God's Brave Women - Jenni's Story
I began pacing and could hardly catch my breath. The walls in my living room seemed to be slowly caving in on me. My heart was racing, and I felt like I had no control over my body. Impending doom surrounded me. I had never felt this way before. I didn’t realize until later that this feeling had a name. Panic attack.
The events leading up to this point seemed trivial. In all honesty, my response was disproportionate to the actual situation. I had received an email from school that lice was found on one of my daughter’s classmates. A right of passage for any parent. Therefore, I diligently searched my daughter’s hair. Repeatedly, searches returned empty. One day, I saw three little white round objects glistening in the sunlight streaming through the window. Dread came over my body. I assumed the worst. Lice eggs. Therefore, I began the regime of tearing apart the house. Overturning every clothed object, vacuuming, laundry. Repeat. Combing through my daughter's hair diligently every evening. Daily head checks for the whole family. I had begun a crusade against these little intruders. I tried suffocating the lice with olive oil and a shower cap. Then I tried the lotion and blow dryer method. How did my daughter have any hair left after this regime?!?! After my husband had searched my hair, he declared that there was a white nit residing on my own head. Emotions of my own juvenile battle against these buggers flooded into my memory. I could smell the permethrin with the mere mention of it. Are you itching yet? The intensity of disgust of my own body flooded over me. I couldn’t sleep. I could only battle around the clock. I was going to defeat every last critter that was invading our family!
While this was all happening, I had a darling three-month old baby boy to care for. He was a sweet bystander in the midst of my frenzied activity. He nursed and sat by patiently as nit combs, daily head checks and a variety of hair treatments cycled through our family. After almost a two-week battle, I began searching the internet. I felt like I was losing. I was losing sleep for sure, but also losing the battle against these intruders. I needed something more. I found a lice clinic an hour and a half away. I told my husband that I was going. He could tell that I was about to break. I needed something or someone to end this battle. Professionals. I packed up the car and drove to the clinic. The patient gentleman thoroughly combed my hair. My skin was crawling the entire time. He paused for a moment, he had found something. I was delighted and terrified. He had the evidence in his comb. He put the little white “nit” under the light. “Is this what you have been removing from your hair?” he asked kindly. “Yes” I exclaimed!” excited to get the treatment underway. “These are not nits. These are what we call hair casts. They are a part of the hair growth process. You just have a lot of them.” “Hair casts?” I questioned. I had upturned my life to rid myself of something that my body naturally produced. I was relieved. And a bit embarrassed. I had expended a tremendous amount of energy over something I thought was lice. I thanked him for his time and purchased a few “lice prevention” sprays to ease my mind. We packed up and returned home.
That night is when it hit. I woke up in a flurry of physical activity. How had I upturned my life for nothing? I felt so foolish. I began to question my instincts. I felt stupid. If I missed the mark on having lice, causing worry and unrest to consume my household, how would I handle more serious matters to face our family? Could I be trusted? Could I handle it? I had faced much more serious battles without this kind of response. What was wrong with me? I was overwhelmed.
"If I missed the mark on having lice, causing worry and unrest to consume my household, how would I handle more serious matters to face our family? Could I be trusted? Could I handle it?"
What I realize now is that my anxiety and actions that accompanied this scenario were an example of postpartum anxiety. I would pour over any potential problem and scenario my kids could fall into. These cycles would overtake me. Lice. My son being hit by the train tracks across the street. Ticks. Poison ivy. One of them drowning in our hot tub. I would wake up in the middle of the night, my heart racing as I poured over these scenarios and how I could prevent them.
At my core, I was struggling with control. On a much deeper level, I was struggling with whether I was a child of God. I questioned if I was ever really His. If I felt this way, I surely wasn’t living out the reality of what I had proclaimed in the past. During this time, I began reading John 15. I have often struggled with the parable of the “Vine and the Branches.” I read the verses from this passage: “Abide in my love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” (John 15: 9, 11) I have often asked myself the questions: Am I abiding? Am I fulfilling what is commanded in this passage? How can I abide when I must go about the business of my life?
"At my core, I was struggling with control. On a much deeper level, I was struggling with whether I was a child of God. I questioned if I was ever really His. If I felt this way, I surely wasn’t living out the reality of what I had proclaimed in the past."
As a stay-at-home-mom, I’m often lost in the activities of daily child-rearing. Most of my thoughts are far from actively seeking God’s kingdom. Now, my thoughts and actions were far from being consumed by daily happenings. They seemed directly opposed to abiding and trusting. I was trusting in myself. And I was failing myself. Was I really a part of this vine? After spending some time in this section, God gently reminded me that being grafted into His Vine was much like being a parent. As a loving mother, I never lose my sense of relationship to my children. They are always tucked in my heart, whether I’m conscious of my love for them. My love for them is deeper than any I’ve experienced. It overflows from me. This is how God views us. Even though I’m not consciously aware of His workings, His presence was shaping me, even in the midst of my panic attack.
I can look back upon that dark time now with much joy. He was with me. He was holding me. He was reminding me of His presence and that I cannot care for my children on my own. I must choose to be brave. I must relinquish control of my parenting. I’m sure there will be reminders of this in my future. It’s a choice I make each day, especially as my children grow. As mothers, we all must be brave enough to let go. As I practice this daily habit, I pray that God shields me from more panic attacks. However, if they return, I will look upon this passage and once again be reminded that I am grafted into His Vine. He is my sustainer. He is my Life. He is worthy to be trusted!
Jenni is a mother to two adorable children, Emery (5) and Graham (2). She is also a devoted and loving wife to her husband Josh of almost seven years. She is a stay-at-home mom with a side gig teaching English to beautiful children from across the globe. She enjoys hiking in God’s creation, biking, volunteering with her favorite local charities and dusting off her cowgirl boots for a line-dance with her girlfriends! She finds her passion in contributing to expanding God’s kingdom around the globe. Feel free to contact her via FB messenger if you need a listening ear.
Make sure to check back next week as another courageous Sister shares her story!
And by the way...
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