Andrea, 30, Mother
There is a vase of white tulips sitting on my dining room table. The petals, once folded in, are now open. But the flowers have started to droop, their green leaves curling and browning along the edges. I don’t think they’ll last much longer before I have to throw them away.
It’s a truth of all living things. When cut off from their source of life they cannot survive. But when the two remain connected, a baby to his mother’s breast, a tree to it’s roots, a seagull to the sea, it will grow and thrive.
It makes me wonder, what is my source of life? Am I connected or am I not?
Looking back at the past 31 years of my life there is one thing I know for sure, and that is what the unwell me looks like. I spent more time than I would’ve liked in this place, although on the outside I looked just fine. I was an avid runner. I ate plenty of couscous and chickpeas. I loved my job as an elementary teacher and married the cute drummer from the youth band. How could I not be thriving?
Yet I was not at peace. I was ruled by crippling perfectionism and unrealistic ideals. I had no self-compassion and very little joy. Something was missing, I just had no idea what it was.
A lot has changed since then. I became a mother to two beautiful boys, confronted my perfectionism in therapy, and left teaching to stay at home. I started writing more often and more seriously. As I began to slow down and listen to myself I realized there were parts of the younger me I wanted back — the bookworm, the writer, the nature lover. But mostly, I missed the seeker.
Being a pastor’s daughter I had grown up in the church yet my faith had become merely something I did on a Sunday morning, if the baby’s nap scheduled allowed. When marriage or motherhood felt especially tough, faith was a desperate plea for help I’d secretly whisper behind closed doors. Though I doubted anyone — let alone an intimate, loving Creator — was listening.
I was completely disconnected from God, yet I began to sense something pulling me back. Thankfully, I decided to listen.
I’ve come to learn that there is a part of me that longs to be in communion with God. Whether you call it your soul, spirit, or heart, I believe it’s there and I had ignored it for almost all of my 20’s. While I was busy nourishing my body and mind my soul was starving.
Like the wilting tulips on my table, I would not find life again until I was reconnected to God through my faith in Jesus. As St. Augustine has so beautifully written, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they find rest in you.”
I’m still figuring this whole faith thing out — how does one connect with the invisible? For me it has been meaningful to open my Bible again, to journal my questions, my fears, my prayers. To spend time in nature, in quiet.
Many times along this journey I’ve come back to the words that Jesus spoke to his disciples, they’re now planted in my heart:
“Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can’t bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can’t bear fruit unless you are joined with me.” (John 15:4).
I don’t think wellness is something I will completely arrive at one day, at least not in this world, but as long as I stay connected to Jesus I know I am on the right path, carrying my doubt right along with me.
Actively pursuing God makes me feel alive. I trust that this is the way to wholeness for me because this is who I was created to be.