicken teriyaki sandwich with fries and tartar and distinctly remember feeling like every person’s eyes in that restaurant were on me, casting their disgusted looks my way, and shaking their heads in horror as the waitress set down my plate. In my head I heard them saying, “How could she have ordered that when she can barely even fit into the booth?!” Which was true, my stomach was uncomfortably touching the table in front of me, but it was me, not the other diners that had been casting the disgusted looks…well, they could’ve been too, I don’t know because in my shame I hadn’t even looked up beyond my plate, never mind into their eyes. Gaining seventy pounds when the normal weight gain of a pregnancy is twenty to thirty can tend to do that to a girl, yet here I was eating a giant plate of fattening food four days after my due date anyway.
It was a nice gesture on my husband’s part though – him wanting to take me out. It was supposed to be a treat – one last hoorah for the two of us to do something together before the baby came. There wasn’t much conversation going on however. My husband was self-employed in an industry that the downturn in the economy was not kind too. There hadn’t been consistent work since before the snow had hit that winter. Our savings were gone. Little to no work was lined up for the future. Taxes were due in five days. We had no idea how we were going to pay them. We owed thousands. We also had no rent money beyond May…yet here we were, about to have our first child…and eating out like we didn't have a care in the world , but in truth, we had no idea what we were doing...
I had already packed up most of the house knowing we would have to move, and knowing this was something I wasn’t going to be able to do right after having a baby (thank God I had enough sense at least to do that), but to what end and where we’d be going, we had no idea. I said I was trusting God to lead and provide, and knew He actually was in so many ways, but I’m realizing now that my faith in Him had been damaged a bit through that circumstance. I couldn’t see or understand what He was doing. Just a year before we had left San Diego – the place I’d grown to love more than anywhere else I’d lived and the place that was home in my heart – to go back to our home town in response to God’s leading…now I couldn’t help but think, “To this though?!” Surely I had heard wrong or gone wrong somewhere somehow. This couldn’t possibly be God’s plan.
“’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” ~Jeremiah 29:11
“Hope and a future?” – it sure didn’t feel like it! So much had changed in just a year…and so much more was about to change…change in which I didn’t see coming in the least…change beyond the normal amount that comes from having a baby. My own personal Goliath was rising up and preparing for a battle that was lurking just around the corner.
After having contractions all week, I recall a twinge of excitement shooting through me when it became clear that Friday evening that the time had finally come. Though there was also a natural fear, the excitement was larger at this point. This would soon change however, as my labor went on and on and on, with little progression, complication after complication, and seemingly no sight in end. For two full days I labored and couldn’t understand why so little intervention was taking place, not just from the doctors, but also from God. I couldn’t help but notice the irony in the timing in which my labor had begun – Good Friday – and how I was feeling just like Jesus in my sufferings.
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” ~Mathew 27:46
But also, just like Jesus who knew His resurrection was coming and understood the joy that would follow, I knew eventually I’d be delivered from my pain and that joy would follow in the form of our new baby, and this I clung to desperately in hope, believing this would surely take place for me on Easter as well…but then Easter Sunday came and went and I had yet to receive that deliverance and that joy. Instead, I quickly felt all hope grow faint for, as it turned out, I would labor for another half a day and during those twelve hours is when I would come face to face, for the first time, with the Goliath I had been catching glimpses of over the previous forty-eight hours…
It’s been a little over four years now since those fateful days conspired and my Goliath has yet to be defeated. How could this be, you might ask? Well, because I responded just like the Israelite army - I ran and hid in my tent in fear, and this is where I’ve been up until about this last year. No, I did not run out and meet my giant as David did. That was surely not me. I did not choose faith in God that day, and I’ve yet to fully trust and depend on Him even now when it comes to defeating this giant in my life…but I so desperately want to! Unfortunately, wanting and doing are two very different things. The last four years have proven that to me! So the question then remains, if I want to defeat my Goliath, how am I going to depend on God’s strength to do so?
Upon exploring this, many things have been brought to my attention. The first being to seek God first, which I discovered through verse mapping Mathew 6:33 and shared in one of my posts last week. Click here if you missed it but would like to read it ( http://theword-vs-theworld.blogspot.com/2013/05/seek-first.html ). The second and third part revealed to me was that I needed to dig deeper to discover just why my Goliath had grown so large, and what my Goliath truly is.
“…uncovering the root of the problem is like putting a stone in our sling shot and knowing God will use it in powerful ways.” ~Tracie Miles, “Stressed-Less Living” pg. 146
In my excavation time, what has been uncovered is that I myself, with the help of the enemy, am responsible for my giant’s growth over the past four years. I’ve been like a child with a magnifying glass, holding it over my struggles, looking down at the enlarged images and analyzing every detail, rather than looking up at my bigger God. In the process, my faith has been targeted like an ant under the lens, being burned from the intense focus of the hot scorching sun that is my emotions and my attitude about the situation.
