Monthly Archives: June 2013

You are browsing the site archives by month.

How Sophia forever changed me

In the last year I’ve met up with my pastor on a weekly basis for work and personal check-ins. Although the thought of being accountable for how I’m doing personally and spiritually was a bit intimidating at first, these weekly check-ins have been a huge blessing as it gives me a rare moment to stop and reflect, and to receive wisdom from Pastor Larry.

Sophia just born!One of the things that Larry shared that has stuck with me is how children are not just gifts from God in the sense that we get them and that’s it and it’s great on its own (which is still true!), but that God gives them to us to change us for the better. Of course, I’ve heard how kids change your lifestyle and perspectives on life, but I had never considered how God might send this little person—who can’t even talk or take care of herself—to change the core of who I am, and in turn helping me get closer to the person that He created me to be and stepping closer into the life that He is offering me.

As Sophia turned one this past March, I wanted to take the time to document the ways, big and small, this precious little girl has changed the deepest (and most often stubbornly held onto) parts of me in just a year. I’m a couple months late, but here are some of the things that have stuck out in the last year:

Going on a walk with Sophia1. Babies force you to stop and smell the roses. I’ve always strived to be a person who notices people, nature, beautiful things in life, and there have been seasons of life when I did this fairly well. But in the season of having more work than I had time for (a story for later), sleep deprivation, and constantly battling the learning curve of being a new mom, this goal quickly got de-prioritized and sometimes forgotten all together. Sometimes I think new moms should be excused from being required to take a regular sabbath because it’s just too hard—there are too many things to do and not enough time!

But when you have a baby, you can’t just stay inside all day, lost in black hole of endless to do’s, chores, and entertaining but mindless time wasting on social media. You know you should get outside a couple of times a day to give your baby a change of scenery, some fresh air, and to expose their developing brains to the fascinating outside world filled with growing things, city noises, animals, architecture…No matter how easy and tempting it was to stay inside, having Sophia around meant that I would make myself leave the house regularly to go for a walk for the sake of walking alone,  and nothing else. No errands to run along the way, no ends other than to go outside and notice together what was happening in the world around us. It was always nice when the walk would help her fall asleep though!

2. Babies’ routines can help you build in good routines into your everyday life—ones that you’ve attempted to implement for years but never seemed to have the motivation or willpower to follow through on. For at least the first six months, all you do ALL DAY LONG with babies is feed them, change diapers, and put them down for naps. (I used to get really excited when I accomplished something in addition to these three things—“Dave, guess what, today I did ONE load of laundry!!!” True story.) One of the things I picked up on early on was that instead of immediately finding something random to do while feeding Sophia, I could take advantage of this very regulated time to do something else. Feeding Sophia every two hours was like a built-in reminder to rest and do nothing at all, or to pray. I’d always wanted to be better about praying and resting regularly throughout the day, and here God was giving me a very practical way of doing that!

3. Babies have an amazing ability to change who you areespecially the dysfunctional parts of you that you’ve given up on trying to fix/improve, or maybe would rather hold on to because it’s easier that way. There are many examples of how in just a matter of months, Sophia quickly turned around years and YEARS of doing things in unhealthy and unhelpful ways. I’ll give one silly and one serious example:

Silly example: I used to get very upset and literally feel physically anxious if paper that mattered to me got wrinkled, creased, and worse yet, WET! Well, babies love paper and doing all kinds of destructive things with it. After this was started happening all day long, everyday, I just gave up caring so much about keeping protecting my paper. It was surprisingly very easy, and I’m happy to report that a year later, seeing torn and wrinkled paper doesn’t phase me at all. The other morning Sophia ripped out a page from my newest Real Simple magazine (something I kind of treated as sacred paper in the past) and I just kept on sleeping. Victory!

Serious example: I’ve struggled with overcommitment issues my entire adult life. Being a people pleaser and thinking I can do it all (a pride issue) means I almost never say no to anything. Long before Sophia came along, doing more than I had capacity for wreaked constant havoc on my life and those around me. It costs me sleep and the ability to be fully present with people, and it means that I’m constantly giving the most important people in my life (mostly my husband Dave) leftovers of me. It means that in the four times I’ve moved in the last seven years, I’ve moved around the same unpacked boxes because I don’t have the emotional energy to deal with my stuff and organize my own life (which is especially stressful for Dave, who unlike me is an anti-hoarder). It means that I have several projects that I constantly feel guilty about for not finishing, including scrapbooks and birthday gifts that are several years late. It creates cyclical burn out and emotional rollercoasters that take time to recover from, and it means that I rarely take time to care for myself and pursue the things that give me the greatest joy.

I have a long way to go in learning to say no, realizing my limits, and creating more space to nurture things that are most important to me. I still have lots of clutter, unpacked boxes, and unfinished projects from years ago to deal with. But in the last year, I had no choice to accept that my past dysfunctional way of living, and the consequences it had on people I love, absolutely could not continue. Through several painful and difficult experiences, I was faced with my humanity and the stark reality that it’s not possible to take care of a 100% dependent human being, continue to invest in my marriage, and take care of myself while living the way I have in the past.

I know I’ll experience more wake up calls down the road, but there have been several hopeful signs that something very deep is changing in me. Our house is the cleanest and least cluttered than it’s ever been. Once Sophia started getting into EVERYTHING, she would go after everything in sight, and I eventually got sick of constantly putting away things that didn’t belong in a random pile or corner. So I just dealt with it. I also had an enlightening moment during yoga one day where I thought, I don’t know why I feel the need to keep stacks of “precious” magazines that I never revisit. That thought was all it took for me to give all my magazines away or recycle them. This may not seem like a big deal, but it is when you’re a hoarder and think that everything has future benefits. Dave can also attest to the tension my hoarding has created in our marriage, and what a turning point this last year has been.

For the first time in my life, I’ve found the space to successfully accomplish high-level happiness things that have remained untouched on my to do list for years. When we first moved into our condo in 2010, I had dreams of doing gardening projects. One of these things was taking on buying and planting flowers in front of our building every spring, which I’d always get excited about but would ultimately fall on Dave because I couldn’t get my act (or enough emotional energy) together. This year, I finally did it! I picked out (with help from the local flower shop and my sidekick Julie) flowers and plants, tapped into my inner graphic designer to come up with interesting and hopefully unique arrangements, and the proof of the results are in the picture below. Words simply cannot describe the deep joy I experienced that day.

The plants and flowers I picked out this summer!

So there you have it—this is my testimony of how God sent a little person into the world last year to do some major work on my heart, mind, and soul in a very small span of time. Without her, who knows how long I’d be shortchanging how my life could be, and ultimately, how much longer I’d be withholding from the life of freedom and abundance God has invited me into all along.