As a healthcare professional, I am passionate about helping others seek health and wellness every day. I have adopted the World Health Organization’s definition of health as a “state of complete physical, mental, and social well being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. I make my best effort to provide this holistic approach in caring for patients. When it comes to my own health and wellness, however, it has taken me many years to get to a place where I was able to give myself the same care and consideration.
I came to believe Jesus to be Truth in my late twenties after many years of struggling with perfectionism, depression, suppressed anger, and codependent relationships. At first, in my new found walk with God, I felt a greater sense of security and acceptance than I had ever known. I formed new relationships with other individuals who encouraged me and supported me, not because of anything that I did for them, but simply because of who I was in Christ! This was a foreign experience for me. I had a hard time understanding at a heart level that I could be loved for simply being. Wholly and unconditionally loved.
Not long after this life change, I married a wonderful, Godly man and we started a life together. When I became pregnant with our first child, I was determined that I would provide her with the best possible life. I wanted to surround her with feelings of unconditional love and the absolute best of the best. I read every parenting and baby care book I could get my hands on and researched every possible approach to childbirth, breastfeeding, sleep training, diapering, etc. I was determined to be the “perfect” mom.
My daughter’s birth was not easy. I laboured unmedicated (my choice!) for 24 hours, vomiting continually, and was left with significant blood loss and physical trauma. When I held her for the first time, seconds after her delivery, I became totally disconnected from the moment and remember thinking: “What is this blood covered, screaming thing?”. Despite all of the research and preparation I had done, I felt completely out of control, terrified and, first and foremost, so very guilty for not having that “love at first sight” moment with my child.
Over the next year, I struggled with significant physical pain as a result of my difficult labour. I got up every day (and several times each night) and did all the things I was supposed to do – housework, meals, feeding baby, changing baby, reading to baby, playing with baby, napping baby on schedule, the list goes on and on…. but I was a complete robot, doing everything out of a sense of duty rather than joy.
I often found myself wishing the time away until baby would be more independent and I would be able to have my life back. I occasionally felt resentful of this tiny human in my care… and anger toward my incredibly patient and loving husband for not being able to fix things, including me. I felt major guilt, and like I was a complete failure as a mother. In retrospect, I had all the classic signs of postpartum depression, but I – a trained health care professional – did not recognize it in myself.
The next several years were a blur of more babies, work, walking through cancer with my eldest child (a story for another post!), and countless loads of laundry. In the middle of this exhausting season, I had a rare moment of quiet reflection time with God. I was walking along one of the beautiful beaches of this province and I came across a set sun and surf bleached bones belonging to some long forgotten animal. I suddenly felt a deep sympathy for this creature and found myself fighting tears as God led me to a passage that I have carried in my heart ever since
“The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” I said, “Sovereign Lord, you alone know.” Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.” – Ezekiel 37:1-6 NIV
The past two years has been the fulfillment of this promise from God over my life.
I have come from feeling like the dry bones in the valley to a place of breath and life and joy. A huge part of that journey for me has been becoming part of a loving Christian community that has helped me understand on a deep heart level that I am loved and accepted by God. This has enabled me to take steps to establish regular exercise and admit to my doctor that I wasn’t OK… I thank God daily for the miracle of modern medication that can manage my frazzled neurotransmitters!
There is nothing that I can do to earn His love. It was very difficult for me to admit that I needed help but I am so very thankful for those who were there to listen with encouragement and without judgement.
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” – Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV
I found myself in the valley of dry bones, on the verge of losing hope, when I found a loving and supportive community that pointed me to the never failing, unchanging love of Christ. He enabled me to admit that I needed help, and in His presence I could give myself permission to accept it from others.
He showed me that I have been created for a purpose and I am waiting with anticipation to see where He will lead me as I continue on my journey to true wellness.
Find more True Wellness stories HERE
Carolyn has been part of the Celebrate Recovery program at her home church. Celebrate recovery groups can be found all over the world for anyone with hurts, hang-ups and habits that are holding you back from living the life God created you to live.