“Could it be that fear, doubt, insecurity, and not believing that God really sees you are adding to how big the problem seems? Could it be that the way you perceive the problem, deal with the problem, and live the problem are actually part of the problem? Could it be that your attitude is one of the biggest giants you face, more so than the situation you are facing?” ~Tracie Miles, “Stressed-Less Living” pg. 142
The answer to those questions is yes, yes, and yes. While my Goliath did actually exist prior to feeling and responding this way, my reaction to the struggles I’ve endured has definitely grown the size of my giant in my mind and this has played a large role in keeping me from facing my Goliath. Like what Chuck Swindoll says and Tracie points out, “Life is 10 percent what happens to me, and 90 percent how I react to it.” And I have certainly not reacted well. Some of those reactions I’ve already shared in previous posts, like stress eating shared in “Mirror, Mirror” ( http://theword-vs-theworld.blogspot.com/2013/04/mirror-mirror.html ), and leaning on my own strength rather than on God when dealing with the health problems that have come as a result of complications in child birth, as I shared in “Lean on Him” ( http://theword-vs-theworld.blogspot.com/2013/03/lean-on-him.html ). But what God is now revealing to me is that, despite my almost constant focus on these issues, they are not the power behind the giant. What God has unearthed in reading chapter seven of “Stressed-Less Living,” has been far more surprising to me.
One of the raging battles in my mind has been with whether or not to have more kids. When finally deciding to have one after eight years of marriage, we knew that this decision meant having more than one. We did not want a single child. However, after everything I went through the first go around, I quickly changed my mind, and all the doctors, gynecologists, and specialists I’ve seen since then (and believe me, there were many), agreed that this would be best. But then as time went on and I found myself faced with friends and family having their second child, I realized that it was still my desire to have more, only I had buried it deep within my heart out of the fear that this would require facing. In response to this realization, I again did not turn to God and depend on His strength. Instead I went to work on burying my fear of having more, in the hole where I had just dug up my desire for having more…and there, buried in my heart, that fear has remained…or so I thought.
The thing about burying things inside, is that they have a funny way of coming to the surface from time to time when we least expect it and in ways we may not even recognize at the time. My buried fear has been no different. When going through the study “Let. It. Go,” I came face to face with my control issues, and in analyzing those control issues further in “Stressed-Less Living,” what I’ve come to realize is that my need to control is most often manifested in response to fear – in other words, when I’m faced with fear, my reaction is to strive for control over the circumstance. This was the ultimate battle in my labor, and this has continued to be the battle that has kept me from giving God full control over my life and my Goliath. But it goes deeper than this, even still.
When I read Tracie’s explanation of the story of David and Goliath on pages 142-144, where she wrote things like: “The giant, whatever it is, is the only thing standing between you and victory…even though they thought victory was impossible, they still dreamed about it…they couldn’t envision victory because their eyes were focused on the problem…The fear that Goliath created in them caused them to adopt an attitude of defeat. They were defeated long before the battle actually took place. The real giant that they needed to overcome was not the physical presence of Goliath but the mental presence of stress, worry, and fear in their hearts…they hovered helplessly in the shadows of their fear,” it was then that the Lord unearthed the Goliath of all Goliath’s to me in the form of a question - a question that now laid bare before me, no longer covered by the piles and miles of grime and muck it had been buried in – had I been subconsciously sabotaging my attempts to heal and get healthy again, in order to not have to face my fear of having more kids?
As horrible as this question sounded, and as tough as it was for me to ask, I couldn’t help but notice and admit that it was in fact a valid question. You see, I had decided, after re-discovering my desire to have more kids, that I was going to prepare for that possibility in the future, and one of the biggest goals I set in being able to do so, was to lose as much of the excess weight that I could and to strengthen my body as much as was possible. Yet, this was a battle I seemingly could not win, and no matter how hard or how many times I tried. This was a battle in which I faced defeat over and over again. This was a battle that led to discouragement, frustration, anger, and bitterness. This was a battle in which I slowly watched my faith fade and my Goliath grow.
Wow! Has all of this prolonged suffering, really been a result of not wanting to face my fear of another labor? I can’t answer that for sure yet, but I do know that it is at least a part of the puzzle, or else why would God have brought it to mind? Plus, it does make an awful lot of sense when taking into consideration my stress eating and failed attempts at regular exercise. So while I know that there are in fact real obstacles to overcome in getting my body where it should be to even consider another pregnancy, I also know that I need to come face to face with my true Goliath – my fear – if I’m ever to experience God’s victory in this and have that desire in my heart to have more children be fulfilled. But, in order to do so, I need to go back to step one – seeking God more fervently.
“God’s desire is that, with every new circumstance we face, we see not only the giant but also an opportunity to discover what he is capable of handling and just how big he really is.” ~Tracie Miles, “Stressed-Less Living” pg. 141
This is my desire as well, and I’m coming to realize that while I’ve been saying, “Not my Goliath. God won’t deliver me from this giant.” God has been telling me it’s not my Goliath to fight alone, and that I need to run to face my Goliath just as David did, with full faith and trust that I can depend on His strength to overcome and defeat the fear that’s been towering over my heart. I look forward to that day with hopeful expectation - the day in which I can declare with all honesty and confidence that:
*special note – while I was writing out my rough draft of this blog, I experienced a really cool thing I wanted to share with you quickly. When I came to the last paragraph, I found myself at the bottom of the paper, but rather than flipping the page over, I continued writing on that page by drawing an arrow to the right margin, turning my notebook, and then continued writing. Since I still wasn’t done at this point, I then proceeded to do this on the top margin and left margin as well, until the entire page was full. What I ended the rough draft with, so happened to be the stress busting scriptures at the end of chapter seven of “Stressed-Less Living,” and what I came to realize upon stopping and looking at what I had done, was that my rough draft was now completely surrounded by the Word of God! What an awesome feeling it was to experience Him wrapped metaphorically around the struggles I was sharing, as if He was already there providing me with His strength to face them – which of course He was J